Sarah Neily Vandenberg, 79, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, February 6, 2024.
She was born on February 17, 1944 in Pulaski, VA, the second of two children of Warren “Bud” Sanders Neily and Sally Arrington Neily of Blacksburg, VA.
Sarah was preceded in death by her parents, and by her beloved husband of nearly 55 years, Peter Gerard Vandenberg, who called her “Sa.”
Sarah graduated from Blacksburg High School in 1962, where she was a cheerleader and won the Betty Crocker Baking Award. There she met and later married her high school sweetheart, Peter Vandenberg, in 1963. She graduated from Radford College in 1966 with a degree in elementary education. Sarah and Peter moved to Ayden, NC in 1966 and then to Laurinburg, NC in 1971, where they raised their family.
As her children entered their teens, Sarah returned to work and was a dedicated employee of the Scotland County School System, serving as a teacher and later working in the administrative office. She retired in 2004 and joined Peter to spend her retirement years in Floyd, VA.
Sarah was an avid reader and enjoyed going to bed early to read a good book with her cat Phoebe at her side. Sarah loved animals and enjoying petting dogs wherever she went. She was an accomplished pianist and played classical and 1940s classics, alike. If you listen closely on any family home video, you can hear the piano melodies streaming in the background. She faithfully typed the weekly bulletin for her home church in Laurinburg, The Lutheran Church of the Living Word, and was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church in Floyd, VA after her retirement.
Her Christmas stockings were legendary – overflowing with meaningful gifts that left no room for candy! She was a brisk walker even when she was not walking for exercise, rustling newspapers and magazine pages when she passed unsuspecting readers. She had a knack for creating a warm and inviting home by arranging rugs, lamps and furniture in way that compelled visitors to take a seat and relax. She was a strict grammarian, always ready to offer guidance regarding the use of lay vs. lie, or affect vs. effect. Sarah was an excellent cook and early adopter of many of the healthy cooking concepts that are commonplace today. She enjoyed sewing everything from Halloween costumes to dresses to curtains. She also enjoyed needlework and made several large and intricate cross stitch samplers, which she customized with her favorite hymn verses.
Following the death of her husband in 2018, Sarah relocated to Boone, and then Abingdon, under the loving care of her son, Peter, and daughter-in-law, Wendi, and their family, until her passing.
Sarah is survived by her brother, Warren “Buddy” Sanders Neily, Jr (Judy) of Blacksburg, VA; and her three children, Charles Vandenberg (Pam) of Laurinburg, NC; Peter Vandenberg (Wendi) of Abingdon, VA; and Meg Vandenberg Pulliam (Andy) of Winston-Salem, NC. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Lee Vandenberg (Emily) and David Vandenberg; Andrew Vandenberg, Peter Vandenberg (Julianna), Will Vandenberg (Laiken), and Sam Vandenberg; Sarah and Alice Pulliam; and by one great-grandchild, Ronan Lee Vandenberg. In addition, she is survived by many nieces, nephews, and in-laws.
A private family gathering honoring Sarah's memory is planned for the spring.
Frost Funeral Home and Cremation Services is honored to serve the family of Ms. Sarah Vandenberg.