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Sally Wellborn


Friday, October 27, 2017

Cornish, N.H. — Sally Wellborn, who died of natural causes on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, loved to dance and make art and raise gardens. She was born in 1935 in Schenectady, N.Y., received a formal education at Emma Willard School and Vassar College and some brief technical instruction at Katherine Gibbs School and Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She married twice, mothered five sons, lactated for eight years and for nearly five decades, cooked every meal on a woodstove.

In 1969 she settled in Cornish with her partner, Bill Gallagher, where they fashioned a cow barn of hay bales and she began to practice some of the skills that were survival necessities for previous generations: general farming, domestic fuel production, herbal medicine-making, home birthing and home schooling, gardening and food preservation on a scale that for several decades satisfied the large part of her family’s annual needs for vegetables and fruits, animal protein and dairy products.

Her commitment to improving and maintaining the health of the land manifested as contributions to local environmental protection efforts. She helped to found and edit The Cornish Commongood, served as a member of the first Cornish Conservation Commission, worked as an original organizer of Working On Waste, created mastheads, posters and signs for many counterculture projects and occasionally marched, testified and trespassed in their service.

She felt strongly that gratitude and benign responsiveness toward our biological environment, including the species with whom we share it, is fundamental to wise public decision-making. But political action was never her medium of choice with which to express this belief. Her natural, creative connection with human society was quintessentially as an artist. She sometimes referred to her work in various media — painting, weaving, printmaking, sculpture, collage, writing — as her “real life.” Her work was exhibited in local venues for 50 years. Her vegetable garden was admired for its beauty. The baskets she wove of foraged materials evolved into fiber sculptures, the houseplants of her windowsills into an indoor jungle, her observations into poetry and fiction.

She is survived by her husband, William Edward Gallagher of Cornish; and her sons and their families: Douglas McMullen Daniell, Susan Daniell and Owen Daniell of Eugene, Ore.; Alexander O’Brien Daniell and Rachael Wassenaar of Eugene; Matthew Wellborn Daniell of West Newbury, Mass.; Malaika Tabors of Cambridge, Mass.; Dillon Gallagher and Marie DeRusha of Cornish; and Gwyn Wellborn Gallagher and Heather Gallagher of Cornish.

Thanks to co-operative care from her children, spouse and Bayada Hospice, she had, for 18 days, ceased ingesting all food and most liquid, in an attempt to meet her death (tranquility) as a trusted friend. A private burial ceremony was held at the family graveyard at Many Summers Farm in Cornish. A celebration of Sally’s life will be held outdoors next summer.