Sarah Beth Tilford, 35, of Bloomington passed away on March 26, 2011.
She was born to Polly Ann and John Willard Tilford on 19 February, 1976 in the Bloomington Hospital. Bright and cheerful -- but definitely opinionated -- her childhood was filled with joy. She often attempted to correct her older brother Aaron's behavior, earning the nickname "Sister Saint." She loved animals, especially cats. She ran hurdles for fun, played lawn soccer, and "built" houses in the woods. She dearly loved her grandparents, Rex A. and Norma J. Bruce of Bloomington.
As mental and physical disorders began to drag her down, she commented that she was glad she had "already done everything." At five, she learned functional Spanish at her temporary Columbus, Georgia, kindergarten -- in two months. At twelve, she participated in a Girl Scout Wider Opportunity horsemanship camp in Wyoming for a week, later earning the Girl Scout Gold Award for patriotic projects including teaching United States flag etiquette and placing a flagpole in the Oard Road Cemetery. She held first chair, clarinet in her middle school orchestra. At fifteen, she had seen Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, looked out over the Swiss Alps from a 10,000 foot mountain, ridden a London double-decker bus to Madame Tussauds, walked in Paul's steps in Rome and toured the Coliseum, covertly photographed the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Saint Peter's in the Vatican with her little plastic 35mm camera (producing a better image than that being sold by the street vendors), seen Michelangelo's David in Florence, visited the Leaning Tower in Pisa, seen the canals in Venice and Juliet's balcony in Verona, been paged in a Telford, England shopping mall, and had been an overnight guest in the home of Lord Elgin's secretary in Limekiln, Scotland. In her twenties and without training, Sarah snow skied near Nashville, Indiana, and paraglided in Jamaica. She was a beautiful young woman, which no doubt contributed to Sarah's making small talk with Christian Slater in New York while visiting her brother Aaron -- resulting in one of her favorite photographs.
Sarah worked a variety of jobs when she was able, from landscape laborer to waitress to precision medical apparatus fabrication. She wrote poetry in the form of song lyrics in her notebooks. Sarah had an unusually pure tenor singing voice and spoke of performing, but never did. She graduated from Bloomington North High School and had attended both Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College. Sarah hoped to assist with the AWANA (Bible verses) children's' program at New Unionville Baptist Church. She was looking forward to aquatics therapy at Rebound.
Sarah was baptized into Christ at twelve, and felt the need and was re-baptized at thirty-two. She often stated she wanted to do volunteer work, to help people with similar problems, but she was not physically able to do so. She regularly visited the grave of a friend, each time laying a flower on his marker. Sarah's new mind and body are strong and whole and pain-free. She can run as with the wings of eagles and not grow tired. Sarah is not hurting any longer.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to Hoosier Honor Flight at American Legion Post 18, 1800 West 3rd Street, Bloomington, IN 47404; or to the Bloomington Animal Shelter, 3410 South Walnut Street, Bloomington, IN 47403.
Sarah is survived by her parents John W. and Polly A. (Bruce) Tilford of Bloomington, brother Aaron James Tilford of New York City, grandparents Rex A. and Norma J. Bruce of Bloomington, an aunt Pamela Saulter and her husband Steve of Bloomington, cousins Bruce Charles Saulter of Florida and Rebecca Jill Saulter of Bloomington, and her cat, Amoré Jean. She was preceded in death by grandparents Willard L. and Elizabeth F. Tilford, and step-grandmother Amanda (Jackson, Price) Tilford.
Due to administrative error, this obituary is being published too late for readers to attend Sarah's memorial service which was held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at the Allen Funeral Home, Bloomington, IN. The family met with friends immediately following the memorial service.
Friends can still send condolences to www.allenfuneralhome.org.