Sara B. Fair SleeperSeptember 23, 1917 ~ March 7, 2019 (age 101)
Sara Barbara Fair Sleeper, died peacefully on March 7, 2019, at the age of 101 in Hutchinson, Kansas. She was born in Alden, Kansas, on September 23, 1917 to Nina M. Altland Fair and James H. Fair. JH was out in the field hauling silage when he was told he had a daughter. As their only child she was much loved and enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Alden, and often reminisced about how fortunate she was to have lived in small town America. Sara graduated from Alden High School in 1936, followed by Stephens College in 1938, and the University of Kansas in 1941. Sara was always her father’s daughter, and worked in the Alden State Bank as a teller after her graduation from KU and during World War II. She met her future husband, Alan R. Sleeper, while majoring in English at the University of Kansas. They were married on April 12, 1945, when Alan returned from the war. Sara was ahead of her time in that she did not hesitate to be part of a man’s world especially considering that she was born before women had the right to vote. She inherited her father’s business acumen and was part of The Sara and Alan team to manage land as true business partners, be it farming or native grassland. The one thing Sara did not partner with Alan on was Prairie Flower Crafts. She started it in 1970, and amassed such an extensive fabric inventory that Alden became a destination for quilters across the Midwest. Sara actively ran it until 2014 when, at the age of 97, she decided the best business decision was to sell it to Paula Royer. When Alan decided to get his pilot’s license it never occurred to her to stay behind. She learned to fly as well. Together, flying their Piper Cub and later Piper Comanche, they not only traveled for business but also enjoyed all the Midwest had to offer, from Royals games to board meetings. Their travels were not limited to the Midwest or even the United States. Sara and Alan were world travelers. They explored the four corners of the globe. She even smuggled bibles in her suitcase into Communist Russia. Sara was devoted to her family and community. She was an active member of the United Methodist Church in Alden, and taught Sunday school there for many years. She loved to garden, especially her roses and daylilies. When the Alden Depot was closed and required to be moved, Sara bought the building, moved it across the railroad tracks and furnished it with memorabilia of bygone days on the railroad. Many people remember Sara with a camera in her hand. She was an avid photographer and started taking photos and videos of Alden’s daily life and special events as early as the 1940s. If there was an Alden event, Sara was there to document it, leaving behind a lifetime of memories. Another often-noted memory of Sara is of her pedal to the metal driving through Alden in her car. She loved to drive and drive fast. In the late 30s she had the iconic Lincoln Zephyr. It was a hard time and many people didn’t have cars. If someone needed a ride to get to class at KU, she would load them up in her car and drive them to school. Sara took her responsibilities as an American citizen very seriously and gave her time and energy to numerous boards and organizations. She served as a director of First National Bank of Hutchinson, curator of Stephens College, and was a trustee of Kansas Wesleyan of Salina. She served on the boards of Wesley Towers, her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and the Kansas Cosmosphere. In addition to that, she was a member of the American Association of University Women (the nation’s leading voice for promoting equity and education for women and girls), the Ninety-Nines (an international organization of licensed women pilots), the League of Women Voters, the Order of the Eastern Star and the Kansas Republican Party. Sara is survived by her children, Barbara Sleeper Hulsizer of Lexington, MA, and James Sleeper of Santa Fe, NM; her grandchildren, Eva Hulsizer of Brooklyn, NY, and Noah Hulsizer (Nikita Maxwell) of Portland, OR; and her great-grandchildren, Mars, Echo, and Aeon Hulsizer of Portland, OR. Sara lived a full life to the end. Funeral service will be 10:00 A.M., Monday, March 11, 2019 at Alden United Methodist Church, with Pastor Rob Bolton officiating. Burial will be at Alden Valley Cemetery. Visitation will be from 2:00 until 4:00 P.M., Sunday, March 10, 2019 at Birzer Funeral Home, Sterling with family present. Memorials may be given to Alden United Methodist Church in care of Birzer Funeral Home, Sterling. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.birzerfuneralhomes.com.