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Sarah M. LeDane

September 05, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Sarah M. LeDane, who died Aug. 23 at the age of 80. Her obituary was published in the Aug. 25 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Growing up as one of 14 children gave Sarah LeDane a lot of practice handling a large family.

Sarah and the five children from her first marriage blended with William LeDane's four children when they got married in the late 1960s.

"It was kind of like 'Yours, Mine and Ours,' which was a movie with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball," said Robert Noland, who was one of the "mine" children from Sarah's first marriage.

Then, Bill Jr. was born, representing the "ours" part of the equation.

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Sarah knew William LeDane in high school before she met and married Robert's father.

"My dad used to say he stole her from Bill," Robert said. "They all knew each other."

When she was raising her five children, Sarah was a homemaker who was able to devote her energies to home and family. That continued after the first marriage ended and she was alone for a number of years with her five children.

Robert said the family was living in Frederick Manor when William began coming around.

"He had a grocery store in Front Royal, Va., and when he came calling, he always brought cake and candies," Robert said.

William's own children were about the same ages as Sarah's, and as Robert recalled, he had full custody of them -- they came as a package when he and Robert's mother got married.

As for his parenting style, Robert described William as stern, but nice.

After Sarah and William were married, they had Bill Jr. -- their only child together as a couple. That brought the grand total of children to 10.

"My dad died in 1980 when I was 8," Bill Jr. said by telephone. "She became both parents and the breadwinner after that."

During all of those years as a stay-at-home mother, Sarah had allowed her driver's license to expire, Bill Jr. said. But she valiantly trooped down and got another one because her life had drastically changed and she knew she would need it.

Sarah soon found a job in the cafeteria at Smithsburg High School and stayed there for 18 years. Her children said the job allowed her to extend her maternal arms around the young people who came through her serving line each day.

Robert and many of the older children were out of the house when his mother started working.

As the youngest, Bill Jr. still was at home and remembers his mother's devotion to his upbringing. She attended every sporting event and got to know all of his teammates as well.

Robert also has fond memories of playing ball in the yard and having his friends over to hang out at his house when he was a child.

"Mom would always throw a little extra food on the ballplayers' trays," Robert said. "And if someone looked a little skinny, there was extra food for them, too."

When she wasn't cooking at home or at school, Sarah was lending her skills to the concession stands at her children's games.

Every Friday night, Bill Jr. and his friends could count on Sarah to drive them to the Starland Roller Rink so they could skate and hang out with friends.

At the viewing for his mother, Bill Jr. said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for him and his family from those same childhood friends.

"It was unlike anything I'd ever seen," Bill Jr. said. "A very special moment."

Former neighbors came to pay their respects, as well as Smithsburg High School students from years past. Many of the conversations centered around her kind nature and her good cooking.

"Billy's friends called her 'mom' and a lot of them were at the viewing," Robert said.

Daughters Rebecca Shives and Teresa Myers have followed in their mother's footsteps. This school year, both are working in the cafeteria at Old Forge Elementary School.

"Everybody loved mom ... faculty, staff and the kids, too," Rebecca said. "They felt comfortable with her."

Many of those former colleagues also came to the viewing, Rebecca said.

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