Saturday, June 06, 2009

Sally

Sally Hefley passed away on the morning of June 6, 2009. She died as she lived; at peace, surrounded by people whose lives she touched, both Venezuelan and ex-patriot Americans. She is survived by her sons Daniel Hefley, granddaughter Dania, both of Lecheria, Venezuela, David Hefley of Omaha, Nebraska, and her stepdaughters…, and her whole extended ELA family (more on that later).

She was born August 3, 1938, in Houston, TX. She was a graduate of Lamar H.S., and later Wellesley College.

The adventurous part of her life began when she married the-love-of-her-life, Riley Hefley in 1963. Riley had three daughters from a previous marriage, and they raised two sons of their own.

In 1966 Riley and Sally immigrated to Venezuela where they farmed and raised cattle on the western llanos. When they first arrived, they lived in an adobe mud hut, where they heated their bathwater on the exhaust manifold of their gasoline-powered electric generator. Living the romantic life on the Venezuelan plains, husband Riley would return from supply runs to Barinas with fresh lettuce, cheese, and ice. These where moments of celebration…fresh salad and cold drinks!

After a few years, Riley got a job in the Venezuelan oil industry in Anaco and Maracaibo where Sally followed. They enjoyed life in the oil camps but farming was still Riley’s first love according to Sally, so they returned to the farm on the llanos of Barinas.

They eventually returned to Texas where they had a goat farm in Wharton. It was there, Sally worked as a high school math teacher and she found her calling as an educator. It was a profession where she could use her altruistic nature to help nurture the potential in others.

Eventually it was decided to return to Venezuela with their two sons where Riley once again worked in the petroleum business in eastern Venezuela. Of course they also had a farm, so when they weren’t in the oil fields, they were in their own fields growing a variety vegetables and mangos for market.

It was at this time, while in Anaco, Sally once again became involved in education. She was on the advisory board at Escuela Anaco, an international school.

After relocating to Barcelona in the early/mid-1990s, she saw the potential and the need for an international school in the Caribbean city of Puerto la Cruz. Partnering up with Dr. William McWhorter, who already had founded schools in the cities El Tigre and Maturin, she co-founded and co-owned Escuela de las Americas-PLC, in Puerto la Cruz. It opened its doors in 1997 with 10 students in an unused section of an old hotel.

By 2000, ELA-PLC had grown to nearly 100 students, ranging from prekindergarten to 12th grade, both from the local Venezuelan community as well as the global ex-patriot community. They moved into a new building in the satellite community of Lecheria.

It was also about this time when Sally tragically lost the-love-of-her-life, Riley, who was unjustly killed in a dispute at their farm. Instead of giving up, Sally put forth 100 percent of her energy into the school. She gathered the “dream-team” in teachers, and enrollment continued to grow.

At ELA, she gave students who would not normally be able to afford a high-caliber education, the opportunity to attend. She emphasized the family of ELA. All students, teachers, and staff, where part of the ELA family.

The first half of her adult life was dedicated to her husband Riley, whom she helped 110 percent. She and Riley were partners for life and in life. After Riley’s death, she channeled that same dedication into her family at Escuela de las Americas.

Because of her guidance and generosity, and forthright personality, she allowed many people to rise beyond their own expectations. Through tough love, and understanding, she brought the best out of people. Sally Hefley was a great woman and mom to everyone. She was the momma bear.

Today, the global education community has lost a great leader.

7 comments:

SS:Mtn Biker said...

My heart goes out to each of you,B. She sounded like a truely amazing woman,one I would have been proud to have known.

Steve

Ookami said...

She left a beautiful legacy. You wrote about her most beautifully. I am sorry for your loss.

redravine said...

I was just about to turn off the computer when I saw that you'd done a few new posts. I'm so sorry to hear that you've lost a friend and what appears to be a mentor. Someone you greatly admired. You've written a wonderful tribute to her. I'm very sorry, B. You'll have to tell me more when you're here.

Gordon said...

It was with great sorrow and tears that we heard of the passing away of Sally. Our heart and thoughts go out to her family. It was a previledge and honour to have known her and been part of her inspired team at ELA.

Gordon and Lorrie

C├ęsar said...

Today My Mother and I where thinking of Ms. Sally, I`m not much of a Blog reader, but after I tried to get in touch with her the last chance I had was to google her name and I landed in your blog.
Sally Hefley was like a second mother to me, Morelia Gonzalez gave me my life and raised me and Sally showed me the way to the man that I am at this moment. She inspired me with her eagerness and goodwill. Eventhough we lost touch everyonce in awhile, the sentimental ties that kept us together in heart were very strong. Today I shared a tear with my mom, something very special (We don`t cry very often) and it was special because It was for a great woman, as you say, It was for Momma Bear. I`m a proud partner of her legacy, and everytime I wear my uniform as an airline pilot I will do it in honor of My Dear Ms. Sally.

Maryjoe said...

I found this in google 3 years later, makes me want to cry. I attended ELA 06-07 best years of my life. I loved it so much, i wish i could go back but i know nobody will be there... Ms Sally was a lovely women with a great energy that transmitted to the people around her, she hugged me and i felt like it was family.

With all i just found out about her i admire her even more. i was just 11 years old when i met her I'm now 17 and i still have her present.
and how well she welcomed me into the school i will never forget her ambility, sending my father emails about my day to day improvements in school, really helped me a lot.

The best way to remember someone it to do it with a smile on your face. You will not be able to do it soon but at least try and this will make the soul of the one who has gone happy.

Memory can tell us only what we were,
In company with those we loved;
It cannot help us find out what each of us,
Alone, must now become.
Yet, no person is really alone;
Those who live no more still echo
Within our thoughts and words,
And what they did has become
Woven into what we are.

Daniel Hefley, my technology teacher, We will never be able to forget your mother, as she will always be in our heart.

Sincerely ,
Maria Jose Sanchez

Maryjoe said...

I found this in google 3 years later, makes me want to cry. I attended ELA 06-07 best years of my life. I loved it so much, i wish i could go back but i know nobody will be there... Ms Sally was a lovely women with a great energy that transmitted to the people around her, she hugged me and i felt like it was family.

With all i just found out about her i admire her even more. i was just 11 years old when i met her I'm now 17 and i still have her present.
and how well she welcomed me into the school i will never forget her ambility, sending my father emails about my day to day improvements in school, really helped me a lot.

The best way to remember someone it to do it with a smile on your face. You will not be able to do it soon but at least try and this will make the soul of the one who has gone happy.

Memory can tell us only what we were,
In company with those we loved;
It cannot help us find out what each of us,
Alone, must now become.
Yet, no person is really alone;
Those who live no more still echo
Within our thoughts and words,
And what they did has become
Woven into what we are.

Daniel Hefley, my technology teacher, We will never be able to forget your mother, as she will always be in our heart.

Sincerely ,
Maria Jose Sanchez