Sally C Vilas

Sally Couch Vilas died on January 8, 2023 in Chapel Hill, NC.  She was 91.  Born February 4, 1931 to Else Ruprecht Couch and John Nathaniel Couch, Sally grew up in Chapel Hill.  She is predeceased by her husband Harry Gooder, her parents, and her brother John Philip Couch.

Sally attended Salem Academy and maintained relationships and support for the school for many decades.  While attending Duke University, Sally met and married John M. Vilas.  When living in New York State, her aptitude and passion for painting and printmaking developed through the Art Students League of New York.  After they moved back to Chapel Hill with young children, Sally returned to school and completed her undergraduate work and received a master’s degree in fine arts at UNC-CH in the early 1970s.  She taught painting and drawing courses at Meredith College and Peace College in Raleigh. 

Sally married Harry Gooder, bacteriologist and professor at UNC in 1979.  Through Harry’s academic affiliations, and their shared interest and curiosity, they were fortunate to be able to travel, including living in Alexandria, Egypt for months.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden drew Sally’s interest with the project to move and restore the Paul Green Cabin.  Sally spent many years volunteering and serving on the Botanical Garden Foundation Board, including two terms as President of the Board.  Sally remained committed to and involved in the mission of the Botanical Garden. 

Sally and Harry resided at Carol Woods Retirement Community since 2002Her family gratefully acknowledges the vibrancy, care, and support of the Carol Woods community.

Sally is survived by her children: Catherine Vilas Stanford, husband E. Ray Stanford (Atlanta), and children Diana C. Stanford and John E. Stanford.  Mary Coker Vilas (Raleigh) and son John T. Paton.  John Couch Vilas, wife Susan Hudson (Chesterfield, UK), children Robert Jackson Vilas and Elizabeth R. Vilas, and stepchildren Nicolas Hernandez and Liza H. Wills.  Stepdaughter Caroline M. Gooder of Charlotte. She is predeceased by stepdaughter Patricia Fleishman-Gooder, and survived by son-in-law Lawrence Fleishman, and their children, Benjamin Fleishman, Alyssa Fleishman (great granddaughter Kaya), and Suzanne Fleishman.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Sally’s memory would be appreciated to the N.C. Botanical Garden Foundation, Campus Box 3375, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3375.

Arrangements with Walkers Funeral.  Graveside Burial Service is 2:00 pm, January 20 at the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, followed by a reception at The Chapel of the Cross on Franklin Street.