on March 9, 2014 - 6:06 PM
Sept. 13, 1924 – March 4, 2014
NIAGARA FALLS – Sarah Maria Rotella, of Niagara Falls, a teacher and office worker, died Tuesday in Our Lady of Peace Healthcare Center after a brief illness. She was 89.
Born in Niagara Falls, she was an honor student in the Class of 1943 at Niagara Falls High School while working as a sales clerk at Jenss department store and in the office at Carborundum Corp.
After graduating, Miss Rotella worked in the office at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and became secretary to the general manager. After the company closed its Niagara Falls offices, she was hired as office manager for Tourism Niagara.
She attended evening classes at Niagara University in the 1960s, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and receiving her certification to teach Spanish. She was a substitute teacher for many years in the Niagara Falls School District.
She also served as a member of the negotiating team for her unit of New York State United Teachers and was treasurer and membership chairwoman for 16 years. She was given an award by the unit when she retired at 77.
Miss Rotella also taught evening adult education classes in typing and shorthand in the Niagara Falls schools for 12 years and taught English to migrant farm workers at Barker High School.
She was a Girl Scout leader for two troops and enjoyed summer camping with the scouts. She also served on the board of directors of the YWCA and was instrumental in restoring the after-school Girl Reserved Program for high school students.
During World War II, she was a neighborhood air raid warden and was senior chairwoman for the YWCA’s military program, which provided refreshments and entertainment for servicemen based nearby.
A member of the Niagara Falls Chapter of the Catholic Daughters of America, she served as secretary, historian and director of the high school girls program. She also served on its community ambassador and student exchange programs.
From 1957 to the mid-1970s, she was local volunteer community coordinator for the Experiment in International Living, arranging lodging, transportation and social activities for visitors from abroad.
She enjoyed gardening, crocheting, tatting, embroidery, macrame, ceramics, needlepoint and making candles.
Survivors include a half-brother, Bernie, and a half-sister, Mary Lou Rawls.
A memorial Mass will be offered at a later date.