Sara L. Lowman, 81, of Cherry Hill, a longtime Philadelphia teacher and high school principal, died Oct. 16 of lung cancer at her home.

In preparing for death, she was organized and in control — qualities she had exemplified throughout her life, said her niece Tonja Lowe, whom Lowman helped raise.

Lowman not only planned her funeral, but she also wrote her own obituary, which her niece, Tonja Lowe, shared with The Inquirer.

It tells Lowman’s life story, from her birth in Columbia, S.C., to her esteemed career in the School District of Philadelphia to her valiant battles with various forms of cancer later in life, battles that Lowe said Lowman entered with unwavering positivity.

“She never said, ‘Why me?’" Lowe said. “She always said, ‘I pray to God he won’t let me suffer.’”

As a girl in Columbia, Lowman was a proud product of public schools. So it only made sense that after graduating with a business education degree from Benedict College, a historically black college in Columbia, and then with a master’s degree in educational administration from Temple University, Lowman would dedicate her life to work in the public schools.

She began a 37-year career in the Philadelphia School District as a business teacher at the now-closed Norris S. Barratt Junior High School, and later served as vice principal of three high schools: Lincoln, South Philadelphia, and Northeast. She was the director of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools until her retirement in 2001.

Outside of work, she loved to travel, having visited many places throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Mexico, Central America, and Europe. A year before her death, she took a cruise on the Blue Danube river, visiting Budapest, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Austria along the way.

At the time, Lowman told her oncologist she’d be ready to undergo lung cancer treatment once she returned from the vacation, Lowe said.

A longtime member of the Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church in Camden, Lowman had a strong religious faith that inspired others, Lowe said.

She loved to socialize and give back to others in her community. She served on several ministries at her church, and regularly met with her beloved bridge and book clubs. She was a member of the Rancocas Valley Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a service sorority, and of the South Jersey Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, an organization that works to mentor and provide opportunities for young African Americans.

Although she never married or had children of her own, Lowman loved people, serving as a mother figure to many of her younger relatives, Lowe said.

Lowman lived by the motto: “If I can help somebody, my living has not been in vain."

And she helped many, Lowe said.

Lowman is survived two brothers, Walter Myers and Alonzo LeFlore; and three sisters, Carolyn Cabral, Patsy LeFlore, and Angela Ivery.

A memorial service will be held Nov. 2 at Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church, 831 Kaighn Ave., Camden, with the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Omega Omega ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. followed by the service.

The family asks that donations be made in Lowman’s memory to Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church’s scholarship fund.

This obituary has been changed since it was first published to reflect that Ms. Lowman was a vice principal, not a principal, at three Philadelphia high schools: Lincoln, South Philadelphia, and Northeast.