Sara-Ann Abelson
December 23, 2023

Visitation Information

December 28 2023 - 10:00 am
Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., 5509 Centre Avenue (Shadyside), Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Funeral Information

December 28 2023 - 11:00 am
Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., 5509 Centre Avenue (Shadyside), Pittsburgh, PA 15232

SARA-ANN "SALLIE" KOCHIN ABELSON: Sara-Ann "Sallie" Kochin Abelson of Richmond, Virginia, passed away peacefully on December 23, 2023 in the company of her sons, Michael and David Abelson.

Sallie was born on August 23, 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Milton "Mike" and Phyllis Kochin. She graduated from Haverford High School in 1963, then went on to the University of Michigan, where she earned her bachelor's degree. She later completed a Master's in counseling at Pennsylvania State University. 

Sallie had a rare knack for combining a deep commitment to Jewish education and culture with an incredible creative and entrepreneurial spirit. In 1978 she founded and ran the successful business, "Contemporary Designs," the first product of which was a highly successful Jewish trivia board game called "Aliyah." Over the years, "Contemporary Designs," expanded by selling Jewish-themed and general market greeting cards, and much more. Eventually, the business grew to include gift and novelty items, t-shirts and sweatshirts, pencils, greeting cards, stationary, jigsaw puzzles, and books.

She later worked as Director of Development for Hillel at the University of Michigan, her beloved alma mater. She was very proud to organize and support programs and events for the Jewish students attending the university. She was widely admired for her ability to organize parties and she was particularly happy to organize bar mitzvah parties for sons, birthday parties for her mother and herself, as well as gatherings for her cherished cousins. 

She was very active in the Democratic Party. She was invited to the Clinton White House for her outstanding work raising funds for a women candidate for Congress. She was welcomed to "Iowa Day" at the White House by Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Senator Tom Harkin. 

She loved the arts, especially film, theater and music. She was also a proud breast cancer survivor. 

Sallie will be remembered by her family and expansive network of friends around the world for her incredible generosity, enthusiasm, and creativity. 

Sallie is survived by her brother Levis Kochin (Rochelle); sons Michael (Samantha Kirsch) and David; her grandchildren, Alex and Thea Abelson; as well as many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

Services at Ralph Schugar Chapel Inc., 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside on Thursday, December 28, 2023 at 11 AM. Visitation one hour prior to services (10 AM to 11 AM). Interment Tiphereth Israel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make a gift in her honor to a Hillel ( or an arts organization of your choice.


Send Condolence

My condolences to your entire family. What a gift it was to have known Sallie! Her joy and positivity was infectious! She loved the big picture work of supporting students through her development efforts, as well as the direct impact of sitting with a student to offer career advice, help them develop phonathon skills, or give them opportunities to grow as a leader. She carried so much pride in how her student leaders and former staff continued to succeed and stay connected to Jewish life. Her kindness and generosity was always felt! May her memory be a blessing.

By Tilly Shemer (nee Shames) - December 28, 2023