Sarah Dennis Gossard died peacefully Saturday Feb. 11, 2017, surrounded by her three children, Glenn, Leigh and David and her husband Eddie. She had five grandchildren and one great granddaughter. She was a medical technologist, working in the clinical laboratory at Baptist and St. Thomas Hospitals, until her retirement in 1995.
Services will be held at Belle Meade United Methodist Church, 121 Davidson Road, Nashville, TN 37205, on Thursday Feb. 23 at 2 pm, visitation from 12:30 – 2pm. In place of flowers, donations may be made to Belle Meade Church or to Community Care Fellowship, P. O. Box 60068, Nashville, TN 37206.
SARAH DENNIS GOSSARD
August 9, 1933 - January 11, 2017
Sarah was born in Selma, Alabama to William Elwyn Dennis and Sarah Boyd McKinnon Dennis, but grew up in Jackson, MS and Morton, MS. Her mother and father had both grown up in rural Alabama and Mississippi, and when Sarah was in the eighth grade they bought 10 acres in Clarksburg (between Morton and Pelahatchie and you won’t find it on a map) about 35 miles east of Jackson on US 80. She grew up with an assortment of cows, pigs, chickens, pheasants, guineas, ducks, geese, dogs and horses, not to mention gardening, harvesting, canning and preserving.
She attended Morton High School where she got an excellent grounding in science, especially biology. She earned a national Methodist scholarship for four years at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS where she majored in biology, served as a lab assistant in many courses and essentially completed a pre-med course in three years with straight A’s.
Besides that, she was active in the college-age Methodist Youth Fellowship at Capital Street Methodist Church where she met and fell in love with her future husband Eddie, an English major who was editor of the school newspaper, a member of the student council, the college literary society and the college leadership honorary society. He grew up 60 miles east on US 80 outside Meridian. They got engaged at graduation and then parted ways, she to Medical Technology School at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, and he to graduate school at Vanderbilt in Nashville.
They were married in July 1955, and moved to Nashville immediately, and she quickly found a job as a medical technologist at Baptist Hospital where she worked for 8 years before stopping to have children. In that time she helped start and taught the hospital’s first school of medical technology.
She spent the next eight years being super mom and homemaker to a husband and three children. Including regular trips to Opryland (with not only her three but with numbers of neighborhood children), joining the local garden club, learning to play bridge, taking sewing courses and of course, cooking three meals a day for a family of five.
When Tennessee instituted a license exam for med techs she decided to brush up by taking a weekend job at St. Thomas. After she passed both the technologist’s and the supervisor’s exam she began a long and distinguished career during which she served on the committee to select a lab computer and became the point person for the installation and supervisor of the computer (“I just went to a meeting and acted interested.”). She became the point person for any major moves or upgrades or expansion or construction projects including the move from midtown to the then new St. Thomas West. She became the blood bank director, the director of microbiology, the liaison between the lab and St. Thomas’ first heart transplant team, along the way earning the Daughters of Charity Award. When she retired in 1995, she was a member of the laboratory management team.
Retirement didn’t slow Sarah down. With her husband and other friends, she traveled: Paris, Interlaken, Lausanne, and London for starters. She loved Elder Hostel. A cruise to study the Impressionists, the great Australian train trek, two weeks at the Royal National Theater, a study of religious art in Rome with side trips to Florence and Venice. Other educational trips included the Holy Land, a tour of Paul’s third missionary journey in Asia Minor and cruise in China through the three gorges.
Travel didn’t deter her drive to serve others. She served on the work area on Missions, accepting a place on the board of Community Care Fellowship and volunteering at their homeless shelter. She became the face of CCF to Belle Meade and the face of Belle Meade to CCF, organizing the annual Christmas lunch as long as she was physically able to do it, all this while managing her Type 2 Diabetes with her usual grace and good humor. She also carved out plenty of time to share in the lives of her grandchildren, who she taught so much and dearly treasured.
The last few years of Sarah’s life were interrupted by dementia. It was the first time her whirlwind pace was stalled, but she lived each moment with loving gratitude for her family and her faith. She continued to inspire, asking “what can I do to help?” always at the ready to contribute and to be there for others. She leaves behind a husband and family who loved her deeply, admired her greatly and will forever carry her in their hearts. Hers was a life well lived.