Sara Ellen Faulkner moved on to “whatever is next” (her words) on October 18, 2022. There will be a Celebration of Life at Kiana Lodge In Suquamish, Washington on July 27, 2023 from 2-5 PM.
Sara was born at the Mayo Clinic in 1950, bringing with her a sparkling personality, red hair, and freckles. Sara contracted polio as a toddler and underwent prolonged hospital stays and operations. Sara was hospitalized for a full year when she was 18-20 months old, spending endless hours in a hospital crib, chewing on the (leaded) paint. She said “all the kids did that. They were bored and restless and it tasted good!”
After college (Hollins), medical school (Rush) and Residency (UC Davis), Sara joined Group Health and worked at several Medical Centers. Patients and colleagues loved Sara, and she truly embodied “care and caring”. Sara had a tremendous passion for travel to exotic places which she shared with Michael.
Michael and Sara met when he was a 3rd year medical student and she was a resident at UC Davis. They moved fast in their relationship, and Michael was in London for his last 2 rotations of 4th year while Sara had completed internship and was working as a jail doctor. They planned that Sara would fly to Heathrow airport on a particular day. Michael didn’t know what airline, flight number, or arrival time. He went to the airport, climbed up into the rafters, and found a vantage point where he could see every international passenger from each incoming flight. He waited 13 hours, when Sara finally walked in. Later during that same trip they were married in cut-offs and tennis shoes at a Justice of the Peace in Thailand.
When Sara’s first child Nick was born, she and Michael became the first people on the West Coast to share a residency. Whoever was not in residency at any time would take Nick to the clinic Sara had found 15 miles North of Sacramento. Nick would be hopping in a Johnny Jump Up greeting patients in the hallway.
When Nick was 4 and had his first bout of Guillain-Barre and needed to be intubated, Sara stepped up to 4 yo Nick (this was during the Star Wars era) and calmly told him that his body needed help breathing. Dr. Anne would put a straw into Nick’s mouth and the straw would connect to R2D2 (the robot from Star Wars) and R2D2 would help Nick breathe until his body could breathe on its own. Michael’s tears turned to feeling blessed that this strong and wise woman was the mother of their children.
Sara left practice early related to post-polio syndrome, and she worked in the Medical Director’s Office creating the Practice and Leadership Development department. Sara coached our clinicians, built curricula and taught about communication, burn-out, Leadership and many other topics. The department helped support our entire clinical and leadership staff.
Sara loved her patients and the staff she worked with, but her real passion was her children, Nick and Kris, and grandkids (Ben and Boone). The family went twice to practice medicine on the island of Barbuda, 30 miles north of Antigua in the Caribbean. The Brits had set up a medical clinic staffed by locals, except that the doc would be “imported”, and some of the time it was Group Health docs doing this work. Nick and Kris attended the all-Black school with one classroom for all ages, students in uniforms, and goats roaming the schoolyard.
Sara’s family would fly to Antigua and spend the night at the Lord Nelson Hotel before going to Barbuda. One night at the Lord Nelson, they heard loud, rhythmic Caribbean dance music from a mile or so down the beach. Sara started dancing toward the music and said “let’s take the kids and go find the music.” They all danced down the beach and after 20 minutes ended up in a small structure with a large outside area with 100 locals dancing. Half had “standard wedding attire” and the other half were seemingly Rasta men and women with festive clothing. Sara walked right in and the kids and Michael followed. The crowd funneled them to a dinner table where the bride and groom were having traditional wedding goat stew. They asked who their unexpected guests were and they thanked us for coming and asked us to stay. We danced the night away after having goat’s stew!!!
Sara has been referred to by some of her friends as “light and love” and when discussing her most prominent qualities, curiosity and compassion consistently come up. She was adventurous, bright, kind, full of life and love. Truly a gift for those who knew her. Sara is survived by husband Michael, son Nick, and daughter Kristina. We will miss her dearly.