Viola Ellen Sagebiel, 96, died January 1, 2021
She was born July 8,1924 in Kansas City Kansas. She was the seventh of eight children of Andrew Charles Edward (Ed) Eastwood and Bessie Charlena Burton Eastwood. It was in a small 3 room house in KCK that Viola first learned to watch her pennies, and developed a lifelong love of things that didn’t cost money. It was the depression, and no one she knew had money, so doing without was just a way of life. It was here that she learned to play the piano, in a small class where the students sat on the floor, and practiced on a paper keyboard. They played their piece once a week for the teacher on her real piano and learned fingering and chords on the paper keyboard. She played the piano the rest of her life, learned on paper, and practiced while sitting on the floor.
When Viola was 13, the Eastwood girls and their mother moved to their beloved Ozarks. It was here that Viola found her peace and deep love of the trees, the fall, and friendships. They still didn’t have any money, so a primary entertainment was to make a dishpan full of popcorn, and sit while Viola would read to them. Her love affair with poetry developed then and she wrote poetry the rest of her life. She attended Seligman high school and graduated valedictorian of her small class. She moved to Joplin Missouri and ran her own small letterpress company.
She moved to Kansas City Kansas in 1947, where she fell in love, and married Earl Sagebiel. That marriage was to last 57 years up until Earl’s death. They had a life defined by faith-in God, each other, and love of family and friends. They shared a love of good music, bad jokes, and really good bridge playing. They had three children: Kay Ellen, Julie Roxene, and Rocky Alan, and in 1958 moved the family to Gladstone, Missouri.
Viola was an active person. While still working fulltime, she also learned to sew, then made clothes, quilts and projects for the family. She crocheted, and made a room sized rug from rag strips. She read voraciously, a lifetime subscriber to the Kansas City Star, and kept up a pages long list of all the books she had read in her life up to her last days, eager to share updates when family visited. She painted in acrylics and watercolors, played bridge, and was a subscriber to both the Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric opera. She taught Sunday school, played the piano and organ for church,and was a lay minister. But her first love was always poetry. She collected books on poetry, and wrote her thoughts in verse. Poems for joy, sadness, new grandchildren, whatever struck her deeply. She gifted this love of beautiful music and beautiful words to her children and grandchildren.
In 1976, having launched their children successfully into the world, she and Earl moved, first to Des Moines, and then to Omaha, where they lived for 25 years. There, as always, they again developed deep, enduring friendships supported by letters, cards and visits up to her final days.
Using Omaha as a home base, Vi and Earl began in earnest a series of amazing and fulfilling travel journeys both in the United States and abroad. She spoke fondly of having visited all 50 states, Canadian provinces, and much of Mexico and Europe, and kept meticulous scrapbooks of every trip filled with photographs, brochures, and sometimes receipts! Her family to this day enjoys rekindling these trips through her scrapbooks. In 2001, as travel became harder, Vi and Earl moved back to Kansas City to be closer to family.
Her faith gave her strength when her only son Rocky died at age 39. She and Earl found solace in their faith through that hard time. She lost Earl in 2004, and once again her faith sustained her. She is survived by her daughters, Kay and Julie, five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. She was a fixture in their lives and will be deeply missed.
On the death of her mother, Viola penned the poem below. Her surviving children find the same feeling and admiration for her in its beautiful verse:
She was always there.
Like the hills and the trees,
The earth, sea, and sun,
The solid, sharp-edged rocks.
Now part of the whole is gone,
Swallowed up in a cloudy vapor.
McMurry UMC ,Liberty ,Missouri
Thank you for letting us know. Vi was an amazing lady and we enjoyed sharing church activities with her & Earl. She will be missed.
Nephew ,Olathe ,Kansas
So talented and deep appreciation for the fine arts, family and Gods work in nature. I was a young teen when I had the luck and privilege of accompanying my mother (Bessie Mae) and Viola to the KC Philharmonic. It was a mystery to me how they happened to ask me if I wanted to go. I jumped at the opportunity! I always saw that moment as a grand and generous gift from Viola! Can't remember what the occasion was about but several years ago there was a family gathering and I was very impressed at Vilas' sharp wit, sense of humor and her characteristic strength and independence. To you Kay and Julie I extend sincerest condolence. Best wishes in 2021 and beyond!