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Sarah Ellen Swiger, of Winchester, Mass., age 66, passed away comfortably at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., on Nov. 22, 2014 from cancer.

Born in Newport News, raised in Mathews County, Va., Sarah graduated from Riverside Hospital School of Nursing as a Registered Nurse in 1969. She met William Swiger in 1967 while in school, and after graduation they were married in 1969. They then moved to Massachusetts where she worked at Worcester State Hospital.

Moving to Winchester in 1975, Sarah became involved with the Winchester public schools through the Ambrose Parents Association, the Community Schools Association, and served on the Winchester School Committee for 16 years, many as its chairman. Sarah also helped with the creation of the Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence which provides funding and support for educational programs here in Winchester.

In addition to her service with the schools, Sarah served as a Town Meeting member for over 20 years and was a member of the Capital Planning Committee for 17 years. Sarah was a key initiator of the development of the Winchester Coalition for Safer Communities (formerly Winchester Substance Abuse Coalition), an organization which takes a coordinated approach to dealing with community safety, combining public health, public safety, schools and other municipal and community resources. Sarah’s dedication to public service did not stop at the local level. She was a key figure in influencing the passage of Massachusetts’ first Education Reform Act and its subsequent amendments. She was involved with EDCO, the Education Collaborative of 23 communities that provides Special Education classes, teacher training courses, and a group buying program for the communities. EDCO advises on legislature focusing on school needs and priorities as well. She had also been an active and dedicated member of the League of Women Voters.

Sarah’s life has been characterized by her public service, dedicated first and foremost to the children of Winchester and the Commonwealth. In honor of her service, Sarah received the Unsung Heroine Award from the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women in 2007, the MASC Lifetime Achievement Award 2013, and the LWV Winchester Civic Leadership Award in 2014.

Sarah leaves behind her beloved husband of 45 years, William R. Swiger; her three children, Charles, Elizabeth and husband Tali Teichman, Callie and partner Diogo Hausen, as well as sister, Mary and husband Chris Manjourides and family; sister-in-law, Mary Ann and husband Francis Romano and family; and sister-in-law, Katherine and husband David Hanlon and family. 

Sarah was preceded by her parents, Marjorie Elizabeth and William Alvah Hutson and her sister, Gloria Waddell.

A wake was held on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, at the Winchester Town Hall, 71 Mt. Vernon Street, Winchester, Mass. 01890 from 1-5 p.m., organized by Lane Funeral Home. Funeral and interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers contributions in Sarah’s name can be made to The Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, The Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence, or The League of Women Voters. 

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