Sarah Mae Monthony was born on February 3, 1942 in Saratoga Springs, NY to Sylvia (Silsby) Monthony and Harry S. Monthony. She grew up in Niagara County on her grandparents’ farm near the Erie Canal in the hamlet of Gasport, NY. After graduating from Newfane High School, Sarah also lived in Newfane, Leroy, Oakfield, Batavia, Rochester, NY and for a short time in Grand Rapids, MI. For most of her adult life Sarah lived in Rochester and most recently in Irondequoit.
She is predeceased by her brother Clayton Monthony (Shirley) of Lockport and Florida, her sister Joanne (Monthony) Antinore of Ohio, and her former husband Marble N. Spikes I of Elba.
She is survived by her brother, James F. Monthony (Lolita) of PEI, Canada, her four children James D. Benedetti (Carina) of Budd Lake, NJ, Maria (Benedetti) Dewhirst (William) of Irondequoit, NY, Kathleen Benedetti-Fisher of Irondequoit, NY and Marble N. Spikes (Cindy) of Clarence, NY.
Sarah was a loving mother and a prolific poet. She saw the best and beautiful in everyone.
Sarah wrote and read poetry throughout her life worked on several collections of her own poetry and the writing and artwork of her grandchildren. She was a great encourager of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, celebrating their talents and creativity. However she explored all the arts, using symbols and imagery in both to explore the depth of love in relationships and to understand God.
A major source of inspiration to Sarah was her cousin Vincey Ann Bouchere. After seeing Vincey Ann sketching portraits at an arts festival in Rochester. Sarah was intrigued. Sarah’s mother also took her to see a nativity at a school where Vincey Ann had created the crèche, the baby Jesus, that many villagers came to see. Seeing this creative expression inspired a life long exploration of the arts in Sarah which she has passed down to her children, grandchildren, and even to her great grandchildren who have read or recited their poetry at public poetry readings that Sarah has organized.
After marrying PJ Benedetti, Sarah lived in Leroy, NY where her first son was born, then moved to Oakfield, NY. While raising her children, Sarah submitted many poems to children’s magazines and to poetry reviews and journals. For a time she had a newspaper column, Poet’s Patchwork in the local newspaper. She protested the use of chemical warfare in Vietnam and war and non-violence campaigns, and a variety of writing groups and community projects. She was divorced in 1971.
Sarah resided in Batavia for awhile where she met her second husband, Marble N. Spikes I and had her fourth child, Marble N. Spikes II. When that marriage ended, Sarah moved to Michigan to live with her sister’s family in Grand Rapids where she began working on her first poetry collection “A Cup of Butterflies and Birdsongs” published my CompCare in 1976. During this time Sarah worked with many professionals to manage treatment for her mental illness and alcoholism.
When Sarah returned to NY, she was a member of Rochester AA for many years where she met Bill Dewhirst who later became a family member. Bill and Maria, and they started a family with whom Sarah lived in Irondequoit for more than a decade. She became part of a church community where she actively sought to make sense of her values, core beliefs and spirituality.
She eventually moved in with her youngest daughter for a short stay, then moved into Woodcrest Commons, Assisted Living in Henrietta. She continued to write and craft her poetry there, often organizing poetry readings.
Sarah stayed connected to AA by working with a sponsor in her final years. She was blessed to begin this in assisted living, while in skilled nursing facility, through the pandemic and right up until the time of her passing at home. She has recently become a member of the Irondequoit Serenity group. She loved AA, found hope, friendship and wisdom there, and always listened intently.
Sarah had great interest in and compassion for animals and though not much of a TV watcher, she loved watching wildlife programs. She owned a horse Champion as a child and loved riding him around the farm. She also told stories of her family dogs, Clancy and Patches.
Sarah left St John’s Nursing home in April of 2019 to live with her daughter Kathleen in Irondequoit. She soon considered that her home. She had regular visits with friends and family and was the protector and guardian of the family cat. At the end of her life Sarah struggled with stiffness, double vision from inoperable cataracts, and despite daily stretches and exercises, she lost more and more agility and movement. A team effort of many workers worked tirelessly to try to achieve a lack of pain and some measure of comfort.
When asked what she loved about living at home, other than being with family and friends more often, Sarah often said her computer and the world it opened up to her. She used an ipad to listen to and study the work of poets Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost and Rita Dove and to speeches that inspired her of Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Often her request was to listen to sermons of Father Jim Callan of Spiritus Christi and Pastor Mark Mills of Glory to Glory, two Rochester churches of which she had been part. She watched the news faithfully and was committed to following current events. Sarah got great peace and pleasure from music, nature programs and marveled at natural wonders and animal life. She loved surrounding herself with beauty.
But it was family, friends, family pets, poetry and her faith that were the source of her meaning and joy.
She spoke to Pastor Mark Mills to resolve questions that remained, and was ready to meet God. She thought of this often and loved sitting in the sunlight and spoke often of returning to see her sister Joanne.
U of R Home Care and Hospice assisted with pain reduction in her final days adding respect and dignity to her last days. She died peacefully with her children at her side and in her heart.
A church service will be held on Sunday, September 12th at Glory to Glory Church, 640 Brooks Avenue, Rochester at 3PM. A memorial service will also be held Sunday, September 19th at Lamberton Conservatory at 180 Reservoir Avenue in Rochester at 5:30PM.
In Sarah’s honor and memory contributions can be made to Writers & Books, where writers of all ages find community and encouragement and to Spiritus Christi Mental Health Center which offers counseling services to low income and the uninsured.
Contributions to Writers and Books can be mailed to Alison Meyers, Executive Director, 183 E. Main St., #1501, Rochester, NY 14607 or sent online at www.wab.org/donation .
Contributions to Spiritus Christi Mental Health Center can be mailed to SPMHC at 121 N. Fitzhugh Street, Rochester, NY 14607 or sent online at www.scmentalhealth.org/donate.