Alaska Girl Scout pioneer, Sarah Hall Eliassen, leaves legacy of empowerment and education
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 5:28 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2023 at 10:00 PM AKDT
Sarah Eliassen of Eagle River passed away on July 3, 2023, at the age of 98. She had her funeral Sunday, July 30, at the United Methodist Church of Chugiak. Sarah was a ‘Pioneer’ Girl Scout who came from Georgia and Alabama to Alaska in 1957 to be the executive director of the Susitna Girl Scout Council (now the Girl Scouts of Alaska). In 1958, she became Director of the Togowoods Camp. Sarah met her husband, Bob, when the float plane she was on landed on Three Mile Lake. Bob was a homesteader there and went to check out the rare visitor to his area — little did he know he was about to meet his future wife.
After becoming the first camp director at Togowoods in 1958, Sarah and Bob were instrumental in building the camp and supporting its development over the years. Sarah took a break from her career to raise her children, Martha Lynn and Charlie. She returned to teaching at Eagle River Elementary School in the early 1970s, and later moved to the brand new Homestead Elementary School, where she continued teaching until the mid-1980s.
Girl Scouting remained a focus for Sarah throughout her life. She joined at age 10, and even when she moved into her teaching career, continued to volunteer to help with Togowoods and other projects, including a troop for her granddaughters. “Outside of family and religion, being a Girl Scout is the most important thing in my life. Not a day passes that I’m not aware I’m a Girl Scout. You have the Ten Commandments and the Girl Scout Law,” she said. “With those two guiding you, you cannot go wrong.” Sarah was a tireless advocate for young people — those she worked with as a Girl Scout leader and those she taught. She also rallied her neighborhood to save designated park land from illegal development. The little neighborhood park is now named in honor of the Eliassen family. In October 2020, Sarah was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.
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