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HELENA — Sarah Russell Etchart, age 70, passed away peacefully Monday, March 5, 2018.

Sarah was born Sarah Fortune Russell on Aug. 13, 1947, in Bronxville, New York, to Betty and Edwin Russell — former mayor of Bronxville, senior partner in the Brooklyn law firm of Cullen & Dykman, and president of the New York State Bar Association. A New York debutante, Sarah graduated from Bronxville High School in 1965 and went on to attend Bradford Junior College in Haverfill, Massachusetts. After spending her summers waitressing at Jackson Lake Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Sarah fell in love with the Mountain West and graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Sarah’s time in Jackson Hole inspired a life-long love for the West, which ultimately brought her to San Francisco and into the advertising business as a media buyer with D’Arcy-McManus & Masius. During this time, Sarah met John Newton Etchart, a young Marine from Glasgow, just back from Vietnam, on a blind date. The pair fell in love and were married on Oct. 18, 1975, in the Borromeo Chapel at Carroll College. The newlyweds then moved to Billings where Sarah continued working in advertising and John received a master's degree.

In April 1984, Sarah and John welcomed their only daughter, Jeannie, who was, from the very beginning, the light of their life. The family soon moved to Helena when John took a position with Burlington Northern and Sarah embraced her new life raising young Jeannie, taking care of the home, and engaging in the Helena community.

Sarah was well known for her quick wit, smart and balanced opinions, and extreme generosity. She was selected for a number of leadership positions in the Helena and greater Montana community. She served on the boards of St. Peter’s Hospital, Helena Education Foundation, Foundation for Animals, Greater Montana Foundation, and was appointed by the Montana Supreme Court to serve on the Commission on Practice from 2007-2011.

Sarah was the epitome of elegance, regarded for her excellent skills in the kitchen and as a gracious hostess and entertainer. Sarah was often found maintaining her meticulous and flourishing garden, spending time on the tennis courts with dear friends or walking her beloved dogs around the neighborhood.

Sarah was preceded in death, 11 months to the day, by her husband of 41 years, John N. Etchart; parents Ed and Betty Russell; mother-in-law Elaine Etchart; sister-in-law Alicia Russell; brother-in-law Brent Frederickson; nephew Jacob Etchart; and niece Sally Jo Page Haynie. She is survived by her daughter Jeannie; older brother Edwin Larson Russell (Kimberlie) of Watch Hill, Rhode Island; father-in-law Gene Etchart; in-laws Michele (Steve) Page, Joe (Patt) Etchart, Janeen (Tom) McCarvel, Jacque Frederickson; and many nieces and nephews and their children. A very special thank you to Marie Lavinder, Jennifer Crowley, and Michelle Suero — the indispensable team of caregivers who became like family these past two years.

A celebration of Sarah’s life will be held at the Cathedral of St. Helena on Tuesday, March 13, at 10 a.m. followed by a reception at the Montana Club, 24 W. Sixth Ave. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Lewis & Clark Humane Society, P.O. Box 4455, Helena, MT 59604, the Helena Foundation for Animals, P.O. Box 389 Helena, MT 59624 or an organization of the donor’s choosing. Please visit to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Sarah.

the life of: Sarah Russell Etchart
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