Sally Joan (Lowry) Corliss thumbnail

Sally Joan Corliss

June 11, 1932 - July 9, 2021

Sally Joan (Lowry) Corliss died at the age of 89 on July 9, 2021.


Sally was born in Santa Barbara, California and grew up in Berkeley, where she attended high school. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on early childhood development from the University of California at Berkeley. Early in her career, she worked at Agnews State Mental Hospital in Santa Clara and at an early childhood development program in San Diego. She had a private therapy practice in Corvallis, Oregon in the 1970s.


Sally sustained many close friendships throughout her lifetime, including one dating back to her time at Berkeley. After moving to Corvallis, she was active in the women’s rights movement. She marched with her children in support of the Equal Rights Amendment and was a founding member of a local feminist support group with nine other women. An early devotee to healthy eating, Sally volunteered at the First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op in Corvallis. She liked to pick locally grown fruit and made wonderful meals that often featured creative green salads for her family.


Sally nurtured a love of reading in her three children. When they were young, she was often willing to drop whatever she was doing to read to them. She belonged to the same book club for more than 25 years and remained an avid reader until the day she died.


Sally was curious, empathetic, and intuitive. She was a kind and caring listener and encouraged people to think deeply about their own and other’s feelings. She loved swimming, eating lobster with butter, walking on the beach, doing tai chi, and caring for and playing with her four grandchildren.


While living in Portland in the second half of her life, Sally joined a sangha and embraced the Zen Buddhist teachings of Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hahn, whom she often quoted. In recent years, she shared the sentiments expressed in the following quote (based on the Buddha’s Five Remembrances) with her family, friends, and sometimes even people she had just met.


Breathing in and out, I am aware of the fact that I am of the nature to die; I cannot escape dying. I am of the nature to grow old; I cannot escape old age. I am of the nature to get sick. Because I have a body, I cannot avoid sickness. Everything I cherish, treasure, and cling to today, I will have to abandon one day. The only thing I can carry with me is the fruit of my own action. I cannot bring along with me anything else except the fruit of my actions in terms of thought, speech, and bodily acts.


She is survived by her three children, Julie Corliss of Silver Spring, Maryland; Liana Corliss of Portland, Oregon; and Donovan Corliss, of San Francisco, California (from her marriage to Jack Corliss, her former husband) and their families.


A memorial service will be held at a date yet to be determined. To honor Sally, please consider a donation to SMART Reading.


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