She graduated from Kansas State University in Pittsburg, Kan., with a Bachelor of Arts degree in vocal music. She also received an Early Childhood Specialist degree from Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Mo., where she also held a faculty position in Music and Voice. In addition, she was a voice instructor at Kansas State University, Emory University, Pittsburg State University, and Crowder College.
Ms. Lawhorne was a talented musician and after college she performed lead roles in numerous concerts, operas, and musicals. Her performances included roles with the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansas City Lyric Opera, Kansas State University Choir, Emory University Choir, the Joplin Little Theater, the St. Joseph Community Performing Arts Council and several touring music groups.
In 1977, she moved with her family to St. Joseph, Mo., where she co-founded Sugar Plum Preschool, taught voice and piano lessons and was the music director for the First Lutheran Church.
In 1982, Sara moved back to Nevada with her husband and children to own and operate Kapple's Plumbing and Heating, Inc. During this time, she became director of Sunny Days Preschool and later was employed by the Nevada City Hospital to develop the first Adult Day Care Center in the community where she served as administrator. Through a grant from the Finis Moss Trust, she facilitated the successful turnover of the Center to the Neighbors, a local respite organization.
In 1993, Sara accepted the position of Director of Community Relations with Nevada Regional Medical Center, responsible for internal and external public relations, community education, marketing, physician recruitment and fund raising efforts. She was instrumental in establishing the NRMC Foundation and served as the first director. She created and implemented the tree of life memorial wall, the PRIDE Plaza, the Annual Appeal and the Shining Tree of Memories. She organized and facilitated the first customer service program for the hospital, Moore-Few Nursing Home, and Barone Alzheimer's Care Center and won an industry award for her innovative approach. She created and served as editor of both the Internal Hospital Newsletter as well as the Community Health Publication. After writing and successfully obtaining a grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, she formed a consortium of local health care providers and started the Health Outreach Transportation Service Program to assist people in need of medical services in outlying areas of Vernon County and for others who could not easily afford access. It is the only federally funded grant given to a Missouri institution that has continued to this day.
Later she worked as the Guest Services Coordinator for NRMC and was responsible for staff education, patient surveys, and the PRIDE service recovery program and was liaison to the auxiliary. She implemented the Community Holiday Festival which was held in the hospital each year and was well known for her role as Ms. Claus.
During her life in Nevada, Lawhorne dedicated herself to community service and philanthropic endeavors. She served as a director on numerous boards and commissions including the Vernon County Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Missouri State Transportation Planning Commission, Missouri Hospital Association of Marketing and Public Relations, NRMC Foundation, City of Nevada Diversity Committee, B. R. Kapple, Inc., Nevada Country Club, Vernon County Cancer Association, Home Health & Hospice Advisory Board and the First Christian Church.
She was also an active contributing volunteer of the Salvation Army, the National Arbor Day Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Community Food Bank, St. Joseph Y.M.C.A., Albrect-Kemper Museum of Art, Meals on Wheels, Friends of the Library, Humane Society of St. Joseph, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Literacy Volunteers of Missouri, Women's Center Against Abuse, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Comen Foundation, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Relay for Life and the American Heart Association.
In addition, Ms. Lawhorne was a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Sorority, Soroptimist International, Stultz Hunting & Fishing Club, Thalias, the NRMC Auxiliary, Research Club, First Christian Church choir and hand bell choir and the Old Buzzard Society.
She was awarded the 1979 Missouri State Griffin Award for her contributions to the fine arts, the Soroptimist Women Helping Women Award in 1998, the Vernon County Chamber of Commerce Pacesetter Award in 2001 for creating the "Nevada Smiles Award" program, and received the inaugural NRMC Award of Excellence in 2007.
Sara is survived by her son, Marc Lawhorne and his fiancÚ, Josephine Glauert, and grandson-to-be Boone Glauert, of Columbia, Mo.; daughter Mary Katherine Wilson and husband, Mike Wilson, and granddaughter, MacKenzie Elizabeth Wilson, of Fayetteville, Ark.; sister, Christina Stiles and husband, Doug Stiles, of Nevada; niece Katie Grooms, of Lee's Summit, Mo.; and several cousins.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the First Christian Church in Nevada. Memorial gifts are suggested to the Vernon County Cancer Relief Society or the Nevada Regional Medical Center Foundation.
Friends may call now and until the hour of service at Ferry Funeral Home, 301 S. Washington, Nevada.
View obituary and send condolences on line at www.ferryfuneralhome.com