Sara Whelan Accordino died after a brief battle with cancer on May 31, 2019. She passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her two children Alice and Claire and Michael, her husband of 31 years.
Sara was born in Rockville Center, NY on Long Island on April 1, 1952 to Rodger and Beatrice Jean (nee MacGregor). She was the middle child of five siblings: Kathleen, Joan, Margo and Shawn who survive her.
After graduating Carle Place HS she attended NYU eventually transferring to CW Post where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English.
Sara eventually found a job in publishing working at Berkley Books, Jason Aronson and Penguin, USA. It was a perfect career for someone who was such a voracious reader. She worked in the industry until she and her husband adopted their first daughter Alice and then worked as a stay at home mom who became happily busier with the arrival of Claire three years later. During this time Sara became drawn to our church saying she found herself searching for God when she realized she “needed to thank someone” for the blessing of her children. She became head of children’s education at St. Mark’s during that time and later served as a greeter, lector and usher.
As the children grew up she decided to go back to school for her Master’s degree in Social Work. She graduated from Montclair State and quickly found work as a counselor for those struggling with drug and alcohol issues. Again this career was a good fit as Sara herself struggled with addiction as a young woman and often described said struggle as a blessing, as it gave her strength and wisdom and resources to help others battling alcoholism or drug abuse.
At the time of her death she was working for NCADD, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, a welfare-to-work program for the state of NJ where she had been promoted to Clinical Supervisor directing a team of counselors. In a volunteer capacity she also ran a group for adult survivors of childhood abuse.
In addition to her husband and children, Sara was a loving aunt to Matthew, Laura, Brian, Katherine, Mary, Sara, Casey (who pre-deceased her) Nicholas and Max as well as four great nieces. And she a proud citizen of ‘The Whelan Nation’, one of 37 first cousins and their families.
In cards and letters arriving by the dozens at her family’s home, Sara is described as loving, authentic, funny, smart, genuine; a woman with a beautiful smile and a twinkle in her eye. Her family and friends will love her and miss her forever. But she will live on in their smiles.
A Wake will be held on Friday, June 7th at 7:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, June 8th, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. Both will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 118 Chadwick Road in Teaneck, NJ.
Memorial Donations in Sara’s name may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, St. Marks Episcopal Church, or to the NCADD-NJ.