Sarah Morrison

Sarah Louise Voelkel Morrison was born on February 21, 1930 in Pyongyang in what was then Japanese-occupied Korea. She was known in childhood as Sally Lou, as Sally during her adult years up until about age 50 and then as Sarah from then on. She passed away at age 93 on July 2, 2023 in Pasadena, California.

Her parents, Harold & Gertrude Voelkel, and her maternal grandparents, William & Sallie Swallen, were Presbyterian missionaries to Korea and so she spent much of her early childhood in Andong, now in South Korea, before the family had to leave Korea due to the outbreak of World War II. The family lived in different places, from Berkeley, California, to Princeton, New Jersey, to St Petersburg, Florida, to Los Angeles, where she graduated high school at Culter Academy.

She completed a bachelors degree at Wheaton College near Chicago in 1951 and then spent several years teaching in Muskegon, Michigan, and at Seoul Foreign School back in Korea before finishing a masters in education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. With plans to go to Hong Kong as a missionary teacher, she enrolled in a few classes at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey where she met Jim Morrison who was working on a theological degree.

Sarah lived in Hong Kong for five years, teaching English to 6th graders at the Heep Woh Primary School in Kowloon. She put tremendous effort into learning Cantonese, ultimately becoming fluent via the help of a tutor. She also stayed in touch with Jim and, shortly after returning stateside, they were married on November 16, 1963 in Princeton, New Jersey. They settled down in San Diego where Jim was a pastor at First Presbyterian Church. In 1965, they welcomed a son, Jamie, and in 1969 a daughter, Elaine, by which time they had moved to Los Angeles where Jim would serve first at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood (1969-1974) and Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church (1974-2003).  They lived in Woodland Hills, CA for 41 years and moved in 2010 to Monte Vista Grove Homes in Pasadena where she passed away.

As a pastor’s wife, Sarah taught Sunday School, organized women’s fellowship groups and raised her two children, while also teaching English as a Second Language in the public schools. She volunteered in the elementary school as a reading tutor, was a Girl Scout leader and helped with Boy Scouts and soccer.  Sarah enjoyed entertaining friends and family and hosted many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners always including those who didn't have a place to go. 

In the 1980s, she began studies toward a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, completing it in 1989. With her children grown, she then served on the staffs of churches in central Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Newhall, Simi Valley and Brentwood. She also made many summertime mission trips to teach English in various locations in China, Mongolia, and Kyrgyzstan.

At age 73, Sarah traveled to South Africa to welcome her first grandchild, Nate, and then again in 2004 when Josh arrived. She and Jim made many trips to Spokane, Washington, to be with these grandsons and their granddaughters, Corrie and Kaitlin. After Jim's death she continued her passion for travel and took the family on memorable vacations to Idaho, Kauai (to celebrate her 90th) and Encinitas.  

Sarah is survived by son and daughter-in-law, Jamie & Amy Morrison of Spokane, Washington, daughter Elaine Morrison of Los Angeles, grandchildren Nate, Josh, Corrie and Kaitlin Morrison of Spokane, as well as brother and sister-in-law Jack & Mary Anne Voelkel of Tucson, Arizona, and brother Hal Voelkel, of Portland, Oregon.  She is interred at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Celebration of Life Service:

Saturday, August 19th, 2023

2:00 PM PST

Monte Vista Grove Homes

Marwick Place Auditorium

2889 San Pasqual Street

Pasadena CA 91107

Enter C driveway, turn right at the first stop sign, go through the second stop sign.  Marwick Place is on the left.

There is street parking and limited parking on campus.

The service will also be available on livestream via this link.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to:

African Enterprise

PO Box 28190
Spokane, WA 99228

2 comments

I never knew Sarah (or Sally as her Mom and Dad called her). But I know from reading her obituary that the Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She was the daughter of two saints, Harold and Gertrude Voelkel. . From the time my husband, Paul, and I arrived in Korea in
1962 the Vorlkels took us under their wings, advising, coaching, including us as guests for delicious meals at their home even though we were several decades younger. What giants in the faith they were! We knew of their love for and adoration of their Dsughter, Sally, as they often spoke lovingly of her. We are lifting up prayers for her remaining family. Commissioner Kay Rader, The Salvation Army.

Kay Rader July 12, 2023

I met Sara as her wellness OT at Monte Vista Grove. I had the privilege to get to know Sara in her later years of life. She was always a joy. She had the best smile, she cared for and knew just about everyone on campus. She loved to go on walks. As part of our exercise routine we would walk around the campus. She zipped around the campus with her rollable walker, sunglasses, and sun hat. These were the best moments with her. She loved to look at the flowers, the trees, and was just so grateful for life. Her energy and positivity gave me life. The lens she viewed life with was filled with genuine love and excitement. Sara always spoke highly about her family. She always was so proud of her son and daughter. I knew her love for Jim was so special. I’m grateful to have had the privilege to have met Sara.

Liz July 09, 2023

Leave a comment