Sarah “Sally” Burkstaller, 86, of Ruidoso, NM passed away at her home September 10. She was the first of two children born to James Edward Stringer and Thelma Yolanda Stringer. As part of a mobile military family, her youth was spent in St. Louis and Neosho, MO with high school in Central City, NE, Panhandle, TX and Boulder City, NV. Sally was an accomplished classical pianist, having graduated from a conservatory in Grand Island, Nebraska. She made lasting, cherished friendships in each of these hometowns and lovingly maintained them throughout her life.
Sally enjoyed university days in Albuquerque at UNM where she participated in many school activities, student government, Mortar Board and Pi Beta Phi. She juggled three jobs at a time to help pay for college. This included summers as a life guard at Lake Meade, NV, driving a Model A Ford Roadster across the hot desert from Las Vegas daily. At UNM she met Steve Burkstaller and hurriedly graduated (BA in History/English with honors) in 3.5 years so they could get married. She wanted to see Europe as a free spirit before settling into married life, so she contracted with a NY tour company to put together a tour for UNM and sold enough participants on campus that she traveled gratis. The trip was a life changing experience for her.
The couple lived in Oregon while Steve completed his Optometric training and then settled in Roswell, NM to open his practice. Sally enjoyed teaching English Literature at NMMI and providing vision therapy to patients of Steve’s practice who had visually–related learning disabilities. Her entrepreneurial skills led her to return to an earlier love – travel. She took over a small, fledgling business which she grew into a multi-office travel agency, becoming the General Partner / Owner of Hello World! Travel. After “retiring” she was a respected, successful real estate agent in Ruidoso.
Sally’s bubbling, happy, infectious enthusiasm and charisma facilitated her efforts on many worthy causes over the years. Highlights of her accomplishments include: Founding President – Roswell Symphony Guild 1961; Democratic Party Chairwoman and Delegate National Democratic Convention 1968; Roswell Library Board 1962-78; Co-chair of the Roswell Library Board’s successful campaign to build the new library 1978; Ghost Ranch Foundation Board 1975-84; NM Arts Commission 1971-83; Roswell Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors 1980-86; Director – First Interstate Bank 1982-91; VP and founding director Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau; Founding President – Operation Ft. Stanton (later Ft. Stanton Inc. 1996-2006) – established to create a new State Monument.
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Above all else Sally loved her children, Lisa and Ross. When she wasn’t doting on her children, she enjoyed traveling with old friends, playing bridge and Mexican Train, volunteering for the greater good, discussing how to make the world a better place, adored her two Bichon pups, reveled in the beauty of Lincoln County and generally basked in the convivial warmth of her many, many friends and neighbors.
Sally was predeceased by her former husband Steve, her parents and many close friends. She is survived by her children, Ross Burkstaller (Katie) and Lisa Burkstaller (Andrew Aagaard), both of Albuquerque, NM and her brother Bill Stringer of Fairbanks, AK.
Due to current conditions and restrictions placed on gatherings, a memorial for Sally has been delayed indefinitely. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lincoln County Humane Society Building Fund, Fort Stanton, Inc., Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts or campaign funds of progressive candidates in this election cycle.