Antique Vintage 04
Official Obituary of

Sarah W. Harkness

May 28, 1938 ~ February 21, 2024 (age 85) 85 Years Old

Sarah Harkness Obituary

EPSOM – Sarah Wheeler Harkness, 85, of Epsom, NH passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 surrounded by her family and under the excellent care of the nursing staff at Concord Hospital. Sarah was born in Baltimore, MD on May 28, 1938, the daughter of Stafford Wheeler and Anne (Bolling) Clark.

Sarah’s father died in WW II when she was six years old. She and her brother were raised by their single mother and spent many happy days with their maternal grandparents in Greenwich, CT and their paternal grandparents in Adamsville, RI and neighboring Westport, MA.  Her mother moved the family to Japan for a work opportunity when Sarah was sixteen and she also spent time abroad in Sweden as an exchange student. These formative experiences ingrained a love of travel and a deep curiosity about other cultures.

Sarah attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, MA and later she received a MFA from the University of Indiana where she focused on weaving and textile arts. Sarah married Richard Harkness in 1960 and they eventually moved to Epsom, NH to raise their family, operate a small farm, and pursue careers as artisans (glass blowing and weaving).

In the mid 1980’s, Sarah moved to Little Compton, RI and got remarried to John Nelson. She opened Blue Flag Antiques and became very active in the antiques business community. An excellent cook, she fed six teenagers when the Harkness and Nelson children were home in summer. Her antique store and her kitchen were almost one and the same. Her stove of choice was a vintage model from the 1920s, and she ground coffee every morning with a hand cranked device mounted to the wall.

Sarah was a voracious reader and had an incredible memory for detail. She enjoyed traveling, collecting books, art, and taking photographs, although she was shy about being on the other side of the camera. She did not enjoy modern technology and much preferred pen and paper for communicating with her large network of friends and family. Staying in touch with old friends and acquaintances from all points in her life was very important to her and she continued to do so until her last days, dictating letters to be mailed on her behalf. If you received New York Times clippings that reminded Sarah of you and your interests, you knew you were loved.

For the last 15 years of her life, Sarah returned to Epsom, NH and moved into the farmhouse where her mother and stepfather, Samuel Clark, had spent summers since the 1950s. She held a strong emotional connection to the yellow house with two red barns on Sanborn Hill and was clear in her desire to live out her days there. She would not have been able to fulfill this wish without the dedicated and loving assistance of Wanda Brown of Loudon.

Even when Sarah was no longer physically mobile, she had an uncanny awareness of where items were located in the house and what needed to be fixed on the property. She oversaw many building repairs from her bedroom and guided the process of placing a conservation easement on the property.

Sarah also enjoyed sharing her interest in art and her passion for literacy. She volunteered to teach art in an elementary school in Fall River, MA, tutored English language learners in the Concord, NH area, and several times traveled to the southwest U.S. to volunteer in elementary schools on Native American reservations. A previous member of the Epsom School Board, she was also a supporter of the Pittsfield Historical Society and the Epsom Library.

Besides her parents, Sarah was predeceased by her brother, Philip Wheeler and her step siblings Geoffrey Clark and Katherine Clark. Sarah is survived by her children Ethan Harkness and his wife, Lu of New York City; Seth Harkness and his wife, Rachael of Portland, ME; and Lissa Knauss and her husband Grant of Middlesex, VT, and her six grandchildren, Adrian, Felix, Lucy, and August Harkness and Anna and Avery Knauss and Sarah’s step-siblings, Peter, Tom and Sam Clark.

Sarah’s family plans a private memorial service in the spring. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made in memory of Sarah to Epsom Public Library or Bear Paw Regional Greenway.Assisting the family with arrangements is The Roan Family Funeral Home of Pembroke. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit

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