Like the Mozart piano sonatas, she played so beautifully, Sarah Rector Aguilar now hears the music of the heavens.
Surrounded by her children and sisters with sparrows feeding outside the window, Sarah died on May 15th in her South Pasadena family home. She was 62 and the cause of death was breast cancer.
A renaissance woman to her core, Sarah played four instruments, was a two-sport college athlete, a medaled Marathon runner, trainer of dogs, scholar of Russian history at Claremont McKenna College, beloved educator, devoted mother, sister, aunt, daughter and friend. She read everything, memorized stats from the World Almanac better than an A.I. program and never forgot a name.
Decency and humility were Sarah’s trademark. Growing up at a time when trophies were given for excellence only, Sarah had a shelf lined with them. A quiet leader, her ability to listen and value others made Sarah not only a cherished friend and family member, but an outstanding teacher.
Sarah stopped at nothing to connect with minds that saw the world differently. A respected educator of special needs children in the Pasadena Unified School District’s San Rafael, Webster and Jefferson elementary schools, Sarah’s unique games, curriculum and talent are remembered by many. She even gave some of her own trophies to students to keep them motivated.
Few knew that Sarah was rumored to be the next Joan Benoit in the early 1990s. In only her second marathon ever, on the freezing hills of Seattle, she blasted to the finish in first place, and only minutes behind Olympic qualifying times. This set Sarah on pace to run and train for competitive marathons, a skill that fit her perseverance, grit and determination. Her father Irving used to wait in a lawn chair at the finish line and sister Ann biked beside as a pacer.
Having lost her husband Mark to a stroke in 2012, Sarah nevertheless went on to parent Albert and Alexi and care for her mother Shelby. Sarah led a life of service. She was a brilliant, beautiful soul who will be missed dearly.
She is preceded in death by parents Irving and Shelby Rector and is survived by son Albert Aguilar, daughter Alexi Seale and sisters Ann Rector (Nancy Megli) and Lucy Filppu (Len, Arthur and Dori Filppu).
The family wishes to thank the Kaiser Hospice team for their extraordinary care in the last five months. Memorial services will be held at Neighborhood Church in Pasadena at a forthcoming date.