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Sara Eloise Husband Younkin
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Obituary for Sara Eloise Husband Younkin

Sara Husband Younkin, C.A.G.O.

Sara Husband Younkin of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, passed away peacefully surrounded by her daughters on February 25, 2018, at Seasons Hospice in Cumming, Georgia. She was 99 years old.

Born on September 4, 1918, in the Fayette County town of Dawson in Southwestern Pennsylvania, on the Youghiogheny River, her parents were David P. and June (Miller) Husband. Brought up in the Methodist Church, her mother was the choir director, and her father the Sunday School Superintendent. Offered piano lessons, little Sara took the streetcar trolley to her teacher’s house, and gradually grew in her keyboard ability. At Connellsville High School, she was the accompanist for the orchestra and solo musicians, one of whom was Jack Younkin, a handsome trumpet player who later became her husband. For $1.50 a day, Sara played for dancing school on Saturdays.

Sara was offered a scholarship at Oberlin, Ohio, a college noted for music education. But this was the Depression, and times were tough, so she was unable to attend due to her family’s finances. Not to be defeated, Sara found education elsewhere, taking the train to Pittsburgh, where she took organ lessons and business school classes. Returning home, she became the organist at the Cochran Methodist church in Dawson, and enjoyed accompanying her brother David, a vocalist, for services and weddings.

For her day job, she worked in the local bank after high school, where Sara was warned that once a girl married, she could no longer be employed. Nevertheless, Sara and her beau Jack Younkin eloped on February 18, 1942, to Oakland, Maryland, where they were married in a Methodist Church, and drove back home in a blinding snowstorm. When Sara revealed to the bank manager that she was married, he so valued her work that he changed the rules so that she could keep her job.

Jack went off to the Great War in Italy and North Africa, and in August, 1944, their first daughter, Barbara was born. When Jack came home after the war, he got a job locally, and in 1946, their second daughter Elaine, was born. Wanting to make their way in the world, Sara and Jack moved the family to Clarksburg, West Virginia, to start a new life.

In Clarksburg, Sara took a job as organist at First Methodist Church, played for funerals at Davis Weaver Funeral Home, and additionally became the organist playing Hammond Organ for popular music at lunch and dinner at the famed Stonewall Jackson Hotel. This was 1949, when wartime Swing gave way to solo singers like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Nat King Cole, and dinner patrons’ requests kept Sara on her toes learning the newest pop tunes. With lots of important travelers passing through, it was only a matter of time that Sara would be discovered by a talent agent. Indeed, she had an offer to travel with a big band (we were told it was Guy Lombardo) which she considered, but ultimately turned it down in order to stay in Clarksburg and be a wife and mother. Change came again, when Jack’s job uprooted the family from the hills of West Virginia to the flat tidewater of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Settling in the town of Easton, Sara again found a job as organist at the one of the three Methodist Churches, which was timely, for those churches soon merged congregations and built a common hall and Sunday School building. There Sara played the Hammond for the combined church, named St. Mark’s Methodist, for services in the fellowship hall, the interim sanctuary. The new sanctuary being built needed a pipe organ, and husband Jack became head of the organ committee. Tasked to put out bids for a magnificent pipe organ to fit the magnificent new sanctuary, the contract went to the Teller Organ Company in Erie, Pennsylvania, and soon, an organ that housed 2400 pipes was installed. St. Mark’s music program was graced by Sara’s ability to master the three-manual pipe organ.

Still juggling roles, Sara participated in music programs at Easton’s Academy of the Arts, as well as informal music groups. She played for funerals at the Newnam Funeral Home. And, if that was not enough, Sara taught organ lessons to several diligent students. Always desiring to have an organ in their home, Jack came upon an electronic organ, an “Aeolian” Hammond. This was a rare player organ and a hybrid of electronic and pneumatic components. The manual part of the organ was a Hammond BA and lent itself for use for Sara’s organ students as well as for her individual enjoyment. Praise and recognition for her talents was heaped upon her by many friends and musical colleagues. Meanwhile, the Younkins were blessed with the birth of their third daughter, Jeanette. Even more change, however, was in the future.

With a promotion for Jack, the family was on the move to Charleston, South Carolina. Settling in, Sara found a church needing an organist at Northbridge Baptist Church and then the Naval Base Chapel. Desiring a job closer to their West Ashley home, it was fortuitous that Old St. Andrews Episcopal Church was searching. Sara was hired and became organist, choir director, and director of music in 1967. With their vast knowledge of pipe organs, the couple found that although the historic sanctuary was small, the existing organ was in bad repair and inadequate. A plan for a new pipe organ, was approved, and two years later, in 1969, the fine Zimmer 2- manual pipe organ was dedicated. With Charleston being a city with a wealth of culture, Sara soon became well- known and respected in the musical community. As member of the Charleston chapter of the American Guild of Organists, she was elected Dean, and her crowning achievement was obtaining two celebrated organists and composers, Belgian Flor Peeters, and the French Jean Langlais to play recitals at Charleston’s landmark French Huguenot Church.

Since Sara’s scope of musical knowledge was wide, encompassing many decades and genres, she was also able to entertain for dinner and dancing at the famed Cavallaro Restaurant in Charleston, where she also took requests, and since this was the 60’s she was accompanied by a drummer. With expertise in pop music ranging from the 40’s to the 90’s, prospective brides knew that she could play for their wedding and then play for their reception! Kiawah Island Inn, Mills Hyatt House Hotel, Wickliffe House at Medical University of South Carolina – these venues also were entertained by her keyboard skills for parties. McAlister Funeral Home also hired her to play for funerals.

Besides teaching 30 piano students a week in her home, at Old St. Andrews, she established a bell choir, guided children in presenting Christian musicals, and gathered instrumentalists to augment the choir at Festival times. Loyal and dedicated as well as talented, competent, and valued, Sara did not retire until she was 85, having served Old Saint Andrews for 35 years. Honored with the title of “Organist Emeritus,” a bronze plaque designating this was placed in the sanctuary.

Since her husband Jack had passed away 10 years earlier, Sara moved to Atlanta to live with daughter Jeanette and her husband Mark. There, the “Happy Hearts” senior group at a local church enjoyed Sara’s company, where she entertained them by playing piano. She also enjoyed practicing privileges on a pipe organ at a Lutheran church.

Finally confined to home, she suffered chronic lung disease prior to her death. Sara was beloved by her family, extended family and many, many people whom she taught over her 84-year music career.

Sara had “Colleague” certification as a member of the American Guild of Organists, and was a member of the Atlanta Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, a life member of the American Federation of Musicians, and an Honorary Fellow of Wessex Theological College, Dorset, England. She was most proud of being a member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, having several revolutionary war patriots in her lineage, one being the noted Herman Husband.

Sara’s husband of 52 years, John E. Younkin, passed away in 1994. She was also predeceased by her brother, David M. Husband, grandson Clayton Christopher Clark, step-great grandsons, Robert William Stevenson, and Logan Kleier.

Sara is survived by daughter Barbara Park and her partner, Frank Blake, of Joppa, Maryland, daughter Elaine Bloomer and husband Gregory of Pahrump, Nevada, and daughter Jeanette Kleier and husband Mark of Peachtree Corners, Georgia. She is also survived by: granddaughters Elizabeth Anderson (Guy) of Baltimore, Maryland, and Sara Shope (John) of Phoenix, Arizona. Step-granddaughters: Maranda Ficarrotta (Joe) of Newnan, GA, Jennifer Duffy (Joe) of Glen Rock, PA, Heather Hendricksen of Owings Mills, MD, Wendy Smith of Catonsville, MD, Rebecca Stevenson (Dan) of New Freedom, PA, and Jessica Park (Frank Green) of Perryville, MD. Also step-grandsons Matt (Sarah) and Michael (Amber) Kleier of Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

Great Grandchildren: Natalie and Juliana Anderson, and Colton, Cash, and Cooper Shope. Step-great grandchildren: Colman, Brigit, and Moira Duffy, Morgan and Grant Hendricksen (Megan), Adele Smith, Eric, Ellie and Matthew Stevenson, Jeremy Park, and Gage Green, Meredith Kleier, Landon and Eli Kleier, and also step- great -great grandson Miles Hendricksen. Also surviving are beloved nephews Dr. Steve Husband and Jonathan Husband and niece, the Reverend Rebecca Husband Maynard.

Services for Mrs. Younkin are being handled by McAlister Funeral Home, 2501 Bees Ferry Road, Charleston, SC 29414. Service and burial will be at Old Saint Andrews Parish Church, 2604 Ashley River River Road, Charleston, South Carolina, 29414. The service will take place on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 3 pm, with visitation with the family in the church beginning at 1 pm. https://www.oldstandrews.org


Previous Events

Visitation

Sunday

4

Mar

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Old St. Andrews Episcopal Church

2604 Ashley River Road
Charleston, SC 29414

Funeral Service

Sunday

4

Mar

3:00 PM
Old St. Andrews Episcopal Church

2604 Ashley River Road
Charleston, SC 29414

Cemetery Details

Location

Old St. Andrew's Parish Church Cemetery

2604 Ashley River Rd
Charleston, SC 29414

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