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Sarah Anitra Thompson

Aug 1, 2014

Sarah Anitra Thompson passed away on July 16, 2014, at West Virginia University Healthcare Berkeley Medical Center.

She was born Jan. 19, 1967, to Karen (daughter of famed child psychologist Manfred Sonstegard) and Jerry Thompson, in Harvey, Illinois. Three years later, following Karen’s death, Jerry moved the family to Shepherdstown (where Sarah spent her youth) and met and married Anne Person – Sarah’s new mother.

Although Sarah had a bachelor’s degree in English from Dickinson College, a Masters in Communications from American University and worked as a technical writer and legal secretary, her real passion was gardening, so Sarah became a certified West Virginia Master Gardener.

Following her divorce from Brock Vander Vliet, in Greenwich, Connecticut, Sarah moved to Martinsburg in 2002. Here, she bought a dilapidated house and barren garden on Burke Street and transformed it into a beautiful and eclectic paradise that was featured on the Berkeley County Historical Society Homes and Gardens Tour. Sarah’s artistic creations can be found gracing her home and garden today!

With Martinsburg as base, she established Your Perennial Gardener and oversaw the gardening for many area homes. Sarah also volunteered at the VA Hospital in Martinsburg, where she taught gardening to patients, at C-CAP, and at the Wildlife Rescue Mission in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Sarah loved cats and over the years many abandoned and homeless cats came to live with Sarah. Sarah also loved dressage and bought two beautiful horses, Jack and Daisy; who were cared for by Christi Geisbert at New Beginnings Farm.

Once settled in, Sarah decided she wanted a husband and so she approached a tall, dark, and handsome man, Roger Pickering, on the MARC Train. It was love at first sight and soon they were married at Avalon (near Paw Paw) in 2008. Over the years, Roger and Sarah had a wonderful and happy marriage despite Sarah’s depression. Their motto was, “Without us, where would we be?”

Sarah was the kind of person who would light up a room with her wit, colorful speech, laughter, and smile. She was kind and caring, with an amazing variety of friends. Sarah was such a gifted speaker she could transform the dullest topic (e.g. weeding) in such a way as to fully engage the audience and leave them laughing, clapping and begging for more. An avid reader Sarah would devour weighty tomes such as The Life and Philosophy of Karl Marx in under a week; smaller works were gone in a day! Sarah also liked to get inspired by a soon to be legal herb and bake the most delicious cookies sans recipes!

Sadly, Sarah passed away on July 16, 2014, as a victim of her mental illnesses. She left behind a loving, doting, and grieving husband, Roger Pickering; her devoted, bereaved stepmother, Anne McCabe and Anne’s husband and daughter, Tom and Erin; brother, Steve Thompson; father, Jerry Thompson; aunts and uncles, Kirsten Sonstegard, Valerie Sonstegard, Tamara McCollum, Mary Helen and Bob Harris, and Jim Person; and countless friends.

Sarah, you brightened the world with your beauty and creativity; you will always be loved and missed.

This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you!

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 9, 2014, at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church.

Contributions can be made to the National Alliance of Mental Illness at www.nami.org/MST emplate.cfm?Micrositel D=289.