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Art gallery owner who died in motorcycle crash to be missed by customers, friends

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As friends talked about Sally A. Sugrue, they recalled scenes of her pulling up on her motorcycle while wearing leather chaps and a helmet. That image would improve everyone’s mood, they said, because Ms. Sugrue had a rare knack for lighting up every room she entered.

The 66-year-old Rodman resident, who owned Wildflower Gallery and Frame Shop for 26 years, died Friday afternoon in the crash of her 2006 Harley-Davidson in Oneida County. Ms. Sugrue, who was known by her customers for her meticulous skill in framing pictures, had planned to sell her store this fall and retire. The shop opened in 1986 at the Paddock Arcade and since has moved to Watertown Shopping Plaza, 1310 Washington St.

As friends talked about the tragedy, they said the adventurous woman died doing what she loved. Close friend Julie A. Derrigo-Intschert, who played golf with Ms. Sugrue every Tuesday for the past eight years in a league at Watertown Golf Club, said Ms. Sugrue was taking one of her long day trips on her motorcycle Friday to enjoy the unusually nice weather when the accident happened.

“She would often take a day trip and ride 200 to 300 miles on her motorcycle,” said Ms. Derrigo-Intschert, who arranged a memorial outside the art gallery Saturday morning with pictures and flowers after hearing the news. “It was a true hobby, and she died doing one of the many things in her life that she loved. She was a perfectionist in everything she did.”

Ms. Sugrue was a busy bee who wore many hats. Her hobbies included golf, hunting, fishing, attending art shows and buying gifts for her many friends’ birthdays. Appropriately enough, the license plate on her van read “WILD GAL.”

And, as customers at her store will attest, she accepted nothing short of perfection with the artwork she sold.

“Her work was impeccable,” said Lisa M. Pecori, who shared store space with Ms. Sugrue at the Watertown Shopping Plaza for 12 years as the design manager of Sherwood Florist, before the gallery moved to its current spot two years ago. “If there was the tiniest of flaws it didn’t go out for sale — that’s how meticulous she was. A lot of people have her frames in their houses.”

Accompanied by her small terrier named Annie, Ms. Sugrue often surprised her friends when she arrived in the morning with unexpected treats and gifts. When times were stressful during the holiday season, she’d lift everyone’s mood by bringing in pizza or homemade pies.

“She’d go into Rod’s grocery store and buy a Danish strip in the morning, cut it up, drop it off for us and leave,” said Sherwood employee Karen M. Duflo, who described Ms. Sugrue as a “firecracker with everything she did.”

But while she enjoyed masculine sports, Ms. Sugrue also had a classy feminine side. “She was an alpha woman, but she was very feminine at the same time. She loved to shop and was always well-dressed with jewelry,” Mrs. Duflo said.

Ms. Sugrue’s brother, Paul A. Lee, is an acclaimed local artist who sold much of his work at Wildflower Gallery. The siblings shared an affinity for art and outdoor activities.

“We used to go fishing together, and we ordered supplies together at the shop,” Mr. Lee said. “She loved the outdoors and would get up in the morning to watch the animals and trees. She did beautiful work and had a lot of friends.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Sugrue’s friends are tongue-tied when they talk about what they’re going to do without their energetic friend, who managed to care for so many people.

“She had a unique outlook on life that not everyone has,” said Kathie A. Scee, an employee at Big M grocery store in Watertown, whom Ms. Sugrue always greeted with a smile. “She was always smiling and pleasant every time I saw her and seemed to enjoy life.”

A full obituary appears on Page B4.

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