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People We’ll Miss—2014

Edith Sawyer, 93

March 2, 1921–August 8, 2014

Edith Sawyer didn’t talk much about her time in the Navy or the days spent assisting to break Japanese code for the National Security Agency during World War II.

Maybe it was because after she returned from war, she focused on raising her three daughters (and after that, earning a nursing degree, which she did at age sixty). Maybe it was that she had her hands full spearheading the hospice program in rural areas around Cedar Creek Lake. Or maybe, as her daughter Joanna Kriss hypothesizes, she was simply in the habit of not talking about it. Sawyer knew she could be tried for treason and executed if she disclosed any details of her work during the war, and the practice of keeping quiet about it stayed with her for the rest of her life.

But upon her burial, Sawyer’s role as a Navy lieutenant JG in 1943 surfaced as one of the more defining periods of her life. “When she died, a Navy commander came to the grave site to do a special ceremony for my mom,” said Kriss. “That was when we really started picking up more.” –Kelsey Davis

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