Sarah  Little

Obituary of Sarah Goodpasture Little

“On a snowy day in Massachusetts March 12, 1919, I was born in Cambridge to Sarah Marsh Catlett Goodpasture and Dr. Ernest William Goodpasture. My father was a professor at Harvard Medical School. I was their first and only child….my mother avowed the snow that day came to the top of the picket fence.” These are the first lines of Sarah Goodpasture Little’s autobiography. She died on March 4th. Sarah was steeped in the traditions and manners of the South, having been brought up in Nashville after living in Massachusetts, the Philippines, Pittsburgh, and Vienna in the first 6 years of her life. In 1941 she married Joseph A Little II, whom she met on the first day of classes at Vanderbilt University in 1936. They were married for 68 years until his death in 2009. Despite her strong Southern heritage, Sarah grew into a life of advocacy for progressive ideas: civil rights, affordable housing, women’s rights, and environmental issues. Joe II, who grew up a steel worker’s son from Alabama, credited her for helping him embrace the social values that would lead him to advocate for inclusive policies throughout his life in academic medicine. Sarah always found ways to serve: President of the League of Women’s Voters, Shreveport Home Mortgage Association (affordable housing), the Cloud Forrest School in Ecuador, children’s health advocacy, Bread for the World, and through activities sponsored by her church, to name a few. She was a fierce advocate and supporter of public schools. Sarah trained in ballet and danced in Nashville during high school and college. The highlight was performing during the intermission of a Nashville performance of the Ted Shawn Dancers. This experience deepened her love of the arts and she found ways to attend ballet performances, plays, symphonies, and operas throughout the world. Sarah attended adult education classes at Vanderbilt into her nineties and was a voracious reader until her sight finally faded. She began playing tennis as a teenager and graced the court regularly until she turned 90. Sarah’s civility and care were always present - never missing a “thank you” note or a personal visit or providing meals for friends during their most trying times. Her life of work for others and devotion to our father demonstrated a strength that served as an example to all who knew her. What a life! She will be greatly missed by her 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren as well as other relatives and friends. The family will hold a graveside memorial service at a later date due to the pandemic. We extend a special thank you to her caretakers at Richland Place for their attentive care. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the non-profit of your choice.
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