Sibyl Strauss Saam passed away on August 24, 2023 at the age of 95. Born Gabriele Sibylle Strauss to Max and Gertrud Strauss on March 15, 1928 in Germany, she has lived in Santa Fe since 1969.
Sibyl and her younger sister Dorothy enjoyed a tranquil early childhood in the southern German city of Stuttgart. Writing in a notebook at the time, Max described two-year-old Sibyl as, “a quiet child, thoughtful and anxious to keep herself and her clothes clean; eating and drinking are a bother to her.”
The girls’ childhood was upended by the Nazi Party’s rise to power in the early 1930s. Alarmed by Germany’s growing climate of antisemitism, Max and Gertrud considered emigrating as early as 1933. By late 1936 they concluded that, for their daughters’ safety, it was time to leave. In April of the following year, Max sailed to New York to secure employment and a home. At the invitation of friends living in Kansas City, he settled there in July 1937. Gertrud and the girls sailed to New York two months later, then traveled to Kansas City by train where, dressed in matching beige gabardine coats, Sibyl and Dorothy were reunited with their father.
Sibyl developed an early passion and talent for creating art. She studied drawing and painting at Rockford College, one of the nation’s earliest academic institutions exclusively for women. After earning her degree Sibyl became a staff illustrator for Hallmark Cards, but also began to establish a reputation as an accomplished artist of oil paintings.
In 1949 Sibyl married Kansas City native Harold Price, and together they raised three sons: Stephen (born 1951), Robert (1955), and Charles (1956). Following a divorce, in 1969 Sibyl met and married Robert Saam, an English and drama teacher at the Santa Fe Prep School. Over the following four decades Sibyl’s art ranged from Neoexpressionist oil paintings in a style recalling Fauvism, to Conceptual and Minimalist paper constructions. Her work was shown at multiple galleries, including the Taylor Gallery (Taos) and the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery (Santa Fe).
Following her husband’s death in 2007, Sibyl moved to the El Castillo Life Plan Community in downtown Santa Fe. There she traded her brushes for a keyboard and wrote two books of semi autobiographical fiction: “Be My Enemy” (published 2014) and “Days of August” (2017).
Sibyl had a deep appreciation for artistic expression in any form. She was a voracious reader and theatergoer. She was a lover of opera, poetry, and classical music. She attended countless gallery openings in support of her fellow artists. She was loved by, and an inspiration to, all who knew her.
Sibyl is preceded in death by her parents Max and Gertrud Strauss, her sister Dorothy Tucker, her husband Robert Saam, and her close companion in recent years, Ossy Werner. She is survived by her eldest son Steve Price and his wife Sandy, her second son Rob Price and his wife Linda Bradford, her youngest son Chuck Price and his wife Maria, as well as six grandchildren (Garret and Janeesa Price, Brian and Amy Price, Benjamin Price, Lili Price) and four great-grandchildren (Everett, Max, Rocky, Milo).
A private celebration of Sibyl’s life will be held for family members and close friends at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that charitable contributions in Sibyl’s name be made to Doctors Without Borders (https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/).