More than 200 people gathered at Dean Osmar's place in Cohoe on Dec. 31 to honor his wife, Sarah Armstrong, who died in a car crash.
The path to the bluff-top gravesite was lined with candles in ice globes. The weather pulled up at 20 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind waited while a gentle surf tumbled ashore. The crowd filed by Sarah's open casket. Nearby, two chest-high fires percolated away.
Sarah's stepfather, Don Moon, a retired Episcopal minister from Illinois, led the service. Standing next to him was Sarah's twin sister, Meg, her mother, Joanne, and other family members. Don led everyone in reciting Psalm 23.
Meg read "So we'll go no more a-roving," an 1817 poem by Lord Byron and was followed by Sarah's neighbor, Colleen Robertia, who sang "The Rose." Her words floated like snowflakes, crisp and clear as the heavens on a splendid night.
Colleen's husband, Joseph, talked about Sarah and Kasilof musher Jon Little also spoke warmly of her. During the entire service Dean stood stoically with his arm around Joanne, Meg was transparent with pain, and the surf never failed to fall.
Karl Kircher told how setnetters along the coast call Dean to get information pertinent to positioning their nets. Karl said that after Sarah came, callers realized they could get good information from her.
He went on, "Sarah gave people the impression that they were important to her. She used every meeting as an opportunity to brighten your day."
Brian O'Neil of Minnesota spoke. He is the lead attorney on behalf of fishermen in the Exxon oil spill litigation. He hired Sarah in the mid '80s and remarked at her talent. He mentioned how she was incredibly well read in "the classics." He believed her relationship with Dean had solved a persistent restlessness in her spirit. Brian said her favorite poem was Milton's "Paradise Lost."
Recently, however, she has grown to prefer and he recited, "I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o'er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils," from "Daffodils," by William Wordsworth.
Jocelyn, Dean and Neva's daughter, told how her siblings grew to love Sarah after she joined them. "She loved children and animals," Jocelyn said. Meg led a group singing of "Try to Remember."
Evy Gebhardt, another neighbor, explained that some friends couldn't be there. She said Jerry Wills was one of these and read a letter from him. Don prayed, "Make us, like her, an instrument of peace. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
A family member led in singing "I'll be Seeing You." Then Colleen sang "You Are My Sunshine."
A reception followed at Dean's house.
Katja Wolfe is the new Kasilof Public librarian. She moved here from the Chicago area about a year ago. The library is in Tustumena Elementary School, hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 to 6 p.m. The library board thanks Teri Josephson, the previous librarian, for all her work.
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