Nova Scotia

Young Halifax woman lived fully because she 'didn't have time to waste'

At the time her death, Sarah Leslie Dubé had achievements that would be amazing for people double or triple her age.

'This is going to sound strange but there was something angelic about her'

Sarah Dubé will be remembered at a memorial service Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the University of King's College. (Submitted by Lillianne Dubé )

Family and friends of Sarah Leslie Dubé are mourning the loss of the young Halifax woman whom they describe as an amazing leader, philanthropist and intellectual dynamo "with a wicked sense of humour."

Dubé, who died Nov. 28, captivated the many people she met in her short life with her wit and intelligence, friend Susan Dodd said Friday.

Dodd, a professor at the University of King's College, was Dubé's tutor during the school's foundation year program and became a good friend.

"She was one of the most generous people I have ever met. She had such a presence, a presence for good."

Top 20 Under 20

Dubé died a few weeks short of her 29th birthday while visiting relatives in Plymouth, Mass. 

At the time of her death, she had achievements that would be amazing for people double or triple her age.

Dubé received a Top 20 Under 20 award in 2006 for her work in leading Students For Teaching Peace groups to Serbia and Northern Ireland.

A student at St. Patrick's High School where she graduated with a lieutenant-governor's medal, she organized and fundraised for the trips, recalls her mother. 

"This was at the end of the genocide," said Lillianne Dubé. "There were still bombed-out buildings in Belgrade."

Sarah Dubé is shown with the group Students For Teaching Peace in Serbia.

Dubé graduated from King's with a degree in contemporary studies and went on to achieve a master's degree in urban planning. She was planning on completing a PhD as well.

She donated her time to charities, began acquiring real estate as a springboard to funding her philanthropic activities, travelled widely in Europe and the United States and indulged her love of music, particularly folk and country.

'She didn't have time to waste"

She had a great love of cooking and baking, collecting volumes of recipes and was always giving away food, said Lillianne Dubé, a Halifax optometrist.

Born with muscular dystrophy and not expected to live beyond childhood, "it was mind boggling what she got done," said her mother. "She would set the stage for action ... she didn't have time to waste."

At the time of her death, she was co-chairing Independent Living Nova Scotia, scouting out rental properties — she was already a landlord — and planning future trips abroad.

The daily struggles of living with muscular dystrophy were immense, her mother acknowledges. "Her muscles were constantly failing her."

Sarah Dubé was a tireless advocate for improving accessibility and independent living for people with mobility problems and the youngest chair of Independent Living Nova Scotia.

Sarah Dube is shown with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. The young Halifax woman, known by many for her leadership and generosity, died Nov. 28. (Submitted by Lillianne Dube)

"But she never voiced her dependence on others. She was never defined by her physical limitations," her mother said.

'Something angelic about her'

Dodd said her friend's charm, enthusiasm and creativity made her fragile health nearly invisible to her friends.

"I became lazy and not mindful of the challenges she faced daily. She was so engaging and positive. This is going to sound strange but there was something angelic about her."

In fact, Dubé's death came as a shock to many.

"It is hard to believe that she is gone," Dodd said.

Lillianne Dubé said one measure of her daughter's strong bond with others came with the reaction of a close friend who learned of her death while travelling in Europe.

"Chris flew home when he found out. He took a bus from here to Grand Falls (N.B.) to be there for her funeral."

A memorial service for Dubé is planned for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the University of King's College.