Sara Lillie Runser

ELIZAVILLE, N.Y. – Sara Lillie Runser, 51, passed away at her beloved home in Elizaville, N.Y. on April 1, 2020 after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer one year ago. Sara met this rare illness with grace, peace, and equanimity.Born in Waterville on Sept. 10,1968 to Mary (Dundas) Runser and Bernard Runser, Sara was the youngest of four children. She showed pluck and determination from a young age, always striving to keep up with her older siblings and their friends. Growing up on 40 acres, she spent most of her time outside roaming the fields, horseback riding, and playing various sports. Sara attended local schools, graduating from Waterville Senior High in 1986. Sara graduated from Boston University in 1991 with a degree in psychology. Soon after, she departed for New York City, craving the excitement and energy of the big city. She attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts and pursued acting for several years, holding waitressing and catering jobs to make ends meet.Shortly thereafter, Sara made the decision to move on from acting and began working at Takashimaya, NYC, an upscale Japanese department store that would be her first step on the path to a long and rewarding career as a floral designer. While working at Takashimaya, Sara created a stunning floral centerpiece for a charity event that was admired by the renowned interior designer, Robert Couturier. He subsequently tracked her down and encouraged her to branch out on her own. This led her to create her New York City-based company, Wild Things Floral Design, in 2006. Sara was known for creating gorgeous, nature-driven floral displays for many high profile clients including the New York City Ballet, the Frick Museum and Swifty Lazaars. She was forced to close Wild Things after the 2008 recession, but continued to work as a floral consultant until she moved upstate in 2018. After closing her floral business, Sara decided to pursue her lifelong interest in skincare. She received her esthetician’s license from the Aveda Institute in NYC in 2009 and began working as a brand ambassador for MyChelle, Pangea, and Alaffia skin care lines. After years of methodically researching skin care ingredients, she founded Lily de Mai in 2016, a brand devoted to the treatment of sensitive skin. Sara ran Lily until April of 2019 when she received her cancer diagnosis. Curious and independent, Sara was an avid traveller and visited over 40 countries in all corners of the globe, primarily on solo adventures, including Kenya, Vietnam, Cambodia, Borneo, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Turkey, Mongolia, India, and Panama. A true animal lover, Sara shepherded 10 cats, three dogs, eight puppies, and two horses throughout her life. In New York City, she came to the aid of numerous wild creatures that crossed her path including taking an injured Mallard duck on a cross town cab ride to a veterinarian on a Saturday evening. She even stood up to a street gang in Brooklyn who were mistreating a dog that she would go on to adopt, her dear Pepper, who gave her years of happiness. An accomplished horsewoman, Sara spent significant time at the barn with her beloved Connemara pony, Clover. Riding was her true passion and nothing, not even a concussion or two kept her out of the saddle. Sara took immense pride in Clover and they competed regularly on the eventing circuit, always improving their skills together. Sara will be remembered for her sharp debate skills, generous heart, her love of Christmas music year-round, as well as her love of sunsets, a well poured Guinness, Chinese noodles, the company of friends and family, her beloved animals and the ocean. She was giving and kind, never pretentious, and had a hearty, easy laugh. She leaves behind her beloved husband, Enzo and their two cherished rescue pups, Goofy and Lucy; her devoted mother; two sisters; a brother; a nephew, three nieces; several aunties; a slew of cousins; and many, many dear friends.Sara wished to thank all of her doctors, nurses and support staff at CareMount Medical and the Dyson Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Community Hospice of Columbia County; Care Oncology, and Dr. Raymond Chang in New York, N.Y. Sara and her family are thankful to all her doctors and nurses for their care and support throughout this journey.Donations may be made in Sara’s name to your local animal shelter to support her love of all creatures big and small.

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