One of Aiken County's most enthusiastic animal advocates died with the arrival of 2020, following decades of support on behalf of shelters around the CSRA.

Anne Sawyer, whose training was primarily as a teacher and librarian, was largely known as the "adopt-a-pet coordinator" in The Star and other local media for her efforts to find homes for shelter pets. She died Thursday and the funeral was Friday.

Elaine van der Linden, founder of the Molly's Militia adoption/rescue organization, recalled, "She was very kind and she loved animals and ... if she saw a stray animal, she would try to help it or call us to try to help it."

Rep. Bill Hixon noted, "She was a great friend and my back-door neighbor. She and her husband, Gene, were always looking to help people – especially an animal, day or night. I'd like to know how many dogs and cats she found a home."

Sawyer's 30-plus years of efforts were largely through local newspapers and TV stations, as she would bring out dogs and cats and encourage adoption from shelters, including the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare and the Aiken County Animal Shelter.

The CSRA, Hixon added, would benefit from "another Anne that lives and loves people and animals with her same passion."

Local news anchor Mary Morrison described Sawyer as "a tireless proponent for animal rights," as shown through Sawyer's efforts for a weekly Wednesday program at noon.

"She made it her job to contact each group and make sure that we had a different guest on each week to bring along a pet. She just had such a love for animals," Morrison said, noting that Sawyer's efforts continued even when she was fighting cancer years ago.

Sawyer was also active with a variety of schools and genealogical/historical societies.