OXFORD — Sari Gerb Denham, 65, of Oxford, passed away on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, at Griffin Hospital in Derby.
Sari was born on May 27, 1957, in New York, N.Y., to A. Maurice Gerb and the late Annette Pearl Gerb. She graduated in 1978 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.
In August of 1978 Sari began her career in thermal design as an engineer for military rocket engines at Pratt & Whitney aircraft in West Palm Beach, Fla. In September 1979 she transferred to Martin Marietta Aerospace in Cape Canaveral, Fla., continuing her love of engineering and aerospace. Within a short period of time, she was working as a mechanical design engineer at Rockwell International as part of the space shuttle program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
From 1980-84, she was an integral part of heat tile adhesion work for the Columbia Space Shuttle program.
In mid 1984, IBM and Sari joined forces for the next 26 years. Her engineering expertise with product management found Sari working with various teams from Boca Raton, Fla., to Dallas, Texas, New Orleans, La., Gaithersburg, Md., Suresnes, France, Detroit, Mich., New York City and Southbury.
In 2010, Sari became a federal and energy sales representative for Dessault Systems, an international conglomerate. In 2011, she shifted gears with Dessault to product support of the Simulata Division for North American sales in Providence, R.I. She was directly involved in CATIA software programs and was known by her peers as Madam CADAM.
She was recognized for her accomplishments with Dessault and was appointed as the Academia Ambassador for 3DX Academia and Research for North America at the Waltham, Mass., headquarters.
In her personal life, Sari was always a people person and a long list of international friends was beyond imagination.
On Sunday, September 11, 1999, Sari was invited to a friend’s wedding in Mamaroneck, N.Y. She found herself catching a bridal bouquet thrown by the bride and as fate would have it, was introduced to the man who caught the garter. After the ceremonial dance with him, phone numbers were exchanged and several months later, the first date with him, led to a romance of 23 years with Blake Denham, who later became her husband.
In early November of 2003, Blake, being a “little old-fashioned,” asked her parents, Maury and Annette Gerb to give their blessings for him to marry their only daughter. Their only question was, “What took you so long?” On November 6, Blake, on one knee, proposed to Sari on the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Three years later, on July 6, 2006, Blake and Sari said their “I do’s” and were married on the island of Crete in Greece.
The couple have resided in Oxford for more than 20 years. Shortly after they moved to Oxford, Sari’s parents followed them to Oxford. Finally, after her years of relocating for business, Sari had what she always wanted, a place to call home and with several acres of property in the country.
She started what would become spectacular perennial gardens surrounding her home. Flowers bloomed from early spring until late fall. Everything from hummingbirds to cardinals to deer, bears, coyotes and chipmunks would join her. During daily afternoon hikes with her puppy, Schnoodle, and Blake in tow, Sari took full advantage of her beautiful surroundings.
Her close relationship with and proximity to her parents became a daily event. Her devoted love of her mom and dad fulfilled her dreams of being able to see them often and their daily phone calls topped her list.
Right from the beginning in Oxford, Sari developed many close friendships to add to her already close relationships with her best friends in Louisiana, North Carolina, Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C.
Among Sari’s many accomplishments was working with her close friend, “Bobsled Bob” Cunio, in the funding of the 2010 Gold Metal winning four-man bobsled, breaking a 62-year drought.
She started her morning talking to Rani and her sister-in-law Diane in Stamford. Her dad was her pride and joy and she spoke to him several times every day, especially after her mom’s passing nine years ago.
Sari’s sudden passing on October 25 left a void that can never be filled. There was never a day that Sari sat and watched life go by, because, as she said, “life is too short. Get out and smell the flowers.” She had so much more to do.
Her love of family, friends, gardening, wildlife, nature and sledding in winter left everyone she met with incredible memories that will last a lifetime, and with those memories, great sadness. She would want her life life to be an example to everyone who knew her.
She made everyone laugh and her infectious smile was contagious. She walked into a room and immediately there was a change in the atmosphere. She always smiled and had a friendly word. If you had a problem, she was there to listen anytime. Her positive attitude and genuine interest gave people comfort and direction. If she thought she could make a difference in someone’s life, she dropped what she was dropped what she was doing and jumped in with both feet. If a friend called and asked for advice, she listened and gave her honest opinion; maybe not what they wanted to hear, but you knew she cared deeply and applied her knowledge and experience to help solve the most difficult problems.
Sari had the admiration of friends, family and colleagues. She never missed sending a birthday or anniversary card or gift. Valentine’s Day was always special with flowers, balloons and lobster.
Sari waited with great anticipation for the arrival of spring’s first hummingbirds and called friends and family to inform them. As much as she loved her gardens, she accepted the deer eating her flowers. She watched as they consumed her hostas and said she had plenty, and the change in diet was good. If an injured bird or animal showed up, and they did, she had a wildlife rehabilitator on speed dial. A hard winter found Sari with a 50-pound bag of food to help them make it through a few more days.
She never started or finished a day without expressing her love to her dad, her husband or her special friends and family. She loved politics and she never failed to vote at every election.
Sari was a lifelong Mets fan and on her birthday, she and Blake were at the game. She knew everything about baseball and watched over 100 games a year. She cheered for the Mets enthusiastically and booed the rivals with equal ferocity.
Sari’s devotion to animals was strong and in lieu she would like donations to go to the ASPCA.
Her dad, husband, brother and Schnooddle were the loves of her life. Her new step-grandson Carter’s pictures were sent to everyone she knew. Sari may not be here in person, but she will never leave. Her legacy in both career and personal life will go on forever.
She was special and will truly be missed.
Sari is survived by her beloved husband, Blake Denham, and his children, Jeffrey Denham and Rebecca Denham, grandson, Justin Otero; her brother, James Gerb and his wife, Donna Smith; her niece and nephew, Elianna Gerb and Samuel Gerb and his wife, Ashley; her great-nephew, Carter Gerb; her sister-in-law, Diane Maguire and her husband, Tommy, and her best friend, Schnoodle.
A graveside service took place Sunday, October 30, at New Montefiore Cemetery, West Babylon, N.Y.
Memorial contributions may be made to an animal rescue or charity of the donor’s choice.
For more information and to share an online condolence, visit www.greensfuneralhome.com.