Sara Kettler Friend, a longtime resident of Montclair, died peacefully in her sleep at home, with family by her side, on April 3, 2023, after a six-year bout with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was 59.
Mrs. Friend was born in 1963 to Bernard and Marie Kettler at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. She grew up in Woodcliff Lake, where she excelled at pretty much everything she set her mind to.
Sara “the slugger” in softball. Sara “the speedy” in swimming. Sara “the ace server” in tennis. Sara “the singer” in theater and choir. Sara “the student.” And ultimately, Sara “the sweet” to her classmates, family, relatives and friends.
After graduating from Pascack Hills High School in 1981, she went on to graduate with honors from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where she was president of Chi Omega sorority.
From a young age, Mrs. Friend’s choice in work said a lot about her character. Whether it was being the go-to babysitter, a trusted lifeguard, baker of the best cookies and cakes in town, insurance expert at Travelers or luxury innkeeper at The Swag, she collected a wide array of skills that served her well as a wife and mother and secured her the unofficial title of “CEO of Worldwide Logistics” for the family.
In 1995 she met Pier Friend over a game of golf with friends. Their first date was a friendly game of tennis in Manhattan. After a courtship that included many sets on the court and rounds on the links, they were married in 1998.
In 2000, they had a son, Wilson (“Wil”). Three years later, they added a daughter, Genevieve (“Eve”). Having outgrown their Manhattan apartment, the Friend family moved to Montclair, which they still call home.
Athletic genes run strong in the family, so as the children grew, they kept Mrs. Friend on her toes. She was up to the task. She was a devoted soccer, baseball, softball and track and field mom. She didn’t bat an eye when the kids needed to travel to a tournament anywhere on the eastern seaboard, or beyond.
When it came to sports, Mrs. Friend was game. And her game was tennis.
By modest family estimations, she won “a lot” of tennis events. Her competitive spirit applied the same to singles, doubles and mixed doubles. She enjoyed competing at the Bradford Bath and Tennis Club in Montclair as well as in her tennis community in Wainscott, N.Y., where she vacationed with her family.
Yet as much as she loved winning, she loved her family more. Her greatest trophies are proudly on display in every room of her home – framed photos of her smiling with her husband, children, Mom, Dad, brother, sister, relatives, friends and pets.
Mrs. Friend had an infectious – and very loud – laugh, a razor-sharp mind that vanquished thousands of New York Times crosswords, an encyclopedic memory and a dry sense of humor that was delivered deadpan, yet left all in stitches.
She is survived by her mother, Marie; husband, Pier; son, Wil; daughter, Eve; dog, Teddy; siblings, Marigene Behrens (Mark) and Tom Kettler (Julie); sister-in-law, Timmie Friend Haskins (Scott); brother-in-law, Tad Friend (Amanda Hesser), and nieces and nephews Hannah Kettler, Addison and Walker Friend and Lucia Haskins.
She was predeceased by her father, Bernard; niece, Kate Kettler, and mother- and father-in-law, Elizabeth and Theodore Friend.
Services were held on April 15 at Immaculate Conception Church.
In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Friend requested that donations be made to the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center, alscenter.cuimc.columbia.edu/make-gift; to Team Gleason Foundation, teamgleason.org/donate, or to the ALS Association, donate.als.org/give/287064/#!/donation/checkout?c_src=jumppage.
Arrangements were by Caggiano Memorial Home for Funerals, 62 Grove St.