Sally Brittingham, 68, of Sunnyside passed away Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital with her son, Robert, by her side. Sally will be so truly missed by her family, friends and all who knew her.
Sally was born June 8, 1940 in Jackson, Mich. to Robert Hugh O'Neill and Mary (Moore) O'Neill. She graduated from Jackson High School in 1958 and began attending the Mercy School of Nursing (a Sisters of Mercy school) in Lansing, Mich. Shortly before her graduation, the Mother Superior felt that due to Sally's great empathy, giving heart and attachment to her patients, it would be best for Sally to seek another vocation. Returning home to Jackson, she attended Jackson Junior College working towards her Associate of Arts, while working full-time to support her mother and father. During this time, she worked as a runway model for Jacobson's Department Stores, a dental hygienist and receptionist for a local dentist and as a bank teller for City Bank in Jackson. Also during this time, her brother's marriage ended and Sally agreed to take in and care for her nephews, Mark & Randy, and niece, Cindy.
In 1965, Sally began working for Aeroquip Aerospace Corporation based in Jackson. Aeroquip was a Boeing subcontractor and during this time was working to build parts and components for NASA used in both the Gemini and Apollo series of capsules. She was particularly proud of her time spent at Aeroquip at such a historic time. Originally, she began work as a timekeeper, but after stopping an espionage attempt at the plant, was promoted to Boeing liaison. She worked to help coordinate communications, delivery schedules, and other minutiae vital to the space effort. After serious cuts in space funding in 1969-1970, Aeroquip was forced to lay off many of its workers.
In 1970, Sally took the civil service exam and was hired to serve as a personnel placement specialist with the Michigan Department of Labor in Ann Arbor, Mich. She always said that this was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, working to help people find jobs and primarily was responsible for placing workers at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
Engaged 13 times, Sally always said, "dating was when you became acquainted with someone, but an engagement was when you really got to know a person." She also received about a hundred other proposals of marriage, but due to having to support her mother, she was unable to marry.
On April 3, 1973, Sally married Dr. Louis Ward Brittingham Jr. at the Dexter United Methodist Church outside of Ann Arbor, Mich. Unfortunately, her bliss was to be short-lived and shortly after her wedding she was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer suffusing most of her pelvis and thighs. Undergoing surgery and displaying her strong will and determination, Sally was able to beat the cancer into remission. Returning to work too soon after surgery, Sally suffered three major strokes and was forced to relearn how to walk, talk, read and write.
On Aug. 6, 1979, Sally gave birth to her son, Robert, via c-section in Des Moines, Iowa. On Jan. 14, 1981, Sally gave birth to her second son, Danial, also by c-section in Des Moines. Sally always said she never truly understood what she was missing until she became a mother, and that this was when her life "truly began".
In Dec. 1981, Dr. & Mrs. Brittingham moved their family to the then small farming community of Sunnyside where Dr. Brittingham became chief of radiology at Sunnyside General Hospital and later Sunnyside Community Hospital. Sally always said that Sunnyside was the perfect place to raise her boys with the close-knit community, outstanding parks and recreation programs, Sunnyside Rotary Swim Team and the dedicated staff of the Sunnyside schools.
During her time in Sunnyside, she served on the boards for the Sunnyside General and Sunnyside Community Hospitals Ladies' Auxiliaries helping to coordinate fundraising efforts, chairing and catering the annual Medical Ball. In 1991, Sally served as the First Lady of the Washington State Osteopathic Medical Association during Dr. Brittingham's term as president. Sally was also a very proud member of the Lower Valley Nouvella Club and always would joke about how she had "finally become a lady" always calling them with a smile "the ladies I lunch with". Through Nouvella, Sally worked on providing scholarships, community programs, the funding of the Lower Valley Pathway, as well as many other activities. Sally was also well known for her work within the schools and was responsible for helping to establish the volunteer program for the Sunnyside School District.
Sally was a parishioner at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, where both of her sons were baptized and received their first communion. In the past, Sally was actively involved in fundraising and improvement efforts and was responsible for helping to establish the church's annual Mayfest.
Sally will probably best be remembered by all who knew her as someone with an open and very giving heart, an outgoing, talkative and fun personality, her impeccable sense of style, her phenomenal singing voice, always being the consummate hostess, her outstanding cooking and always dedicated to helping anyone in need. Sally would do anything to help a friend or neighbor, a loyal wife and partner and a truly loving, fiercely protective and dedicated mother to her boys. She was an avid investor and would read the Wall Street Journal every day, spending countless hours watching Bloomberg and CNBC. Sally loved to play the slot machines whenever she could, music, movies, dancing, travelling, Mexican food, would read a romance novel a day and enjoyed life as much as possible. She had just recently attended her 50th high school reunion in Sept. 2008. She left us far too soon and her loss is deeply felt by all who knew her.
Sally is survived by her sons, Robert Brittingham of Seattle and Danial Brittingham of Portland; her brother, Bill O'Neill of Jackson, Mich.; her best friend, Jenny Hicks of Sunnyside; her cousins, nieces, and nephews; and her many friends in Sunnyside and Jackson.
She was preceded in death by her parents; and five sons who died in childbirth.
Flowers are welcome or you may contribute to the Lower Valley Hospice or the American Cancer Society.
Viewing and visitation will be held Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, from 2 until 8 p.m., with a rosary to be recited at 6 p.m. at Smith Funeral Home in Sunnyside. Mass of Christian Burial will be held Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009, at noon at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Sunnyside.
Those wishing to share their memories or sign Sally's on-line memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com.
Smith Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.