Sara Maust died at the age of 98 on March 10, 2013
in Santa Barbara after a short illness. She was filled with a zest for life, a lively wit, a warm heart, an inner strength and liberal political ideals, all of which she shared generously with family and friends.
Sara was born in Falls City, Nebraska to Mary Davies Hutchings and John Henry Hutchings. She had one brother, John (Jack) Henry Hutchings, Jr. who was two years her senior.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska, Sara earned a degree in Library Science from Columbia University. A year later she married a classmate, Joseph (Joe) Towne Wheeler. Ten months after the birth of their only child, Mary Jo, Joe was killed on the Italian front in World War II. Despite this devastating blow, Sara was able to regain her optimism and sense of humor.
Throughout her life, Sara loved children, stories, and the transformative process of bringing them together. Sara’s career as a children’s librarian began at the New York Public Library and continued at the Oak Park Public Library in Illinois where she was head of children’s work. While there, she earned an M.A. from the University of Chicago in Anthropology.
In 1955 Sara accepted a professorship at the University of Washington in Seattle where she taught children’s literature and storytelling. Sara wrote many articles for library journals, and for the World Book Encyclopedia, and had a storytelling program on local television. When she resigned in 1965, she was president of the Woman’s Faculty Club, of the Newberry-Caldecott Committee of the American Library Association (ALA) and of ALA’s Division of Services for Children and Young People.
In 1972 Sara’s life took a new direction. She married her high school sweetheart, Irving (Bud) Clayton Maust. When Bud retired they settled in Santa Barbara near Sara’s daughter Mary Jo, her granddaughter Sara, and Mary Jo’s husband James B. Hartle. Sara and Bud enjoyed traveling, often to visit Bud’s three children in Michigan. She loved his children and grandchildren and enjoyed sharing Bud’s favorite activities: boating, fishing, bridge, golf and dancing. Sara served on the boards of the Santa Barbara Women’s Club, the Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library and the Women’s Board of the Community Arts Music Association.
Sara and Bud moved to Valle Verde in 2001 and he died in 2005. Sara’s zest for life continued after his death, as she made lasting friendships, passionately followed political events and organized weekly Scrabble games.
Sara is survived by her daughter, Mary Jo Hartle, by her granddaughter, Sara Wheeler-Smith, by her husband Bud’s children Breon Lott and Brian Maust and by his seven grandchildren and twin great-grandchildren.
There will be a celebration of her life on April 7 at 2 p.m. in the Social Room at Valle Verde. Sara may be remembered by gifts to the Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library or to Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara.
Arrangements entrusted to McDermott-Crockett Mortuary