HANSON — A familiar face inside the snack shack at the Botieri Field, Lori Sawtelle of Hanson always dedicated her time to helping others and shared her love of baseball with hundreds of Little Leaguers.
There will be an un-fillable void as baseball season begins next week, friends have said.
Lori Sawtelle lost her courageous battle with cancer last week. She was only 47 years old. A mother to Ryan and Ashley and married for 24 years to husband Scott, who has also been a staple at the field, Sawtelle is described as a dedicated and giving woman by all who knew her.
A committed volunteer in the community and an employee of the Hanson Middle School, Sawtelle is remembered by former Hanson Little League Board member Greg Collins.
“In a global perspective she literally was there running the snack shack nearly every night,” Collins said. “We knew she was there and it was in good hands. Things ran smoothly. … As a board member we were confident things were done right. She was loved by all.”
Collins said Sawtelle “literally knew everyone” — all the kids by their first name and their parents, as well.
“She was always at the ballfield and a constant in a positive sense,” he recalled. “It was always about the kids and making a better experience about the greater good of the town. She was a baseball mom through and through but it was more than that. She has left a mark. There is a void and she will be missed.”
Hanson Fire Lt. Rob O’Brien, also a HLL board member, knew Lori as a principal at the snack shack and echoed her unwavering commitment to the youth in the community.
O’Brien’s son Chris would often volunteer to assist Lori, who welcomed the hands at the snack shack. She even gave him a few catching tips as he developed his skills at that position, O’Brien recalled.
“Chris would get a hot dog from Lori at the end of the night. It was the kind of lady she was. She was always kind to him,”said O’Brien.
Those who remember Lori extend throughout the community at-large.
“The passing of Lori Sawtelle is a great loss to the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District and the community of Hanson,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Gilbert-Whitner said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for her many contributions to the school system and community. At Whitman-Hanson, we are keeping Lori’s family, co-workers, students, and friends in our thoughts and prayers”
Scott Sawtelle has also been active as a coach since his son was 4. Hanson LL Board of Directors President Mike Joselyn spoke of Scott and Lori as friends and former neighbors.
Although Sawtelle’s health was failing she made sure to attend and cheer on the boys championship games last season, Joselyn said. Photographing each player with the trophy and emailing a copy of the photo to their family.
“She was selfless. It is just what she did and she made other people better because of who she was,” he said.
Last fall Paul Clarke of Hanson, also a board member for HLL, was a driving force in establishing a fund to assist in defraying the cost medical care for Lori. She was present at the walking event and at the finish line, which coincided with the Damien’s Freaky 5K run.
Many who participated in the event have commented through Facebook upon hearing of her passing.
Hanson Little League posted photos of Lori from last year’s fall event and commented on the tremendous loss.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lori Sawtelle. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Sawtelle family during this difficult time. Lori fought her cancer with courage and always had an upbeat outlook. She was always there for Hanson Little League through the years. She will be missed.”
The Whitman-Hanson Regional High School baseball team, on which Lori’s son Ryan plays, attended both her wake and funeral in support of their teammate, according to Whitman Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green, whose son is on the team.
“The entire W-H community is saddened by the passing of Lori Sawtelle, a Hanson Middle paraprofessional and most importantly husband to Scott and loving mom to Ashley and Ryan,” WHRHS Athletic Director Bob Rodgers Tweeted Friday, March 24. “Ryan is one of our best student-athletes who is loved by all of his teammates.”
Whitman’s Board of Selectmen honored her memory in their pre-meeting Moment of Silence Tuesday night.
A memorial fund has been set up in her name to reduce the financial burden on her family at the web site You Caring at: youcaring.com/sawtellefamily-783695.
Content from Lori Sawtells’ obituary [See page 13] was used in this article.