This blog is dedicated to Sara; for those who know and love her to visit, leave words of encouragement for her family, and to recall and remember what she was and what she stood for. Please leave a comment if you have one. Thank you for visiting Sara's blog!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alan Gassman Visits with the Students

Here are some pictures from when Alan visited the students in the program:

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Sara Faye Wolf Gassman was born in Ft. Worth, Texas on March 24, 1936. Her Jewish name was Sur Faye.

She was the third child and only daughter of Henry and Bertha Wolf. Henry, born February 15, 1894, was a beef processing house manager at Swift & Company in Fort Worth, Texas as well as a volunteer Colt 45 carrying Special Deputy Sheriff who died when Sara was 12 years old on September 28, 1948. Her mother Bertha was born January 31, 1901 in Dallas, Texas.

Sara's maternal grandfather, Rubin Robinson, was a Polish immigrant, who was born in 1867 and married his wife, Sara "Fannie" Shapiro Robinson, while they were both still young. When they immigrated to the United States in 1887 they lived in New York for a short while, had their first child, and then moved to Dallas, Texas, where they had six other children. He was one of the original founders of the Dallas, Texas Congregation Tiferet Israel. He was also one of the fourteen founding fathers of the Dallas Jewish Free Loan Association in the 1800's, both of which still exist today. He made a living as a peddler of goods and often sold his goods from a push cart on credit. He was a very religious man. Due to an accident, Rubin Robinson lived with Sara and her family when she was a young adult and he would often tell them stories about how he sold mattresses on the streets of New York. Rubin Robinson passed away in the early 1940's and Fannie died on August 23, 1926.

Sara's paternal grandfather; Charles Wolf was a Russian immigrant who was married to Rosa Wolf. Charles Wolf passed away in 1946 when Sara was 10 years old.

Sara's mother Bertha was a dedicated homemaker who was always very active in the Fort Worth Jewish social community. Four years after losing her husband she opened a restaurant to support herself and her 3 children in rural Tarrant County, Texas. Sara was 16 at the time. Tarrant County was horse country and Sara had her own horse named Sugar. She also slept with a gun under her pillow at times.

She had two older brothers, Norman, who was 6 years older than Sara and born December 23, 1930, and Donald, who was 8 years older and born June 14, 1928. She and her brothers took piano lessons at a young age, and although Norman and Donald did not continue lessons, Donald became a self taught professional pianist and singer, and still plays piano and sings professionally at age 79 in Fort Worth. Sara continued lessons and became a music teacher at the age of 13 when the local mailman heard her play the piano and asked her to teach him how to play . She continued teaching piano until February of this year, some 56 years later.

Norman went on to marry Alice Coleman in June of 1950 and they have three children and several grandchildren.

Sara was very close to her brother Donald. They both share a love of music and would remain close throughout their lives. Donald often spent vacations with Sara and Marvin in Orlando.

Until her death Bertha was very close to Sara, Marvin, and their children. Sara and Marvin helped Bertha in many ways, and she visited them often. Donald and his children lived with Bertha for many years. Bertha was a wonderful cook and grandmother. We have fond memories of her playing 20 bingo cards at a time, making chopped liver, coogle, blintzes, and taking kosher pickles from the table at Ronnie's Delicatessen home hidden in her purse. We remember Bertha in her 80's dancing to "Another One Bites the Dust" at Alan and Marcia's wedding. No one was as loving of all people as Bertha Wolf. We hope that Sara is with Bertha now.

Sara also loved excitement, whether it came through music, horseback riding during her early years, or otherwise. This included drag racing her 1953 Super 88 Oldsmobile in Fort Worth. She fondly spoke of holding down the gas and break at the same time in her "automatic" until she would release the break and head towards the finish line.

In the spring of 1954, at the age of 18, Sara met her future husband Marvin, a New Yorker in the Army who was based at Walters Air Force Base in Texas during the Korean War. They met at a Purim Dance at Congregation Ahvath Shalom. Not long after that they began dating and were married some 51 years ago in January of 1957. Sara in her own words described Marvin as "handsome, intelligent and could and would speak on any subject under the universe."

Marvin was stationed at Walters Air Force Base while in the United States Army through 1955. Marvin and Sara corresponded for about a year after he was honorably discharged and had moved back to New York. In 1956 they began dating and a year later they were married. Before Marvin was in the Army he worked as a civilian for the United States Navy, a job that he returned to after being discharged from the Army.

In 1959 they had their first child, Alan, and soon after moved from Texas to Alabama where Marvin took a job in the aviation/aerospace industry designing electronic test equipment, cockpits, etc. Later Marvin took a job in Florida at Martin Marietta and the family moved to the Orlando area. Their second child Robert (Bob) was born in 1963.

In 1965 while pregnant with their third son, Randy, the Gassman's moved to Maitland where Sara and Marvin set roots and raised their family in the house where their residence remains to this day.

Each morning after Marvin retired, Sara and Marvin would have coffee together and read the newspaper. Marvin would explain to Sara all of the nation's most critical affairs, and Sara would tell Marvin all about the nation's most popular movies and plays. Every morning Sara also enjoyed doing the newspaper crossword puzzle. She also loved her Friday dinners with close friends Pattie Cramer, Jo Grushka and Dee Reardon.

Sara was an avid reader and would typically read three or more books at a time. She enjoyed fiction the most, and James Patterson was her recent favorite author. She also enjoyed reading books by Jane Austen illustrating her diverse reading interests. She would buy the latest books as soon as they were available. She enjoyed discussing books and movies at the weekly dinners with her friends.

Sara loved humor of all kinds, and was able to look and laugh at our world. Her sarcastic wit was almost legendary. The last movie we watched with her in the hospital was the Woody Allen film, Take The Money and Run. She laughed at every joke and shared his outlook on life being a comedy of circumstances.

Sara, with her talent and love for music, taught piano in every city where she resided. She became a music teacher at Park Maitland School in the 1960's, and worked closely with the school founder and close friend, Nell Cohen, to develop a comprehensive music program at the school. Sara taught both music and drama for Park Maitland. Nell had been Alan's first grade teacher before opening Park Maitland School, and Nell and Sara's mother Bertha had a very close and special relationship. Bertha would give Nell very special gifts of family heirlooms that Nell would later secretly "give back to Sara" to not offend Bertha or take advantage of her generosity.

The music program at Park Maitland surprised many local music show lovers by producing full productions of Broadway shows with multiple sets and props, which were rewritten and scored by Sara and other teachers and musicians for the Park Maitland elementary school students. These shows were performed at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre and included Oliver, Annie Get Your Gun, and Fiddler on the Roof. These performances were so admired throughout the community that The Florida Symphony approached Sara about a collaborative program and accompanied one of Park Maitland's encore performances of Oliver.

In addition to privately giving music instruction and teaching at Park Maitland Sara also choreographed the Russian Bottle Dance from Fiddler on the Roof for the dancers in the Winter Park High School Marching Band.

Her love for children and music was her true calling, and she had the unique ability to help children recognize and develop their musical abilities and confidence. Through Park Maitland School, private teaching, and also later teaching music at Seminole Community College she touched thousands of lives. Her students have gone on to star in television and Broadway shows including Mandy Moore, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Elijah Wood, but more importantly to enjoy a love for music, and the confidence that comes from accomplishing artistic success at an early age. In the past year she was teaching the children of former students and greatly enjoyed these continuing relationships and the unique multi-step lesson process for teaching that she developed.

Her personal interaction with students went well beyond just teaching music. For many of her students she became a confidant, mentor, and a lifelong friend. It was clear that many of her students loved her very much . Many students confided their deepest secrets to her and depended upon her for valuable advice and guidance as well as encouragement on their life journey.

Sara was involved in several local, state and national professional music groups including Central Florida Music Teachers Association, Florida State Music Teachers Association, National Music Teachers Association, and Honors Recitals. Her granddaughter Lindsay, age 8, is an accomplished piano player, and recently was invited to play at a University of Central Florida sponsored event.

Sara's favorite performer and song writer by far was Elton John, who she "discovered" in the late 1980's. Sara had great seats to see Elton perform as a solo unaccompanied act at Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios Orlando just a few years ago. Her devotion to his music and love of his performances was unwavering. Her favorite Elton John song was "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," the lyrics of which are reproduced under Sara and Marvin’s wedding picture.

Sara was also an accomplished poet and her poem Pearls won The Florida Review Editors' Prize at the University of Central Florida. She very much enjoyed reciting this poem at an awards ceremony sponsored by the University. "Pearls"was about a set of pearls that Marvin gave Sara early on in their marriage and her appreciation of the pearls years later.

She touched so many people's lives through her talent and love of music and by exposing children to all types of music. No matter her job or other commitments she continued to teach private piano both to help support her family and because she loved it.

Her love for children was a real blessing to her brother Donald who suddenly found himself a bachelor/single parent with two children aged 10 and 8. The boys' mother was nowhere to be found for many years. Beginning in 1961 Donald's children, Ricky and Henry, would go and stay with the Gassman family every summer for many years. During that time they learned the value of having a mom who was such a positive influence in their lives. They love Sara like a mother to this day and will never forget her devotion and love. They have provided unlimited love and support for the family in many ways over the years, and especially during the past few months and days.

Henry is married to Rajé and Ricky is married to Ashley. Sara loved Henry and Ricky's wives as well as Ricky and Ashley's children." Rajé and Ashley both offered tremendous help and support, including coming to Maitland to help her during her illness.

Though Sara was a working mom, she was an amazing mother to her three boys who, under her guidance, were shown the value of love, family and education. With her encouragement all of her sons, and her nephew Ricky earned college degrees. Rick Wolf was the first college graduate in Wolf family history, and Henry became an accomplished chess player and is a hospital computer consultant.

In addition to the above, Sara taught her sons how to play football and baseball, how to identify and pursue their talents and loves, and how to get along with each other and with others. She also taught writing skills to her sons, and she helped them write their high school papers. (She loved her IBM Selectric, and later became well-versed in Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect.) She provided them with unlimited support and love during their formative years and always encouraged them to pursue unlimited education and professional development.

Sara was an avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and rooted them on to success whenever feasible. She was a little moody and very critical, not to mention cranky, when the Cowboys didn't make the grade. Nevertheless, she never wavered in her support of the Cowboys or anything else uniquely Texan, including LBJ, and hickory smoked brisket.

Alan, Bob, Randy, Henry, and Ricky were all Bar Mitvahed in the Jewish faith, which was very important to Sara. Sara was a member of Congregation Ohev Shalom at the time of her passing. The family thanks Rabbi Siegal of the Jewish Family Services of Central Florida for the time he has spent with Sara, Marvin, and the family during the past trying days.

In the late 1970's Sara and Marvin established a retail jewelry business and designed and sold gold jewelry and precious stones in Winter Park. They continued this business for approximately 10 years under the name Sara's Gold Nugget. Sara was a master inventory design and sales person whose customers always loved her.

Sara described her and Marvin's marriage in a speech given at their 50th anniversary party by saying "Our love has survived 50 years of happiness, unhappiness, joy, sadness, optimism and pessimism. The one subject on which we completely agree is the realization that we raised three sons who almost walk on water; that these three sons found three beautiful wives who are fantastic mothers, and that those wives (with the help of the sons who walk on water) gave us six fabulous grandchildren."

In 1981 Sara's oldest son Alan, while in law school married Marcia who became Sara's first "daughter." Sara was happy to have another woman in the family with all those boys, but her love for children was more fully satisfied when Marcia and Alan had their first child. Sara's first grandchild and female descendant, Nicole, was born in 1984 and the spoiling began. In 1988 Brent was born and her love expanded to her second grandchild. Brent was the first musical grandchild and is an accomplished guitar player and singer who she was very proud of. His first musical experiences were at the keyboard with Sara.

The family has fond memories of Nicole's Bat Mitzvah in Israel where Sara rode a camel, floated in the Dead Sea, rode a boat across the Sea of Galilee and met new friends in Jerusalem who invited the family to their home. Sara also climbed Messada with a Rabbi there only to find out that coincidentally the family's prior Rabbi (Larry Halpern) who had Bar Mitzvahed Alan was on Messada visiting that same day!

Sara also visited London, Paris and Amsterdam and was always open to enjoying new things and experiences. Sara also loved visiting New York City, and knew how to navigate the Diamond District, China Town, 5th Avenue, and of course Broadway.

Sara's second son, Bob, married Eve in 1996, and they had their first child in 1999. Another girl in the family; Lindsay was born and the spoiling continued. When Lindsay was 3 years old Sara began influencing the piano in her and now at the age of 8 she and her brother, Blake (age 6) are competition pianists with no stage fright whatsoever. Blake and his twin brother Joel, Bob and Eve's second and third children, were born in 2001.

Sara's youngest son, Randy, married his wife Jeanie in 1998, and they had their son Evan in 1999. Sara and Marvin loved the fact that Jeanie was another "southern girl." Evan also learned how to play the piano from his grandmother, and also plays little league baseball for the Pirates in Tampa. Evan loved to go to museums with his grandmother and spending time with her.

Marvin was a devoted husband for 51 years. Marvin worked for NASA at Kennedy Space Center from 1965 to 2003 as a management engineer, and received his MBA from Rollins College in 1964. Marvin always supported Sara's teaching and entrepreneurial endeavors, and they were inseparable for their entire marriage.

Marvin and Sara were big fans of the space program. They sent original limited edition launch envelopes and stamps from the NASA post office for every manned launch to family and friends, and saw launches of Gemini, Apollo and shuttle rockets that Marvin had involvement with. Sara met astronauts and saw Apollo lift offs from the VIP seats where Johnny Carson, Lyndon Johnson, and many other national celebrities and leaders congregated. The first U.S. Apollo mission was to be called Apollo 1. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were the astronauts for this mission. The three men died, however, in a fire inside their command module during a pre-flight test at a launch pad in Florida.

The family learned of the death of the Apollo 1 astronauts while in Temple services on Friday, January 27, 1967, but has never given up hope that the space program will be an important path towards mankind's progress here on earth and in our galaxy.

In February of 2008 Sara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and immediately entered into a study at MD Anderson Orlando. She fought the disease with all of her might, and unfortunately did not survive it. The family thanks MD Anderson Orlando, and in particular Kristine Moore, RN, Dr. Kayaleh, Hitseh Patel, MD, Gary Kalser, MD and K. B. Lee, DO for spending endless time and making dedicated efforts every step of the way to help Sara's path be as good as it could be. What they did was far beyond what anyone would expect from the most caring and generous of professionals, and we were blessed to have their support and to know that everything possible was done for her. Let us all pray and work for a cure to this terrible killer of man and spirit.

The family also thanks the many lifelong friends who came to Sara and Marvin's aid in this time of need, including Sunnie Lichtenstein, Pattie Cramer, Jo Grushka, Rick, Ashley and Leah Wolf, Henry and Rick Wolf, Dr. and Mrs. Gary Kalser, the Eckbert family, and with a special thanks to Michelle Schumacher for spending over 100 hours with Sara and the family, at our request, during Sara's final hospitalization. Michelle was much like a daughter to Sara and a true devoted friend in time of need to make sure that she was never alone and had someone that she could talk to. There are many others who made significant contributions to Sara's care and support during the past few weeks, and we thank all of you sincerely.

The presence and support of caring and giving people helps to confirm that the Universe is a benevolent and loving place during trying times like these.

As a tribute to Sara we have formed the Sara Gassman Charitable Trust as a not-for-profit Florida trust for the purpose of providing repetitive and positive one-on-one 30 minute piano lessons for elementary school age students who are learning impaired, have cancer and/or cannot afford lessons. Donors will receive a quarterly summary of lessons given in their honor.

Donations to the Sara Gassman Charitable Foundation can be sent care of Alan Gassman, 1245 Court Street, Suite 104, Clearwater, Florida 33756. 100% of donations made will be paid as compensation to selected piano teachers who agree to also donate occasional lessons for these needy children. Katherine D. Ladner is the Executive Secretary for the Foundation and can be reached at 727 442-1200 Extension 325 or by e-mail at Donors can select a category and age of student, and receive periodic reports from the teacher and the children's parent or parents.

The family requests that our friends and family consider support of a worthy charity in honor of Sara in lieu of flowers, whether this be the above foundation or another charitable organization.

Something About the Way You Look Tonight
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

There was a time
I was everything and nothing all in one
When you found me
I was feeling like a cloud across the sun
I need to tell you
How you light up every second of the day
But in the moonlight
You just shine like a beacon on the bay
And I can't explain
But it's something about the way you look tonight
Takes my breath away
It's that feeling I get about you, deep inside
And I can't describe
But it's something about the way you look tonight
Takes my breath away
The way you look tonight
With a smile
You pull the deepest secrets from my heart
In all honesty
I'm speechless and I don't know where to start

Goodbye Sara Faye
We're so glad we knew you so well
You had the grace to hold yourself
While the world around you fell
And life was like a puzzle
And love and duty was so ingrained
You mastered this, we could all tell
And you earned a revered name
And it seems as if we must live our lives
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing what to cling to
When the rain sets in
And we're so glad to have known you
Though now we grieve just like a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your love and devotion did.

Loneliness is tough
The toughest role you ever played
To have to lose everything
At the painful price you paid
And now that you're set free
We can so plainly see
That you did so much for us
We're glad you finally found the key

And it seems to us that you knew somehow
That a candle in the wind
Never knows what to cling to
When the rain sets in
And we're so glad to have known you
Before your freedom did
Your candle burned out long before
Our love and devotion did.

Goodbye Sara Faye
From the people who loved you so
Who'll always see you as more than mortal
More than just our beloved Sara Faye


Marvin and I met when I was 18. He was stationed in Texas during the Korean War. I fell in love with him because he was (and is) handsome, intelligent, and could and would speak on any subject under the universe. I had never met anyone like him and I have not to this day.

We are almost complete opposites. Marvin was brought up in Brooklyn and his real name is Maavin. I am from Fort Worth and my real name is Sur Faye.

Marvin worked for NASA for 38 years. Each morning he awoke at 5:15 a.m., dressed quietly in another room so I could sleep, kissed me good-bye and left for work by 6:15 a.m. He came home at 6:30 that night.

In 2003 Marvin retired from NASA and was home 24-7. It was an adjustment for both of us. He doubted his new purpose, but I made sure he continued to work 40 hours a week; his new employers became his wife, his children and his grandchildren. We didn’t pay well, but he gained our complete respect as an adoring husband, father and grandfather.

Last year Marvin suffered severe health problems and for the first time in our lives we realized that this strong man was not invincible. Our family came together with courage, concern and love. Today we know that this man of profound strength is also a man of utmost resilience.

Each morning Marvin and I have coffee together and read the newspaper. He explains our nation’s most critical affairs to me, and I explain our nation’s most popular movies and plays. He is concerned with world events, and I am equally as concerned with the environment of my kitchen.

After so many years of marriage we had finally learned to agree to disagree. If it rains, Marv says, “The roof will leak,” and I say “the flowers will grow.” And guess what…the flowers do grow and the roof often leaks. I have the nature of jumping into a swimming pool and then realizing there is no water. Marvin fills up the pool with water, tests it for six to eight months, and then finds another project. Thus, we have never had a swimming pool. Marvin also had no sense of color, and I have no sense of direction. Together, he is dressed properly and I found this restaurant.

Our love has survived 50 years of happiness, unhappiness, joy, sadness, optimism and pessimism. The one subject on which we completely agree is the realization that we raised three sons who almost walk on water; that these three sons found three beautiful wives who are fantastic mothers, and that those wives (with the help of the sons who walk on water) gave us six fabulous grandchildren.

I thank everyone here who is not in our immediate family for your patience, your love and your everlasting willingness to listen to me talk about my sons who walk on water, my daughters who are beautiful and my grandchildren who are fabulous.

My wish tonight is that everyone in this room will meet again, in good health for our 60th.

Article in Heritage Florida Jewish News, May 9, 2008

Sara Gassman was a lady I loved to write about. She was extremely talented as a pianist/piano teacher and also a director of Broadway shows done by gifted youngsters at Park Maitland School. Sara died Sunday, April 27. One column, in particular, caught Sara's fancy and she kept it among her important papers. It went like this: "For 17 years, the dedication behind the talented youngsters at Park Maitland School, was their director of music, Sara Gassman.”

"Sara, a talented pianist and teacher, who was a member of the Florida State Music Teacher's Association, really got the productions off the ground and flying at Park Maitland. With Sara at the musical helm, their reputation as a prestigious school for the performing arts really took hold. She and her talented students put on very professional-quality Broadway musicals each season for the entire community to enjoy. These productions were done on a grand scale, many presented at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in downtown Orlando. Sara also taught class piano to children and adults at Seminole Community College.

"Through the years she has been responsible for directing young performers onto a career path by entering them to be judged for their talent in a most important annual honors recital held at Stetson University, Deland."

"After retirement, Sara taught piano and theory in her Maitland home. She was always delighted to turn a student on to music. And, she said, "It also adds to their listening skills, coordination, and even improvement in match skills."

Sara left quite a legacy. She was loved by her husband of more than half a century, MARVIN GASSMAN, and her sons, ALAN, BOB and RANDY, their spouses and children. She will be sorely missed.

The Friend

by Sara Gassman
For Mrs. Pattie Cramer
(Adapted from "The Tree" by Joyce Kilmer)

I think that I shall never see
A better friend than you for me.

A friend who's always there to stick
Beside me through times thin and thick.

A friend who'll shop for clothes all day
Then misbehave a drop at play.

Upon whose shoulders I did lay
When all my faith had gone astray.

Who lives with Stan and all his weakness
Yet somehow treasures my uniqueness.

A friend like you was there for me
But only God could make me see.

Letter to the Gassman Family from Mary Margaret Bowen who runs Park Maitland School

Dear Marcia,
I'm so sad over losing sweet Sara, but I'm also really happy that she isn't suffering any longer. Your family has been completely amazing. I've read the blog (which, of course, brought tears with the kind talk about my mother), talked with many people who loved Sara, too, and tried to communicate with everyone connected with Park Maitland. Everyone says how lovely you all are and that Marvin has a very strong support "group" right in his own family.

I was talking to my Daddy about a week ago, before I even knew Sara was in the hospital and so near the end. He was wanting to know if he should write a note to her, or what? I suggested that he just call her, but he felt really insecure about doing that with her so ill. Then, my sister, Carolyn,and I were planning to call this week to see if we could stop by the house to see her. We had no idea that she had been in the hospital. I have a photograph of Marvin, Sara, and my mother that I wanted to give to her; it's beautiful and one of the last times they saw each other. (I'll attach it here so that all of you can see it and enjoy it.) I also have some little drawings some of the children made for her. Now, I cannot help but wonder why I didn't act upon my impulses sooner than this. Why did I stay so busy that I didn't get to see her? It just makes me question my own life and lack of time management...AND...getting my priorities in order. I missed seeing a beautiful lady that I love very much for the last time.

Please share with your family my sincerest apology for not seeing Sara. I can't help but wonder if, perhaps, this "lesson" from Sara about prioritiesand not letting work overtake my life wasn't actually sent to me straight from God. No matter what, I will always let my friendship with her and all of my memories of her make me aware of seeing the people I love before it's too late and I simply can't see them.We are going to dedicate the year-end show at the Bob Carr -- "Beauty & theBeast" this year (she would have loved it) -- to Sara. So many Park Maitland teachers, staff members, and students, past and present knew and loved her. We will always credit her with starting our fabulous tradition of the full-scale, year-end musical to cap off our school years. Mother absolutely loved musical theatre, and Sara brought it to us. Wow.

I am thinking of each one of you with love. Please give much love to Marvin. He and Sara had a beautiful marriage and such fine children! She definitely put her footprints on this earth and on many hearts. I can only imagine my mother dancing in Heaven to Sara's beautiful music.

Mary Margaret Bowen

Letter to the Gassman Family from Lori Rice

Dear Alan,

I am writing this letter to you, but my hope is that you will share it with your brothers and father. I cannot tell you how incredibly sad I was to read about your mother's passing. I just want to share with you how important a role she played in my life.

I took piano lessons from her beginning at age 6 and continuing through age 18. The weekly visits to your home and lesson with your mother was truly the highlight of my week. I wasn't the happiest of campers growing up for various reasons, but your mother showed me how the love of music could soothe so many ills and bring such joy into my life. She often told me I was one of her best students - something that I know bolstered my self-esteem more than anything during my adolescence.

I vividly remember coming to your house, seeing you and Bobby and Randy all doing various things (and hearing drums playing!), and I remember always thinking how nice all of you were to the piano students. There we were - intruding into your space daily, yet you always took the time to greet me with a smile. I remember your father walking in the door after work with his briefcase and greeting your mother. It's funny how very clear those memories are to this day.

I still have every piece of music that your mother taught me to play. She was so special to me, and I don't think I ever took the time to tell her that. I moved out to California where I went to college and lived for a dozen years before returning to Florida in 1995. I ran into your mother sometime after that in a deli, and I had my daughter with me. My daughter was only 5 years old at the time, but to your mother's delight, I told her how piano lessons had already been ongoing for a year now, and how she seemed to have an innate talent and picked it up very quickly.

But the biggest smile from your mother came when I introduced my daughter to her. "Mrs. Gassman," I said "I'd like you to meet my daughter...Sarah."

Alan, your mom put her footprint on my heart and on my life, and I will always be grateful for her. I hope that your family can find peace and comfort knowing how blessed we all were to have her on this earth.

Please give your dad and brothers my best -

Warmest regards,

Lori (Sabin) Rice


  • Dr. Omar Kayaleh
  • Kristine Moore, R.N.
  • Pattie Cramer
  • Eckbert Family
  • K.B. Lee, D.O.
  • Dr. and Mrs. Gary Kasler
  • Erin Rogers
  • Sunni Litchenstein
  • Hitesh Patel, M.D.
  • And all others who's names are too numerous to list

The Sara Gassman
Charitable Foundation

The Sara Gassman Charitable Foundation is a not-for-profit Florida trust established for the purpose of providing repetitive and positive one-on-one 30 minute piano lessons for elementary school students who are disabled, have a major illness, and/or cannot otherwise afford lessons.

Donors will receive a quarterly summary of lessons given in their honor by the parent or parents and teacher for each student.

Donations to the Sara Gassman Charitable Foundation can be sent care of Alan Gassman, 1245 Court Street, Suite 102, Clearwater, Florida 33756 or please call 727-442-1200 x 325.
Here is a sampling of some of Sara's favorite songs and artists. To listen to each click on the play icon.