Sarah Simpson Dean

Sarah Simpson Dean was born April 10, 1937, in Salina, Kansas, the daughter of Irene and Grover Simpson. She died of heart failure at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, in the presence of family, on Thursday, November 2, 2023.

In grade school she sold home-grown asparagus to neighbors from a little red wagon. She graduated from Salina High School in 1955, as the President of her senior class and near the top of her class academically. The following fall she entered the University of Kansas, joined the Pi Beta Phi sorority, and began the study of Occupational Therapy.

On November 15, 1958 she married Ensign Raymond H. Dean and spent the first two years of her married life with him at Sandia Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, she gave birth to their first son Stanley. In August 1960, they moved to Brighton, Massachusetts where Ray pursued graduate education. They lived there for a year, Sarah raising their young son.

In August 1961 they returned to the Midwest and bought a small home in Fairway, Kansas. There she gave birth to, and began raising, two more children, John and Katherine.

In 1964, the family moved back east to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, so Ray could pursue additional graduate education. As she raised her family, Sarah served as a deacon in the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church. With a committed group of local community leaders, she helped develop a children’s day-care center for underprivileged children.

In 1974, the family returned to the Midwest and settled in Mission Hills, Kansas, where they joined the Prairie Village Presbyterian Church. While the children finished grade school and matriculated through high school, she earned an MBA in business Administration and worked with other community members to promote women’s rights in the Greater Kansas City area. She also began to manage a family ranch near Junction City, and started working with several Kansas farmers to reduce chemical use.

Sarah was a deep supporter of numerous environmental non-profits, including the Land Institute in Salina, founded by their friends Wes and Dana Jackson. She was Board President of the Kansas Rural Center, and with her brother John Simpson, a founding Board member of the Kansas Land Trust.

In 1989, she and Ray moved into their final home on the north side of a 40-acre hay meadow in Southern Jefferson County. The house they built has a ground-source heat pump and hot-water and photovoltaic solar panels. They grew vegetables, tended sheep for awhile, and later raised chickens. Sarah continued her work with non-profits, including helping to organize a local food event featuring Alice Waters in 1994. She remained interested in local food and spent her grocery budget with farmers she had come to know. She was a great cook and a wonderful hostess.

Sarah’s survivors include her husband Ray, their three children Stan, John, and Kate and grandchildren Shelly and Jack Dean, Jordan and Caiden Dean, and Max and Kelsey Dunn. She also is survived by her brother, John Simpson.

In lieu of gifts or cards, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Land Institute, Lawrence Public Library, American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, Plymouth Congregational Church, Douglas County Community Foundation, or any other charity that fits Sarah’s values.

Services will be 11:00 AM Friday December 1 at the Plymouth Congregational church in Lawrence. Sarah’s ashes will be buried later at a private family gathering at her family’s plot in the Gypsum Hill Cemetery in Salina, KS.  Arrangements are with Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home of Lawrence.