Ms. Sara Jo Greever Bardsley
Ms. Sara Jo Greever Bardsley
Sara Jo Greever Bardsley, 83 of Fall Branch, a native of Tazewell, VA, and daughter of J. J. Greever and Mamie Wilder, entered the Life Triumphant on April 28, 2013.She is survived by her husband of 60 years, the Rev. John W. Bardsley; their two children: Donna Bardsley of Kingsport, TN; John Bardsley, and wife Gina of Anchorage, AK; one grandson, Alexander Bardsley of Anchorage, AK; her niece Debbie Bates and her family of Wise, VA; her Godchild, Morgan Phillips of Johnson City, TN; her “Kingsport” daughter, Krystal Tignor; her “Long Island” son, Dr. Bobby Leibold; special granddog, Hope, and a host of close friends.
The Lord “laid his hands on” Sara Jo Greever the day she was born. As soon as she could, she walked alone to the Main Street United Methodist Church, accepted Christ in her home church, and committed her life to “full-time Christian service.” Her high school annual says that her goal was to become a church secretary. After high school, she graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan College, and Emory and Henry College. She did graduate work at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Her real goal in life was to marry a Methodist minister and become a mother. She did both. Prior to marrying Dr. John W. Bardsley of Appalachia, VA, she was director of Christian Education at the First United Methodist Church in Martinsville, VA, and the Magnolia Avenue United Methodist Church in Knoxville, TN.
Donna and Johnny were born when John and she served their first church, Grace United Methodist Church St. Albans, Queens Borough, NY. Active in the church, she was a member of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, a church school teacher, leader in children’s worship, writer of children’s sermons, lay speaker, and volunteered as a lay hospital chaplain.
Sara Jo was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease when she was 26 years old, married only two years, and it has been said that she raised her children “from bed to couch.” Donna and Johnny learned to clean house and cook at a very early age!
She was a founder and one of the first patients at the Smithtown Parkinson’s Disease Therapy Center sponsored by the Smithtown, NY, United Methodist Church. It continues to offer “help and hope” to Parkinson Disease patients.
Sara Jo developed TMJ long before it was recognized and was one of the first experimental Botox patients.
Sara Jo once said, “I have been sick most of my married life!” but it never stopped her from being active in the local church or the community and becoming a leader in children’s worship. Her life’s motto was based on her favorite verse of Scripture: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
- Sara Jo contributed articles to several magazines and journals. Her autobiography is A Song in My Heart.
- Tennessee Wesleyan College presented her with the Neal Ensminger Distinguished Alumnus Award. Emory and Henry College recognized her work with those having a handicapping condition with the William and Martha DeFriece Humanitarian Award.
- Geneva Theological College presented her with a Doctor of Humane Letters because of her work with children and her witness as a pastor’s wife.
- The Smithtown Parkinson’s Disease Therapy Center designated her, the Humanitarian of the Year.
- Temple Beth Sholom (Smithtown, NY) held a special Sabbath service in her honor as a Woman of Valor. She was presented with a framed poem written for her by a Temple member. Rabbi Dr. Elliott Spar said that “Sara Jo is a rare human being.”
- The stained glass Children’s Window in the Smithtown, NY, United Methodist Church was dedicated to her by the artist, Roy Cerank.
- She was the first person with a handicapping condition to become a member of the Suffolk County, NY, Board of Health and was recognized for her contribution to the Board of Health and Suffolk County at the end of her term.
- Sara Jo was invited to speak at a morning worship session by the Committee on Handicapping Conditions of The United Methodist Church’s New York Annual Conference. She was in such pain that, had it not been taped, she would not have seen the enthusiastic positive response to her message. Her witness, from one with a handicapping condition, was used at church meetings across the nation.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be sent to the Sara Jo and John Bardsley Scholarship Fund of Tennessee Wesleyan College, 204 East College Street, Athens, TN 37303, the Endowment Fund of First Broad Street United Methodist Church, 100 East Church Circle, Kingsport, TN 37660, or Main Street United Methodist Church, 315 East Main Street, Tazewell, VA, 24651-2819.