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Sara Livermore

Sara Livermore was born June Livermore on June 19, 1927 in Charlotte North Carolina to Joseph Mason Livermore and Marjory Livermore nee Stone. Her birth and early childhood in North Carolina was a happenstance of her fatherís profession of civil engineer, a job that involved constant relocation as he moved himself and his family across the country following the work of erecting factories, first for the regeneration of a shattered economy in the depths of the depression, and later for the rearmament of America leading up to  and during World War II. Throughout all the relocations of her childhood, her parents maintained a summer house in Little Neck on the Ipswich shore, where her motherís family was from. It was a town and a part of the United States that Sara would return to as a touchstone throughout her life, eventually settling there for her last decades, ending where she began.

She finished high school at Abbot Academy for girls during the war Ė a place that would make an outsized impression on her, forming female friendships that would last her lifetime, and from neighboring Phillips Academy, meeting  Harry Reid whom she would soon marry at the young age of nineteen. The marriage was followed quickly by the birth of her first son, Thomas Reid. Although the marriage disappointed, the child did not, and at a still young age she found herself as a single mother enrolling in Radcliff Collage at a time when such an improvised family structure did not fit in with social norms. Saraís willingness to push for what she believed was right and not heed to orthodoxy would be a governing principal of her life. Radcliff led her and Tom to settle in Cambridge, where she began teaching elementary school. In Cambridge she met and ultimately married Alex Cvijanovic, an architect. The marriage to Alex led to sons Adam and Peter. Although that marriage also ended, the next four decades created enduring themes: caring for her sons and education.

Sara went back to school for a masterís in education at Lesley collage in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She continued to teach elementary school but also began to tutor children with learning disabilities. Later on, she began teaching adults from other countries. At first, she taught adults attending the universities around Cambridge, but soon expanded her horizons and began teaching the disadvantaged. When she was living in California to be near Tomís son Nate, her only grandchild, she taught the teenage children of poor immigrants in San Franciscoís Chinatown.

When she moved back east to the North Shore, she continued tutoring adults in English, now drawing from the large Portuguese speaking community in Eastern Massachusetts. Sensibilities come from words, opportunity and choice come from the mastery of language, a belief she held so firmly. This belief came from an earlier intervention in her own life, at Abbot, during the war. An English teacher at the academy named Alice Sweeny was given the task of settling down a rowdy schoolgirl with no discipline, but what she gave to Sara was the key to the power of her own mind, the infinite possibilities of language. It was gift Sara was determined to share with the wider world. By helping those who struggled with the disadvantage of not speaking native English, Sara would make a powerful political statement, what it was to be an American. Her family had arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630ís, if anybody could claim pedigree it was Sara, but she did not do so in a way that held it above anybody else Ė  to her, anybody who wasnít native American was an immigrant whether they came on the Mayflower or arrived only two months ago. The thing that binds us together is a value system shared in language, ethos imbedded in words. She gave this power to many people scattered throughout this country, and they in turn have taken what they learned and made choices and had impacts on people around them who never met Sara and anon, this is what being an educator is and that is what Sara Livermore did.

As to the other great project of her life, her sons, family, and old friends there is more complication. There were misunderstandings and mistakes as there always are in families and deep friendships Ė always. But in the last years of her life even as she became frailer, by turn she also became stronger. Ever physical diminishment was matched by a spiritual growth, the love that binds never faded but was reinvented, the unfailing sharpness of her mind was devoted to that reinvention and the astonishing charity of a cranky old Yankee became an inspiration to all who saw it or were able to live within its gift.  In her last decade, she lent some measure of her intellect and perspective on history to creating an Ancestry project linking old family and to writing the story of a fictional old North Shore house, Seafields, which will be published posthumously. 

Sara Livermore died on July 19, 2020 in the Town of Ipswich at the age of 93. She is survived by her three sons, Tom Reid of Springfield Oregon, Adam Cvijanovic of Brooklyn New York and Peter Cvijanovic of Portland Oregon, her Grandson Nate Reid of Redwood City, California, and her great grandson Ayan Rylan Reid. By all of her extended family and many other great friends and acquaintances, she will be missed.

Private funeral arrangements were by the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.


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