Sally Jo Askevold of Whitefish passed on peacefully at home on May 23, 2018 at the age of 71, following a lengthy illness.
Sally was born on Feb. 22, 1947 in Springfield, Massachusetts to Joseph and Jeane Margaret (Dixon) Zieminski, the eldest of 4 daughters. She moved with her parents to North Carolina after one month, where she lived until she was 2, when the family packed up and moved to northern California (she said, “southern was her first language”).
She spent her early years moving from school to school in the San Francisco Bay Area, followed by studies at the College of San Mateo and San Jose State University. But a clue as to what fate had in store for her came in the form of a song about Big Sky Country that she heard over the radio in her cousin’s kitchen at the age of 12. With closed eyes, she knew that Montana was somewhere in her future.
Sally met her husband, Montana native Gerald Askevold, while both were working in Menlo Park, California. She convinced him that they should move to Montana, which they did in 1976.
They first settled in Bigfork after purchasing a home in the country and the community’s original bank building located adjacent to the Bigfork Playhouse. After an extensive remodel and addition, the building found new life as the Seastar Coffee House, Gallery, and Cellar Restaurant, which she and her husband owned and operated until 1985. During this period they were also instrumental in creating the Bigfork Festival of the Arts as a fund raiser for a new playhouse to replace the existing structure. A son, Erik, was born in 1978.
Pottery workshops and residencies in northern California, Sun Valley, Idaho and Montana helped launch and refine her skills for a 40 plus year career as a studio potter and ceramic artist. Her work was featured in galleries in the Napa Valley, California, Washington and Montana. But juried art fairs throughout the northwest provided the widest exposure for her work, and she enjoyed the travel to new places and the opportunity to meet many new artists. “Tile by Fire,” a collaboration with fellow artists and friends, Wendy Anderson and Walker Davis, was a playful creative chapter in her artistic journey.
In the mid 1990’s, the family relocated to Whitefish, Sally’s favorite Montana community, where she supplemented her studio production with several places of employment: Safeway, for years at multiple positions, Stephen Isley Jewelry, Stumptown Art Center, and Whitefish Pottery & Stillwater Gallery. But her all-time favorite job was Bookworks, where she was able to combine her great love of literature in the company of people who shared her passion for books, which extended to joining a women’s book club and a women’s creative writing group.
Sally’s path was the path of beauty and creativity, whether making pots, jewelry, painting or writing. Her great love of the ocean was a recurrent theme, prominently reflected in her work. This same love of the ocean posed her greatest challenge living in Montana.
Dr. David Sheldon was instrumental in Sally’s decision to receive treatment at Kalispell Regional Medical Center rather than seek treatment out of state. Dr. Sheldon’s remarkable skill as a surgeon combined with his compassionate care and other special qualities, aided by his caring staff, helped Sally and her family navigate the challenging times she faced following her initial diagnosis and the years that followed. Dr. Nicholas Costrini’s expertise proved invaluable during her treatments as well. The family would also like to thank Dr. Elise Anderes & Dr. Lynn Troy, along with the other doctors and staff of Northwest Center for Specialty Oncology Care, for their care and the long-term friendships and relationships that developed during the course of Sally’s treatment. During the last months of Sally’s life, Dr. Leah Carlburg and other doctors and staff of Geriatrics and Supportive Care in partnership with Hospice Services under Home Options provided the skills and experience that made it possible for Sally to live at home with the necessary support for her family and friends until the end of her life.
Sally was preceded in death by her father, Joseph Zieminski, and brother-in-law, Patrick Hagnere.
She is survived by her husband of 42 plus years, Gerald Askevold of Whitefish and son, Erik Askevold of Portland, Oregon; her mother, Jeane Margaret Zieminski of Diamond Springs, California;
Sisters Joan (Tom) Sudano of Redwood City, California; Anne Hagnere of River Pines, California; Jennie (Ron) Grenier of Half Moon Bay, California; nieces, Jessica and Jenna; sister-in-law, Joanne Askevold McArthur of Whitefish and her children, Dr. Heidi (Dr. Jay) Gillenwater and Thor Hauge of Charlottesville, Virginia; and Kirsten (Reid) Sabin of Whitefish.
Sally will be remembered by those who knew her for her kindness, generosity, work ethic, love of the natural world, creativity and imagination. And for her courage, grace and amazing attitude while challenged with a life-threatening illness.
A memorial event to pay tribute to and honor Sally will be held at the Bohemian Hall in Whitefish on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 from 3-5 p.m. Contributions in memory of Sally may be made to Habitat for Humanity (257-8800).
Friends are encouraged to visit our website at www.buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory is caring for the family.