The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 29, 2003


Carlisle loses a special Town Clerk and Accountant - Sarah W. Andreassen

Sarah Andreassen, 63, of Cross Street, Carlisle's Town Clerk and Accountant, died on Friday, August 15 at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston after a two-and-a-half year struggle with cancer. Sarah, who came from a well-known Carlisle family, the Wilsons, whose members have served the community for generations, was buried in the family plot in Green Cemetery.

A funeral service was held on Tuesday, August 19, at the Wilson Memorial Chapel in Green Cemetery, exactly one year from the day her mother Esther Wilson, 92, the town's former dispatcher, died. The chapel was given to the town in 1907 by Sarah's great-grandfather Captain Horace Waldo Wilson. Sarah's father, Waldo Wilson, was a former fire chief and town accountant.

On a warm August morning, under an unusually clear sky, an overflow crowd of family and friends gathered in and around the memorial chapel to bid good-bye to Sarah. [I realize that in addressing the deceased one should use Mr., Mrs. or Ms. but in the case of Sarah Andreassen, here in Carlisle it was always "Sarah."] The service began shortly after 11 a.m. with the Reverend Janet R. McWalter, Director of Pastoral Care at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, officiating. Reverend McWalter was a friend of Sarah's sister Mary Gillespie from school days at Concord High School and had known both the Wilson girls.

Those who spoke at the service included Suzanne Marchand, finance director and treasurer for the town of Westford; Carlisle Selectman Doug Stevenson; William Watt, a friend of Sarah's daughter Alice; and Reverend McWalter.

Marchand, who had been a friend of Sarah's for 23 years, from 1980 when they first met at the Mass. Municipal Auditors and Accountants Association meeting, had spent Wednesday with Sarah, two days before her death. Sarah was determined to attend the annual Eastern Mass. Accountants picnic at Castle Hill in Ipswich and had told Marchand she could pick her up at the Carlisle Town Hall. As Marchand explained it, Sarah didn't feel well on the trip to Ipswich, but once there she met and enjoyed talking to old friends and associates. Making her way down to the beach, there were lots of others to see, besides an opportunity to sit on a chair in the cold ocean water that she loved so well. Later, feeling better, she was able to head back up the hill for a lobster roll before returning to Carlisle. Marchand dropped Sarah off at Town Hall where she got into her car and drove back to her home on Cross Street. "She was so dedicated to the town," observed Marchand.

Selectman Doug Stevenson, who was also a friend and neighbor of Sarah's, was the next to speak. "...there was no one, and may never be anyone, who cared as much about this town, the Town of Carlisle, as Sarah did....whether it was marriage licenses, fishing licenses, birth certificates, cemetery deeds, or balancing department accounts or lining up tellers for Town Meeting, or giving someone directions to the second floor, she loved her job. She did it with dedication, accuracy and passion beyond compare. Many of us, new to Town Hall life, often struggled with how she was such a stickler for so many things -· some detail, some set of minutes, some certification · to us sometimes it seemed like an obsession · to her it was a responsibility.

But at some point it became very clear. As we today pull out past public records so that our current decisions are based on historical fact, so too, tomorrow, others will refer to the public records and documents that we leave behind, on which to base their decisions. Sarah taught me this. .... She took this responsibility most seriously; she cared deeply about preserving the past and transmitting it to the future..."

The last to speak was William Watt, Alice's friend. He spoke emotionally of his relationship with Sarah, his calls to her on a weekly basis and more recently, every day. It was obvious he would miss her, as Alice's mother and as a good friend.

The service was concluded with words from Reverend McWalter and a prayer said for Sarah and Sarah's family. The casket was then taken from the chapel and placed in the family plot, directly across the way.

Family and friends were invited to a reception back at Town Hall following the service.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito