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In Memoriam--Sally Regan

Sally Regan

Class of 1968


Sally Regan, 74, died Oct. 21, 2021 in Scarborough, Maine of ovarian cancer. As a child she wanted to become a librarian or a teacher or a switchboard operator. She managed to do all three.

She was born Dec. 1, 1946, in Wareham, Mass. to Philip L. and Sally M. (Gould) Regan. Her father served in the U.S. Coast Guard. Her mother was a homemaker. She, her parents and her younger sister, Mary, lived on Cape Cod, in Honolulu and in Teaneck, N.J. before moving to Portland in 1962.

Sally graduated from Deering High School in 1964. She graduated from Wellesley College with a major in ancient Greek. After a year of graduate work in Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, she dropped out and married Christopher A. Page. They lived in Skowhegan, Portland, Baltimore (this was where she operated a switchboard) and San Francisco. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1979, and Sally returned to Portland.

She got a job at the Portland Public Library and worked there from 1979 through 1992, primarily in the Art and Audiovisual Department. In 1989 she earned an M.S. degree in Library and Information Science at Simmons College in Boston. She also joined the Greater Portland-Archangel Sister City Committee. Hosting Russian guests at her home and participating in two delegations to Archangel opened her eyes to how international peace could be fostered by ordinary people from different countries getting to know one another.

In 1993 she moved to Rockport to become director of the Rockport Public Library. In 1995 she married again. Her husband, John B. Barney, died of brain cancer in 1997.

Sally thought she had found her life’s work in librarianship, and Rockport was idyllic, but, in 2003, in response to the 9/11 attacks, she surprised everybody (including herself) by leaving her job to join the U.S. Peace Corps. She was sent to Ukraine, where, after Peace Corps training, she taught English to college students in Donetsk. Her two years there gave her a rich store of memories and lasting friendships among the people of the country.

In 2006 Sally came home to Portland. Opting to continue with teaching, she got a job as an ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) teacher at Portland Adult Education. She specialized in beginning levels; her students included people with little or no prior formal education. Sally considered this to be the most challenging and absorbing work of her life. To develop her skills, she did graduate work in Education at the University of Southern Maine. She received an M.S. in Literacy Education (ESL Concentration) in 2011.

Her interest in peace deepened. She joined Portland’s Women in Black peace vigil and stood for peace every week year-round for many years.

One last international adventure beckoned. Joining the Peace Corps again in 2013, Sally was sent to Azerbaijan as a trainer of Azeri teachers of English. She encountered a fascinating culture that included the overwhelming hospitality for which Azeris are known, but in 2014 her service was cut short by a diagnosis of ovarian cancer; she returned to Portland for treatment.

No longer having the stamina for classroom teaching, she turned to volunteer ESOL tutoring; she had students from Cambodia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Rwanda and Gabon. Activated by the 2016 Presidential election, she became a familiar face at marches and demonstrations. During this final period of her life, she benefited from the warm support of her family and her friends, particularly the loving parishioners of Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church in Portland and the vibrant (virtual) parish community of St. Cecilia’s in Boston. Courtesy of YouTube, she was also a daily attendee of Morning Prayer with Dean Robert’s Garden Congregation at Canterbury Cathedral in England.