Gray Coughenour Sawyer, of Colchester and formerly of Winston-Salem NC, St. Louis MO, and Wakefield MA, passed away on May 2, 2023 at Backus Hospital in Norwich. She was 74 years old. Born to the late Richard and Mary (George) Coughenour on December 4, 1948, in Winston-Salem, NC, Gray was raised “in the shadow of tall bookshelves,” inheriting a lifelong love of literature from both parents. Gray described her perfect day as one that involved a visit from a friend, especially a visit from both her daughters together. She loved clean sheets, a gray sky (it's right there in the name), sushi, tomato tarts, and lemon sherbet. She loved music, especially “homemade” music: her husband playing the piano, or her daughters singing. She loved to read and helping others learn to love reading. With a keen eye for each individual’s particular talents, she mentored and encourage numerous girls and women while working for Girl Scouts of America’s Patriot’s Trail Council, generations of children and adults as a children’s librarian at Lucius Beebe Memorial Library in Wakefield, MA, and helped guide the spiritual journeys of children, laity, and candidates for priesthood through her work for the Episcopal church. She was a gifted storyteller, an insightful mentor, and a resourceful leader who brought people together to work toward common goals. She loved her husband of 52 years, Dana Sawyer, her two daughters, Mary and Nora, her many friends, and a lifetime’s worth of dogs, cats, and other rescues. She was joyful, gracious and kind, and equipped both of her children with the tools they will need to face the world without her. She spent her last days charming the staff at Backus Hospital in Norwich, CT, and was surrounded by friends who were as good as family and family members who were also friends. She passed away holding hands with both her daughters, listening to one of her favorite hymns: Hallelujah! We sing you praises and All our hearts are filled with gladness. Her loss will be mourned by all who knew her, especially her husband Dana, her daughters and their spouses: Mary Clark Sawyer, (Andrzej Lipski) of Portland, CT, Elinor Gray “Nora” Sawyer (Brian Andrews) of Sausalito, CA; three sisters, Carolyn (Bill) Taylor of Somerville, MA, Ann Coughenour and Ruby Coughenour, both of Winston-Salem, NC; and a host of beloved relatives, in-laws and friends. As befits someone who wore so many hats, Gray enjoyed wearing elegant fascinators at teas, costume parties, and other occasions. Mourners are encouraged to wear hats in her honor at a memorial service and celebration of Gray’s life that will be held on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at 1:00 PM am at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 31 Main St. E. Haddam. Burial will be in the adjoining memorial garden. Donations in her memory may be made to the Girl Scouts Council of Eastern Massachusetts, or St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in East Haddam. The Aurora-McCarthy Funeral Home of Colchester has been entrusted with care of arrangements. To sign the online guest book or share a memory of Gray, please visit www.auroramccarthyfuneralhome.com
To send flowers
to the family, please visit our floral store.