In Memoriam – Sarah A. “Sally” Bunnell

Scene from the McMillan Ranch south of Colville, WA.

Sarah A. “Sally” Bunnell passed away on March 23, 2022 in the Reflections memory care community at MorningStar of Beaverton, shortly after entering hospice care. She was 90.

Sally Bunnell (2011)

Sally was raised on the McMillan family ranch in northeastern Washington, the daughter of David and Mary McMillan. After graduating from Colville High School, she attended Whitman College in Walla Walla. At Whitman she met Roderick “Rod” Bunnell; the couple married in 1955 and settled near Portland in 1963. While raising her family, Sally pursued a lifelong interest in regional history first as a docent for the Oregon Historical Society, then briefly as its Education Director, and later on the board of the Washington County Historical Society (now Five Oaks Museum).

Once her sons were of school age, Sally became a community volunteer, beginning with PTA and Scouting activities. An early supporter of the Cedar Mill Community Library, she also held numerous leadership roles at what is now Cedar Hills United Church of Christ. An early advocate for special-needs students, she served on various local school committees before being appointed to the Beaverton School District Board of Directors in 1979, then re-elected for two full terms. In 1990, she ran successfully for the Washington County Education Service District (ESD) board. In 1997, following a merger, she was elected to the board of its successor organization, the Northwest Regional ESD.

Sally was also an education advocate in the wider community. She was a longtime member of Beaverton’s Citizens for School Support, encouraging voters to approve tax levies and bond measures; of the Beaverton Education Foundation, raising funds for grants given to individual schools, programs, and educators; of the legislative committees of the Oregon School Boards Association and Oregon Association of ESDs; and of the Oregon State Scholarship Commission, aiding students in need of financial help to complete their educations.

Sally may have most enjoyed her role as historical consultant to the Beaverton School Board. Between 1993 and 2008, she prepared nine surveys for the Board in connection with the construction of ten new school buildings, in each case recommending historically significant names for the new schools appropriate to the history of their individual neighborhoods. The research needed for these projects was consistently thorough and always rewarding, and in six of the ten cases involved, the Board’s choice of a school name came from among Sally’s recommendations.

She is survived by a sister, Mary Brandt (Colville, WA),  sons John (Beaverton) and David (San Pedro, CA), daughter-in-law Jenna, and two grandchildren. Her husband of over 50 years, Roderick L. “Rod” Bunnell, died in 2015.

A memorial service will be held at 12:30 pm on Sunday, July 10 at Cedar Hills United Church of Christ. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Sally’s name to Beaverton Education Foundation, Cedar Hills United Church of Christ, Five Oaks Museum, and/or Whitman College.