ESCANABA - Sarah Jo Mayville, 31, of Escanaba, passed away unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm on Nov. 26, 2013, in San Diego, Calif. She is survived by her parents Don and Becky Mayville, sister Leanne, "brothers" Quincy and Coco, and her cat Pigra.
Other surviving family members include her grandmother Marie Mayville and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Sarah graduated in the top 10 of her class from Escanaba High School in 2001 and earned a bachelor of arts from Kalamazoo College in 2005. From there, she taught English to inner-city high school students in Philadelphia as a member of Teach for America. During her two years in Philadelphia, she earned her first master's degree in education while attending The University of Pennsylvania. Upon leaving Philadelphia, Sarah promised her students that she would return for their graduation: two years later, she came back to see them walk across the stage. In 2007, she took all of these experiences to Chicago and taught English at Noble Street Charter High School. After one year in Chicago, Sarah moved to Milwaukee in 2008 and earned her second masters degree in American and British literature at Marquette University. During her two years at Marquette, she was an instructor in the First Year English Program and was presented with the John D. McCabe Award for Excellence in Teaching. In the fall of 2010, her dad helped her move across the country to San Diego, where she began pursuing her PhD in American literature at the University of California San Diego. After Sarah completed her PhD qualifying exams in 2012, she earned her third master's degree in literature. At the time of her death, she was in the final stages of completing her dissertation focusing on Native American literature. Her dissertation committee will compile her completed work and award a posthumous doctorate upon review. Sarah was expected to complete her doctoral work in the summer of 2014.
Sarah Jo Mayville
Sarah's passion for knowledge was evident in her daily life. An avid reader since she was a young girl, Sarah was taken to the library by her parents multiple times a week throughout her childhood. She was also knowledgeable beyond her academic work. Sarah spent time experimenting and excelling in various forms of art including painting, knitting, cross-stitching, quilting, and jewelry making. Numerous friends and family received many gifts of her artwork. While in San Diego, she also began attending yoga classes and achieved Yogi certification. She was a published poet and expressed her thoughts beautifully on paper. Sarah was a diehard Green Bay Packers fan and attended games at Lambeau with her family. During her undergraduate work she studied abroad in Rome and would even seek out the games in local bars throughout the city. Her knowledge will live on in her jewelry, her published work, and the knowledge she bestowed on so many students, friends, and colleagues.
At the end of Sarah's e-mails, she would include one of her favorite quotes. The most recent quote was by Lebanese poet Kalhil Gibran. It read, "Work is love made visible." She believed this mantra and lived by it daily.
Sarah was a giving person throughout her lifetime. Even in death, she gave the gift of life to many through organ and tissue donation. Her family is proud of her selfless decision and has found peace knowing her spirit now lives on through others.
Private memorial services are being planned for immediate family members to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Sarah's family plans to use any monetary donations to establish a memorial in her name at the Escanaba Public Library.