GENEVA -- Sarah Jane Gilmour passed away peacefully on January 10, 2020, in her own home, with her animals by her side, fullling her dream of living independently until the end of her life.
She leaves behind many friends and family, some who called her Sarah and some who called her Sally, but all of whom had richer lives because they knew her. Sally was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her early 20’s. Despite the many obstacles this presented, Sarah responded with a tenacity for her work and an irrepressible sense of humor. It is often said of people with a disability that they are “not defined by their disability” but in a sense Sally WAS inspired by her disability—it drove her activism and her career working for disability rights.
Sarah was born in Mount Vernon, New York on January 29, 1948, but grew up in Geneva, New York. She graduated from Geneva High School and William Smith College. After working as a paralegal for the Legal Aid Project in Geneva, she went to law school in her 40’s because she knew she was as smart as the attorneys in her office. She graduated from Albany Law School in 1992. After law school , she went to work for the Empire Justice Center in Rochester, where she was a powerhouse, administering a Health Law Collaborative Project for people with HIV/AIDS, and providing legal services for those clients in housing, public benefits, employment discrimination and a variety of civil legal matters. She also worked on disability access and civil rights issues.
Sally received numerous awards during her career, including the Adele Friedman Women in Disability Award, for working in the field of disability, advocating for the equality of all persons.
Sally was predeceased by her parents Judd and Myra Gilmour, and her brother, John. She is survived by her brother Arnold, sister-in-law Rene, niece and nephew Lucas and Chrissy. She is also survived by many close and lifelong friends, whom she considered family. She was grateful for the team of aides who cared for her and allowed her to remain in her home. She also leaves her animal family, Dixie, Hunter, Fred and Ethel. All will miss her friendship, strength, humor and passion.
Sally will be remembered with love as an activist, knitter extraordinaire, crafter, animal lover, bird watcher, excellent baker, and voracious reader.
Donations may be made in Sally's name to Lollypop Farm, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or disability rights organizations. A celebration of Sally’s life is being planned for the spring. Burial will be in Glenwood Cemetery in Geneva, New York.