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  • "Sally was all that you wrote in your tribute and more. She..."
    - Betsey Davis
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SARA LEA (SALLY) POLANSKY MATTOON Sara passed away on June 24 in the early morning hours at Hospice at the Chaplaincy in the arms of her daughter, Jane, granddaughter, Lisa, and grandson, Todd. Her health rapidly declined in the last weeks and she passed peacefully at age 94. Sara was born in Albany, New York in December 19, 1921, the sixth of 8 talented and creative children; Isadore, Milton, Ethel, Arnold, David, Sara, Ruth, and Dorothy. Her mother Jennie was born in New Jersey, the only child of a silk glove manufacturer. She was was a pianist and that musical ability has been passed through the generations, especially prominent in niece Judy Polan who is a well-known cabaret singer and performer in Saratoga Springs, New York. Sara's father, Herman emigrated from Poland thru Ellis Island just prior to Hitler's invasion. He was the only survivor of his family and became a true American and successful man in business owning real estate and a machine shop. Herman was extreme in shedding his European identity, religion, and customs that proved to be so deadly to the whole of Europe. He just wanted to be an American, a "Yanqui." Jennie kept as many of the traditions of the home as possible with the pressures of the times, her growing family, and declining health. She died at 52 leaving Sara to raise Ruth and Dorothy in severe circumstances. Sara graduated with honors from Phillip Schuyler High School, winning both the Art and English medals. She was the organizer of the Class of 1940 50thReunion and was honored to write the class retrospective. She was a recognized fashion designer, seamstress, and artist. She met her future husband Ben in the Defense plant where he was a tall, handsome mounted policeman. She worked to sight the breech blocks on the big guns, barely tall enough to reach the top. At 4 feet 9 inches, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was truly one of the Finest Generation. Ben always called her Sally, and she loved that nickname. And it stuck from that time forward. Sally and Ben eventually married and left the east coast to begin their lifelong adventure. They were married for 47 years until Ben passed unexpectedly in Arizona. Mom and dad were the original "long, long trailer" except theirs was 27 feet long. The traveled across the United States following construction of refineries, dams, and The Manhattan Project. Dad became a journeyman pipe fitter and mom stayed home to raise two children. They were one of the first of 3,000 trailers in the camp at North Richland. They joined Christ the King Church when it was still a tent, dad was a charter member of the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus, mom sang soprano in the choir and was a popular member of the Altar Society. She also sang with the Sweet Adelines. After a few years, they moved out of the desert to Anacortes to work at the Standard Oil Refinery, bought a waterfront home, restored it and remained there until the early 1960s. Mom always said that Anacortes was a little slice of heaven. Daughter Jane left home for college and they decided to sell everything and head east on another adventure. Mom became ill along the way and they stopped in Richland to recuperate, eventually buying another home abandoning plans to move on. Mom recuperated, son David graduated from Richland high school and joined the military for Vietnam. It was time for Sally to learn to drive! Sally was strong, single minded, brilliant, funny, and talented. She had a mind for details and an unfailing memory. She could tell great stories and loved to share the eccentricities of her father and the wonderful times with her siblings. And there was the occasional drop-in uncle, or temporary housing of a goat in the hall closet. But that is another story. Sally played along with Jeopardy every night to the amazement of family and friends. She was quick and smart. She could tell you the names of every Actor, especially the familiar faces who were the "B" actors in the movies, the lyrics to every song. She created original art, oil paintings, porcelain dolls, sewed Barbie clothes for the granddaughter and her friends. She could design and sew any project on her little Singer sewing machine. She was a leader for son's Cub Scout troops, organized original and innovative activities and was a cook and baker par excellence. The family looked forward to the dozens of elaborate Christmas cookies and family dinners. She always did things the east coast way, using the finest China and silver to make mealtime not only elegant but special for the guests. Sally was fortunate to travel the all the states in the US with her husband and to see the world with friends and family over several years. She traveled to Alaska, Mexico, Canada, Europe, China, Turkey, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, England, Scotland, Wales, Greece, Eastern Europe, among others. Daughter Jane, and friend Joan Okrent had many memorable and hilarious adventures along the way. The journals of those travels would make quite a story. Sally was the oldest member of the Tri-City Tappers until well into her 70s,and loved being active and part of that group until a failed spinal surgery began the decline of her life. She was sharp right to the end, involved in current politics and financial news. She always voted and expressed her views. Like her father, she had a gift for money management. Sally Is survived by daughter Jane, son David (Leslie), granddaughter, Lisa, grandson Todd, great grandson Jared. She outlived all her siblings. A best friend, Leah Schenkel of Albany is the only remaining friend of the original 12 high school circle. She is also survived by niece Marilyn (Peter) Salomone, Florida, nephew Stephen (Elizabeth) Polan, New York, neice Judy (Michael), Massachusetts, neice Pam (Jay) Kaplan, South Carolina, nephew Cameron Michael, South Carolina, stepdaughters Helen Harling (New York), Jean Davis (Ohio), and numerous great nieces and nephews. Sally was never really a pet lover, except she said Charlie, Jane's little dog, was the only one she ever truly loved. he was a comfort to her in the last months. Great grandson Jared was the shining star in her eyes, and her fondest wish was to see him graduate. Grandchildren Lisa and Todd were her heart. She was always thinking of their futures and was there for them over a lifetime to give and help. Sally requested no services be held. Ben and Sally's ashes have been co-mingled and a family gathering and scattering will be held at a later time. The family sincerely thanks the medical and nursing staff at Kadlec Hospital and the Kadlec Senior Center, the staff of Right At Home in home care, to Pioneer Adult Family Home, and to Hospice House at the Chaplaincy for all the love and care to Sally and our family. The family invites you to sign their on-line guestbook and express your thoughts at
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Life Tributes Cremation Center
731 N. Columbia Center Blvd., Suite #126
Kennewick, WA 99336
(509) 736-3565
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Published in Tri-City Herald on July 13, 2016