By Julie Obermiller
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Sally Oakes Zastrow has her own coat of many colors. Actually, it’s a colorful collection of T-shirts from all the organizations she continues to be a part of. You’ll find her in pink, purple or a rainbow of colors in support of some of the most active organizations in the area. The Lockport resident recently celebrated her 80th birthday at the Wrights Corners Volunteer Fire Co. installation dinner, where she was an honored guest. They presented Sally with an award for 25 years of service, and she is now a life member of the organization.
Originally from North Tonawanda, Sally moved to Lockport as a teen and has never looked back. She graduated from Lockport High School and is one of Lockport’s biggest boosters.
Married and a mother of two, Sally worked at Newfane Hospital as an X-ray technician and in the occupational therapy department at Buffalo State Hospital before going to work at Harrison Radiator.
After several years working in the factory, Sally was accepted into the skilled trades apprenticeship program and was only the second female apprentice in the Lockport plant. Leading the way for other females in the skilled trades, she worked as a General Motors electrician until the mid-1990s. No stranger to working hard for a living, Sally still found time to be involved in the lives and activities of her family and community.
The multi-talented Sally is the ultimate volunteer. Before her 25 years with the Wrights Corners Ladies Auxiliary volunteer organization, she spent 15 years as a member in South Lockport Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary, and her years of involvement to fire service are not limited to these local companies. Sally has served and held elected offices in both Niagara County Ladies Auxiliary and New York State Ladies Auxiliary Associations. At Wrights Corners, Sally can be found every week as part of the Thursday night Bingo crew and often supervises and assists in the kitchen for catered events held at the fire hall.
As a celebrated “pink lady” of the Barge Canal Optimist Club in Lockport, the cheerful Sally is a charter member and two-time past president. The Optimist motto is “Friend of Youth” and Sally has been inspiring young people since her kids brought friends home from school. The Oakes household was always a fun and welcoming place to be.
In her bright pink Barge colors, she has served many years on the Board of Directors and held several elected offices as well as being a part of all club activities. For the John Pound School 5th grade basketball team, she coached for eight years and continues to keep score at games every Saturday during the eight week basketball season. As a volunteer at the Barge Canal Just Say No! Program, Girl Power! and the yearly Bike Safety Rodeo, Sally is a familiar face at the Lockport YMCA.
She volunteers in pink at the Tee Off Against Breast Cancer Golf tournament, dons her purple regalia to take part in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and dons the Santa hat and bells to coordinate the Barge Canal Bell Ringers for the annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive.
The many community activities of her Optimist club need funds, and Sally organizes the club’s spring and fall flower sales. During the summer festival months, you’ll find the cheerful septuagenarian selling sno cones from the bright pink barge trailer. For Barge Canal Optimists, Sally does it all.
While keeping busy is important to Sally, helping others is the driving force in her life. As one of the founding members of the local Rainbow of Help, she sports a tie-dyed rainbow shirt and is a regular on Channel 7’s Weather outside with Mike Randall, promoting the group-assisted benefit events.
The Rainbow of Help is a not for profit organization dedicated to helping people with financial hardships due to unforeseen medical situations. The organization was formed in 1999, and membership consists of caring people who have had family or friends impacted by traumatic physical circumstances that required help above and beyond what is normal. For 15 years, Sally and others in the organization have provided step-by-step support and expertise leading up to, and during, fundraisers. Sally is at each event, often seen selling pasta dinner tickets at the door or basket auction tickets inside. Actually, from making coffee to sweeping up, there is nothing that Sally hasn’t done in support of anyone needing a hand.
It’s not all work and no play for Sally. She loves to laugh and has a great sense of humor. Wherever she goes, she brings a uniquely youthful spirit and her trusty black lab, Fanny. The dog has logged thousands of miles with its mistress, as she continues to make the most of every day through her outpouring of enthusiasm and love for her community. For all her efforts, her community certainly loves her in return.