This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Sarah Rivers 51 years old , born on June 22, 1967 and passed away on March 27, 2019. We will remember her forever.

It is with great sadness we announce that Sarah Ann (Poole) Rivers, our dear daughter, mother, wife, sister, aunt, niece and friend, passed away on March 27, 2019. Sarah grew up in Raleigh and found her lifelong passion of theater by the time she was 16.  She quickly discovered that the wonderful qualities she inherited from her parents, organization, stubbornness, and a fantastic sense of humor, made her a great stage manager and so if she wasn’t at school or work, she was in the theater at Enloe High School or Raleigh Little Theater. Sarah was very proud to have been the Stage Manager for RLT’s first production of Cinderella, now in its 30th+ season.

Once bitten by the theater bug, Sarah decided there was nothing else she’d rather do with her life and so there was no better place than the North Carolina School of the Arts for her to go for college. Sarah truly enjoyed her years at NCSA and was lucky to have made lifelong friends and memories there before she graduated, in 1990, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage Management.

While at NCSA Sarah discovered she loved working on Operas, so after graduation she spent the next 5 years touring with some of the best opera companies in the country, including the San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Cleveland Lyric Operator.

Following her marriage to Paul Rivers in 1994, her son, Alex was born in 2000 and her son Jackson in 2002. Sarah was a devoted mother who loved being a stay-at-home mom for her two sons.  With her deep southern roots, two grandmas that showed their love through food, it is no wonder that Sarah eventually became a true foodie herself. Blending her love for her kids and family with her love for food, she and her sister Amy opened the first Dream Dinners store in North Carolina in 2004. Her desire was never to own a business, but instead to help families get back to the dinner table, talking and enjoying dinner together, just as she had done every day of her childhood.

The last year of her life, Sarah was a frequent volunteer at The Round Table Fellowship at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, providing a “home-cooked” meal and open arms to people in her community that are housing and food insecure.

Sarah was a passionate person and put all her energy into things that meant the most to her. Sarah’s commitment to living her life on her own terms was admirable; she always beat to the rhythm of her own drum and did things on her own time.

Sarah will be joining her Father, Buddy Poole, Grandparents Nadine and Fred Kuper, and Dolly Poole, as well as her Aunt Patsy and Aunt Bobbie and a few friends, who all passed before her.

Left to carry Sarah’s spirit – and we will – are her husband, Howard Kushner; her mother Ginny Going, step-parents Tom Henderson and Lynne Poole, sons Alex and Jackson Rivers, sister Amy Crum and her husband Jim, step-sisters Meredith Henderson and her husband Darren Horton and Erica Henderson-Smith and her husband Jim Smith, Aunts Martha Brinson and Nora Kuper, Uncle John Kuper  and a scattering of nieces and nephews, Zach, Liam, Emma, and Jacob

The family wants to thank everyone for the outpouring of support, prayers, and thoughts during this difficult time. The love and kindness they have received is a testament to how many lives she touched and the kind of person she was.

We are waiting until things settle down but are planning on having a celebration of life at some point in the near future. Sarah was never one to rush things, so in her spirit we will “plan to make a plan” and let you know.

Please visit the Gallery and Stories Tabs on the site. Sarah's family would love it if you'd share your stories, memories and/or pictures of Sarah here.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Sarah’s honor to:

Raleigh Little Theater
301 Pogue Street
Raleigh, NC 27607


Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
Designated for Roundtable Fellowship
1801 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27605

Posted by Howard Kushner on June 22, 2021
Happy Birthday Lala,
I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.
Your Claw
Posted by Linda Bamford on March 27, 2021
Remembering today this very talented woman who was taken away way too soon.
Posted by Martha Brinson on March 27, 2021
Dear Sweet Pea,

Uncle Robert and I were just sitting here looking back at your photos from when you were our little flower girl in 1972, and one of you and Robert at Easter time 2009. We miss you every day, and I can tell whenever you are near me.  Love, Auntie M.
Posted by Howard Kushner on June 22, 2019
Happy Birthday Sweetheart. I miss you every day. You were always my significant otter. My butter half. Rest in Peace my Honey Bunny.
Posted by Martha Brinson on June 1, 2019
My Dearest Sweet Pea,
Your celebration gathering today was lovely, but then you already know that because you were there. I cried through the whole thing, it was so touching.
I wanted to thank you for “visiting” me last night and telling me to watch the film “Saving Mr. Banks,” which you had asked me several times before to be sure and watch. It popped up on the movie choices without my searching for it, so I watched it, and it was delightful. 
But the best part was the “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” ending, which I sang along with. (I still have my “Mary Poppins” 33 1/3 LP record album and know all the lyrics by heart.)
I had no prior knowledge of what was coming on today’s program, so imagine my surprise, Sweet Pea, when your celebration ended with “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”  I was absolutely floored. 
Thank you for the messages you have been sending me, but especially for this extra special one you sent me the very night before your gathering.
I love you, my little Sweet Pea, my little flower girl, my goddaughter, my darling niece. I will miss you every day of my life. 
Love you always, Auntie M
(Martha Kuper Brinson)
Posted by Chuck Oglesby on June 1, 2019
When I think about the young people's group at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, so long ago, I always remember Sarah first. She was witty, had an infectious sense of humor and many have mentioned her brilliant smile.She was caring and empathetic. That's how I will remember Sarah.
Posted by David Cash on April 23, 2019
Meeting Sarah at the rehearsals for the first season of Cinderella changed my life. After being chosen as Prince Charming, Sarah and I began sharing many memories together. From stage to other adventures with Bryan Putnam and David Logan, to NYC in the mid-80s with just Sarah and I, every day was filled with laughter and love. No matter the time that passed with only online and phone conversations, she has always remained a special friend. Thank you for the special tribute here. Looking forward to seeing you again. Love and prayers to all your family.
Posted by Sarah Veitch on April 21, 2019
❤️ love
Posted by Dorothy B Brolin on April 11, 2019
Sending thoughts and prayers your way. What a beautiful tribute and smile. You can see what an wonderful, kind soul she had, and how proud she made you. Remember that her light and love will forever live and shine in your hearts. Namaste, Dorothy
Posted by Kayelily Middleton on April 11, 2019
Ginny and Tom,
It is with heavy hearts learning of Sarah’s transition, that we send our love and prayers. What a lovely tribute to Sarah you have written. Sounds like she lived her life to the fullest and has left a legacy of love. May peace be with you. With love, Kayelily and Dave
Posted by Kathryn Tobias on April 2, 2019
A beautiful life and smile. Thank you for sharing the stories--I will be thinking about Sarah and her family, especially Ginny and Tom, the ones I have been privileged to know and love. May you continue to feel the warmth of Sarah's smile and presence! Kath Tobias
Posted by Jane Jarvis on March 31, 2019
Sarah Smiles! and her smile will be forever in our hearts. When we moved to our first home in Raleigh, we were blessed to live next door to the little girl with the smiling face. Over the years we have watched her grow from that young child, proudly l holding her baby sister, Amy, to an amazing thoughtful, funny, gracious, intelligent woman. Her smile lit rooms whenever she entered. We will miss her, but rejoice that her long journey into death is over...that she is a peace, and is certainly enjoying her Heavenly family. You are missed, but will never be forgotten Sarah. You are loved by the Jarvis family.
Posted by Ceil Blackwell on March 30, 2019
Dear Ginny, I know your heart is broken, and I am so sorry. While you are glad she won't suffer anymore, you will miss her presence. I pray God will give you and your family the peace and comfort you need at this difficult time.
Ceil Blackwell (Beth Swartz's mother)
Posted by M Campbell on March 30, 2019
Dear Rivers family,
I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I hope that you can find comfort from the promises that God has in store for us in the near future. "Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life" - John 5:28 ,29.
Posted by Howard Kushner on March 30, 2019
in the words of e.e. cummings which have ever rung true for us
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                           i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Posted by Aj Johnston on March 29, 2019
I found myself moved to tears reading about Sarah's beautiful life and comments from the people who knew and loved her.  What a beautiful smile! Sending love from Montana to all her family and friends. --aj
Posted by Charles Phaneuf on March 29, 2019
On behalf of the staff of Raleigh Little Theatre, I wanted to express my condolences to your whole family for the loss of Sarah. I only met her once - when Howard brought her to Cinderella 30 - to see the production that she so loved working on with Haskell. In that brief interaction she struck me as a kind, warm and energetic person. Hers is a huge loss and we will be thinking about all of you during this time.
Posted by Linda Bamford on March 29, 2019
My deepest sympathies to Sarah's family on this great loss of your beloved Sarah. I was at Raleigh Little Theatre last night and was flooded with memories of Sarah and how much she loved theatre and RLT AND how really good she was at it. I loved going to Dream Dinners and being welcomed so warmly by Sarah and Amy (I still miss making those terrific dinners). They were a great team and always fun to be around and very helpful. Sarah brought a lot of sunshine to so many. She will be missed.
Posted by Shirley Rivers on March 29, 2019
I am sorry for your loss. May your memories bring you comfort and peace. Praying for all the family.
Posted by Patricia Long on March 29, 2019
I am wrapping my virtual arms around Ginny and Tom at this tender time, knowing how your love carried Sarah through her illness. I hope that in time good memories with Sarah will come to ease some of the pain you feel now. God is always with you and with her, to comfort, sustain, and heal.
Posted by Sue Bass on March 29, 2019
What a beautiful smile Sarah had. We'll miss seeing it.
Posted by Samantha Daniels on March 28, 2019
never knew her but i am from NCSA family - was there till 82' then to NYC to pursue an acting career- just wanted to say - how lovely this memorial is and that i am sorry i didnt know her - glad she had a successful career doing what she loved and was able to have a family and be loved by a good man - many blessings - samantha daniels
Posted by John Kuper on March 28, 2019
We will miss you Sarah and you will always be in our hearts. We have a lot of wonderful memories, like when you were pushing Tracey in her stroller at the beach (you could barely reach the handles ) Rest peacefully your suffering is over Love Uncle John and Aunt Edie

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Howard Kushner on June 22, 2021
Happy Birthday Lala,
I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.
Your Claw
Posted by Linda Bamford on March 27, 2021
Remembering today this very talented woman who was taken away way too soon.
Posted by Martha Brinson on March 27, 2021
Dear Sweet Pea,

Uncle Robert and I were just sitting here looking back at your photos from when you were our little flower girl in 1972, and one of you and Robert at Easter time 2009. We miss you every day, and I can tell whenever you are near me.  Love, Auntie M.
Recent stories

Sweet kisses from baby Sarah on a Sunday morning

Shared by Martha Brinson on June 22, 2020
(Recently, I came across this diary entry of mine.  Ginny and Sarah had come over to our house on St. George Road on a Sunday morning.)

"Sunday, July 7, 1968  -- The first thing I saw this morning was a little face with two big blue dots for eyes and a lip sucked way in, ready to smack a kiss at me.  Sarah Anne had toddled over to my bed while I was asleep.  When she kisses, she 'pops' rather than smooches."

She planted many juicy kisses all over my cheeks.  I loved that sweet face.

I miss you every day, my little Sweet Pea, and I can tell when you are here near me.

Love, Auntie M

How Sarah Met Howard

Shared by Howard Kushner on March 29, 2019

In 2005 Sarah met Howard online on, she called herself Annapurna, and he called himself Simple Man. She later explained the name Annapurna.

Annapurna is the goddess of food and nourishment in Hinduism. Worship and offering of food is highly praised in Hinduism and therefore, the goddess Annapurna is regarded as a popular deity.

Howard took the name Simple Man because of the song Simple Man as performed by Shinedown:

Mama told me, when I was young, "Said sit beside me, my only son

And listen closely, to what I say, And if you do this, it will help you some sunny day" Oh yeah

"Oh take your time, don't live too fast, Troubles will come, and they will pass

You'll find a woman, and you'll find love, And don't forget that, there is someone up above"

Well, Sarah and Howard flirted online for several months, off and on. Eventually they decided to meet in person at the North Carolina Museum of Art, at the outdoor movie "Ray", the Ray Charles story. Sarah drove her white Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan with the Dream Dinners license plate, and Howard rode his new blue Harley-Davidson Road King.

Sarah said later that she was seeing three men at that time, "short guy", "tall guy", and "Harley guy". Sarah also told me that she had a rule, "no kissing on the first date". Well rules were made to be broken. It took some time but the rest, as you know, is history. Howard took off his motorcycle jacket and folded it up for a pillow, and the two snuggled under the blanked that was fastened to the back of his motorcycle with a bungee cord.

Sarah's last words to me

Shared by Martha Brinson on March 28, 2019

While I was staying overnight with Sarah on one of her final days, she drifted in and out of awareness.  At one point, even though her eyes were closed, she knew me and spoke with me, and then she said her final words to me -- a song.  In perfect tune, she sang me the Carol Burnett sign-off song, and I sang it along with her.  

"I'm so glad we had this time together,

Just to have a laugh or sing a song,

Seems we just get started and before you know it

Comes the time we have to say so long."

Good night, my little Sweet Pea.  

Love you always,  "Auntie M."  (Martha Kuper Brinson)