Sarah Begley, ‘Civic-Minded’ Writer, Social Organizer from Stockbridge, Dies at 88

STOCKBRIDGE — Sarah H. “Sally” Begley worked as a correspondent, columnist and book reviewer for The Eagle in the early 1970s, but she was best known in Stockbridge as a tireless advocate for a host of local organizations.

“Sally was very smart and always very civic-minded,” said her friend, Carole Owens. “She was a member of who knows how many boards here.”

Begley died Monday at her home. She was 88.

Begley was a member of the board of directors of the Housatonic River Watershed Association, the board of directors of the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, the Berkshire County Transportation Advisory Group and served as chairwoman of the Berkshire County Historical Society.

Locally, she was active in the Stockbridge Democratic Committee and was a longtime member of the Stockbridge Planning Board, serving on a host of subcommittees for that group in the 1980s and ’90s.

Begley was also a founder of the Stockbridge Land Trust, and a longtime and vocal advocate of conservation.

A graduate of Radcliffe College, education was another of Begley’s causes. In 1982, at age of 43, she went back to college and earned a master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. For her master’s thesis, she assembled a critically acclaimed exhibit of portraits of friends and colleagues of pioneering journalist and transcendentalist Margaret Fuller. The exhibit was hung at the Boston Athenaeum.

She also was known for her summer parties at her home on Yale Hill, Three Barns.

“It was one the signature events in Stockbridge during the summer,” Owens said. “The party was at her house at the top of Yale Hill.”

Begley’s energy seemed boundless from the 1970s to the late 1990s, but in her later years, she suffered from Lyme disease. She said in the early 2000s that the discomfort was considerable.

“It sapped her,” Owens said. “She battled it for years. But she was always upbeat.”

A funeral service for Begley will be held at the First Congregational Church in Stockbridge at 1 p.m. Jan. 13. Mourners are asked to consider a donation to the Stockbridge Land Trust or the Stockbridge Library Association.

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

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