Sally Wilson

Born in 1930 in Fremont, Ohio, Sally started her adult life as a homemaker, raising three children. She later finished college, worked as a secretary, and eventually landed a job as a rehabilitation aide, helping disabled people enter the workforce.

In addition to sewing, knitting and crocheting, Sally quilted in her senior years — so often and so well, in fact, she quickly became a master quilter. She also loved baking. Famous for her cherry pie, she clinched ribbon after ribbon from the Sandusky County Fair. When she wasn’t busy creating with her hands, she would stay active in exercise class or catch up with friends. She was also involved in her church, where she served on the communion committee.

As if those activities weren’t enough, before retirement, Sally owned and rented out several mobile homes. On any given day, it wasn’t unusual to spot her working on the roof of one of those mobile homes rolling new tar, or find her baking cookies for a new neighbor or feeding and watering the neighborhood cats.  

“Her hands were never idle,” says Sheila Rohm, Sally’s youngest daughter. “And she always had a sparkle in her eyes, like her dad.”

When Sally was in her 60s, she began having symptoms of heart disease, though thankfully she never experienced any pain. After consulting with her local doctor, she was told her condition was inoperable. That news, however, didn’t slow her down, and she lived a normal life until she was well into her 80s.

The idea of donating her body to medical education began with Sally’s parents, who had donated their bodies to a local medical college. Because Sally was filled with gratitude her entire life, says Sheila, it made sense for her to donate her body as well. This giant gesture was her way of “giving back” to the medical community for the care she received and of making a difference to the future of medicine.

When Sally died, just seven days shy of her 88th birthday, Sheila contacted the Cleveland Clinic Body Donation Program.

“I have great respect for Cleveland Clinic. I have a family member who works there, and we get our medical care there,” says Sheila. Recalling her mother’s deep sense of gratitude and appreciation, she adds, “I’m sure Mom would be thanking the students now, if she could.”

At Sally’s memorial service, many of her handmade creations were displayed for everyone to enjoy. “She continued to work on her many quilting and knitting projects until the day before she died,” says Sheila, who now has many of her mother’s creations. “Her handiwork is her legacy.” That, and giving the priceless gift of herself to benefit mankind.