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Sarah Katherine Nealson

June 15, 1925 — September 22, 2023

Sarah Katherine Short was born on 15 June 1925 in Bowling Green, Missouri.  She was the fourth of six children born to Claude and Carol Short.  Her father, Claude, worked for the Chicago and Alton (C&A) Railroad that was later acquired by the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad (GM&O).  He quickly achieved the rank of Engineer.  His position provided a financially secure home setting for the family during the depression.

Sarah’s mother, Carol Short, died when Sarah was nine years old, in 1934.  Her father soon after remarried.  Her stepmother, Minnie, was a severe disciplinarian.  It is widely agreed that Sarah was happy to leave home upon her graduation from high school in June 1943.

She lived, briefly, with her older sister Mary in North Kansas City.  During that short time, from June to December 1943, she worked at the North American Aircraft Factory in North Kansas City.  When learning of that fact in 2008, her son declared that she was “Rosie the Riveter”.  She quickly corrected him.  “I was not a riveter.  I was a rivet inspector.  She explained that she was a quality-control specialist for the B-25s that were produced in that plant.

In December 1943, Sarah moved to San Francisco where her brother Bill and his family lived.  She soon found work with the U.S. Navy as a procurement specialist.  When warships returned from the Pacific to San Francisco for refit and repair, she would arrange for the purchase and delivery of items that the ships needed but were not in the Navy’s standard inventory.

In October 1945, Sarah was in San Francisco when her oldest brother Earl returned from Japan, where he had been a POW.  Earl spent over a month in San Fransico for medical attention and recuperation from his ordeal.  During this time, Sarah provided some of the things that Earl and his friends craved, most importantly good food and drink.  Sarah was forever grateful for the support and generosity of her coworkers and neighbors who donated their meat and liquor rations for the returning heroes.  Among Earl’s friends from the prison camps in the Philippines and Japan was Bill Nealson.  Sarah married Bill in April 1946.

Bill remained in the Army.  In September 1947 Karol Anne joined the family in Fort Benning, Georgia.  Karol was followed in 1952 by William Robert, in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  Together the family accompanied Bill in his military career to Alaska; Florida; Kansas; North Carolina; and Peru, South America.  In 1966, Karol left for college.  Sarah, Bill, and Bob then moved to Arizona in 1967.  Karol Anne married Ben Barton in 1968 although Sarah, Bill, and Bob could not attend the ceremony due to a severe heart attack suffered by Bill just before the wedding.

In 1968 Sarah, Bill, and Bob moved back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  Bill retired in June 1970 and Sarah and Bill moved to their retirement home in Winter Park, Florida.  They enjoyed their house with a pool until Bill died of a sudden heart in February 1972.

After Bill died, Sarah soon sold their house in Florida and moved back to Kansas to be close to her younger sister, Anne.  At that time, Sarah had not worked for 27 years.  She started as a receptionist at a Rodeway Inn on I-435 in Overland Park making $9 per hour.  In January 1973, she began to work as a clerk at Beta Sigma Phi.  Beta Sigma Phi offered a college sorority experience to millions of American women who were unable to attend college due to the depression and then World War II.  Sarah fit right in.  She soon became the Gift Office representative and remained a valued member of Beta Sigma Phi until she retired in 1989.

In 1988, Sarah moved to Lakeview Village in anticipation of her retirement.  Her sister Anne and husband, Jack, had already decided to retire to Lakeview Village and Sarah, taking their advice, was able to move there first.  While living within blocks of each other at Lakeview Village, Anne and Sarah attended or hosted family reunions and went on several travel adventures.  In 1988, they traveled to Red China to be some of the first Western tourist allowed into China since World War II.  That experience colored their fashion and culinary tastes from then on.  Sarah benefited from her sister’s energy and social fluency.  They did a lot together.

In 2014, Sarah’s sister Anne passed away.  Anne’s loss had a tremendous impact on Sarah.  Anne had initiated most of the social contact that Sarah enjoyed after she moved to Kansas.  Without Anne, Sarah tended to stay to herself except when relatives, most notably her niece, Elizabeth Dunsing, urged her out.  Elizabeth did many other things to morally support Sarah during this time and Sarah enjoyed a special relationship with her and her family.

In 2017, Sarah began to experience a series of health issues.  In January 2018, Sarah entered the Lakeview Village Care Center where she could get the care and support that she needed.  The Care Center was able to resolve Sarah’s issues and in November 2018 she was strong enough to undergo back surgery.  This surgery was very successful and in April 2019 Sarah moved from the Care Center back into Independent Living at Lakeview Village which is almost unheard of.  She enjoyed her independence and privacy in her apartment for three more years.

In April 2022, Sarah moved back to the Care Center when she could no longer care for herself safely.  Again, her niece, Elizabeth, provided incredible logistical and emotional support until Sarah passed away on 22 September, 2023.

Sarah was predeceased by all of her five siblings and all of their spouses.  She is survived by her daughter and her husband, Karol Anne and Ben Barton, her son and his wife, Bob and Mary Anne Nealson; grandchildren, Ryan Barton, Sarah Strait, Charles and Christian Nealson; great-grandchildren Isla and Oliver Strait; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Donations:

Lakeview Village Foundation
9100 Park Street, Lenexa KS 66215
Tel: 1-913-888-1900
Web: https://www.lakeviewvillage.org/foundation/

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Thursday, September 28, 2023

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