Mary R. Sawyer, a professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University in Ames, who wrote often on Peoples Temple and Jonestown died on May 20, 2015, at Clare House in Dubuque, Iowa. Dr. Sawyer learned about Peoples Temple while working on many of the same issues – especially those concerning black elected officials – in San Francisco during the 1970s. She was an editor of the volume, Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America, published in 2004.
She is greatly missed by colleagues and students alike who were inspired by her passion for justice. She sought a collective movement as her home and might have joined Peoples Temple were it not for its collapse in 1978. She finally found her spiritual home among the Sisters of Saint Francis at Clare House. Rest in peace, dear Mary.