September 24, 1945 – December 24, 2021
Sara Jane MacDwyer, 76, of Kensington, CA, passed away December 24, 2021. She was born in New York with her twin sister, Mary Jane, to Catherine (Balcom) and Bernard MacDwyer. Beloved wife of the late Alfred Fredstrom, she is survived by her stepchildren Todd Fredstrom, Shon Fredstrom, Karl (Jenn) Fredstrom, Cassy (Jason) Duncan, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; cousins Robin Wood, Ania Rosinski, John Rosinski, Ronald (Cindy) Wood, Bernard (Shirley) Rethore, niece and nephew Jeanine and Brian Fritz and many other relatives and friends who loved her dearly.
Sara’s family moved to California when the twins were very young and lived in San Mateo, where they met Daryl (Dingy) Daigle. After they moved to Menlo Park, the two families lived near each other and attended grade school together. When Sara’s mother passed away, Mom and Pop Daigle took the twins under their wings and loved them as part of their own family. The relationship between Sara Jane, Mary Jane and all of the Daigle family lasted throughout their lives. Sara continued attending the annual family reunions right up to the present.
After graduating from Notre Dame High School in Belmont in 1963, Sara, along with Mary Jane, entered the convent with the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. She has kept in regular contact with many of the friends she made during her five years there.
Sara received her Juris Doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1983. Graduating in the top of her class, Sara was a member of Law Review and passed the July 1983 California Bar Exam. She later earned the Master Certificate specializing in Family Law. For almost forty years Sara helped many families through her Family Law and Mediation practice. Passionate about her work, she was a fierce advocate for the rights of others, especially women and children. She devoted many hours of pro bono work. She took great pride in her work, was an excellent writer and felt it important to support her community.
Sara loved creating and maintaining her beautiful garden, listening to music and attending the opera, concerts and theatre. She enjoyed gathering people together in her home, often hosting garden parties. Sara and Mary Jane were members of the same book club. Throughout her thirty years of membership, Sara prided herself on being prepared for meaningful discussion with her treasured friends. Everyone was always eager to hear what Sara had to say. One of her greatest pleasures was traveling with family and friends. She has visited many countries but especially enjoyed taking family trips with the Fredstroms and visiting her cousins Robin, Ania and John in Pennsylvania and New Jersey where she would frolic on the Jersey Shore beach and jump the waves in the Atlantic Ocean. With her beloved Alfred, she visited Italy and enjoyed wonderful cruises with cousins Bernard and Shirley Michels-Rethore.
In 2013 Sara and her dear friend, Eliza, were pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, a nine hundred year old pilgrimage route across Spain. She joined Eliza for the last one hundred miles of the journey. Despite the delay of her luggage arriving, the terrible heat, having to duct tape her boots because they fell apart and losing a tooth veneer, she was proud of this great accomplishment. This was a woman who loved a challenge.
Sara loved traditions like the annual Thanksgiving reunion of forty five plus attendees with the Murray and Clinton families celebrated at St. Peter’s Church in Pacifica. The day after Thanksgiving a group of them would walk the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.
The most endearing qualities of Sara were her devotion to her friends and family, her strength, generous heart, and kind soul. She was an incredible listener who engaged in conversations that left one feeling uplifted and valued. Her love made you a better person. She taught us how to forgive, accept people for who they are and to love unconditionally. Only a month ago before Sara passed she told her dear friend, Deirdre, that her goal was “above all, to live a meaningful life”. She achieved her goal.
Sara had a special bond with her twin sister, Mary Jane. They brought great joy to anyone who was in their company. They were two extraordinary women who became extremely successful despite a very difficult childhood. Mary Jane passed away twenty four years ago and joined her parents on Christmas Eve. Our dear Sara now shares that anniversary with sweet Mary Jane.
When The Reverend Michael Fitzpatrick, SJ, a long time family friend, visited Sara in the hospital, Sara reflected on the story of “It’s a Wonderful Life” when the angel Clarence finally earned his wings after helping George find the meaning of life. Sara quoted, “Whenever you hear a bell ring, an angel has earned her wings”. Our dear Sara, our hearts will be ringing eternally because you have always been and will forever be our angel.
The family requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society.
No funeral or service is immediately planned. The family will notify loved ones when a celebration of life is scheduled.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Dec. 30, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2022.