Sally Lowery died peacefully on July 9, 2021 at the age 88 at her home in Moraga, California. To
her husband of 67 years, Bill, her four sons, 13 grandchildren and many friends, Sally will be
remembered for her kindness, curiosity, graciousness and irreverent sense of humor. But
above all, for her smile; there was really nothing like it. She loved to have fun, had a great
sense of adventure, and being around her always left you feeling better.
Sally Teresa Diefenderfer was born on December 17, 1932 in San Francisco to George and
Margaret (McGrath) Diefenderfer. Margaret and George’s marriage was short-lived, and Sally
spent her early childhood living in various remote California locations where her mother taught
elementary school and music. They eventually found their home in La Grange, California after
her mother married Joe Rosasco, a cattle rancher whose family had settled in the area in the
mid-1800s. It was here that Sally learned to ride and appreciate the beauty and solitude of the
outdoors along with her sisters Nona, Louise and Robyn. Seeking a better high school
education than LaGrange could offer, Sally moved to San Francisco to attend Saint Rose
Academy, where she lived with her mother’s sister Francis O’Brien Baxter and her husband
Terrence Baxter. She attended Modesto Junior College and graduated from the University of
Southern California in 1954 where she was a Kappa Alpha Theta. It was while attending
Modesto Junior College that she met and fell in love with William E Lowery (Bill); Sally and Bill
married in October, 1954. After a honeymoon trip through the southern States, the newlyweds
settled in Fort Benning, Georgia where Bill was stationed as an Army medic. Sally had her first
baby 12 months after tying the knot and, against the advice of her doctors, had three more
over the next nine years. After a few stops including Midland, Michigan and Costa Mesa,
California, the family eventually settled in Orinda, California in 1963.
In Orinda, Sally was in her element. As Bill traveled extensively for work, Sally took on most of
the responsibilities of raising four boys while actively participating in social and philanthropic
activities and becoming an integral part of the larger Orinda community. She was a loving
mother to her sons as well as the adopted mom to a cast of young characters who cycled in and
out of 4 Via Callados over the years. Sally always went out of her way to make others feel
comfortable, and she was genuinely interested in talking about almost anything with anyone.
She was beautiful inside and out, humble and gracious. She always encouraged the boys to
embark on new adventures and revelled along with them and their friends in their recounting.
And whether scaring off older bullies, calming overexcited parents, or running interference
from local law enforcement, her support for her children was unwavering.
Sally had many interests, which she pursued with joy and gusto. She loved music, learned to
play guitar in her 30’s, and eagerly contributed her beautiful soprano voice to the Orinda
Women’s Choral. Her great affinity for animals, especially birds, inspired her to work as a
docent for the Alexander Lindsay Jr Museum for many years. She and Bill shared a love for the
outdoors and athletics, a passion they passed on to their children and grandchildren. The
Lowery crew spent many weekends at Tahoe or Monterey, often with friends, and it is easy to
picture Sally skiing down a mogul run at Squaw, running on the beach, or returning a serve on
the Sleepy Hollow tennis court. Sally and Bill traveled extensively around the world, including
trout fishing in Patagonia and skiing in the Italian Alps. As the boys moved on to raise their own
families, Sally and Bill spent much of their time at their mountain house in White Hawk or in
Sally was very proud of her 13 grandchildren and enjoyed playing with them as children
watching them become adults. They considered her, in their own words to be a ‘pioneer’, a
‘queen’ and a ‘storyteller’ who was ‘powerful’, ‘courageous’, ‘witty’, ‘uplifting’, ‘rambunctious’,
‘resilient’, ‘patient’ and ‘inimitable’. She also remained close throughout her life with her
siblings including brothers George and Alex Diefenderfer and sisters Louise Rosasco
Cunningham, Robyn Rosasco Jensen, Lesley Diefenderfer Birch and Gretchen Diefenderfer.
Sally is survived by her husband Bill and sons Billy (Laurie), Bob, Mike (Mary) and J.P. (Priscilla);
daughter-in-law Elizabeth Lowery; her sisters Louise Jones, Lesley Birch and Gretchen
Diefenderfer; grandchildren Gavin Lowery, Connor Lowery, Brenna Lowery, Joe Lowery, Katie
Lowery, Sarah Lowery, Kristen Lowery, Brady Lowery, Molly Lowery, Colby Lowery, Liam
Lowery, Aidan Lowery, and Rowen Lowery, and many nieces, nephews and dear friends in
California and across the United States.
A celebration of Sally’s life will be announced at a later date.
To plant a tree in memory of Sally Theresa Lowery, please click here.