Tulsa native Sarah Shayne raised three children, Reva, Rusty, and Roxie, alone after her husband, Hawk, abandoned the family. To support her children, Sarah worked as a housekeeper to the wealthy Lewis family. By 1987, all of Sarah’s children, as well as members of the Lewis family, had moved to the town of Springfield in Illinois Upon learning that Reva was pregnant, Sarah moved there to help take care of her. Also in town was Hawk, who’d slowly started to rebuild a relationship with his children. In 1988, Sarah was heartbroken when Roxie suffered a nervous breakdown and sent to a mental hospital. Concern over Roxie bonded Sarah and Hawk even further and later that year, Hawk realized his feelings for Sarah were stronger than he had thought and he convinced Sarah that he finally had his life together.
In April 1989, Hawk and Sarah remarried in a small double ceremony with Rusty and Rose. A few months later, the entire Shayne and Lewis families were on hand when Reva finally married her childhood sweetheart, Josh Lewis. Not long after, Hawk and Sarah both began managing Company, the town’s Boarding House. Meanwhile, Reva was plagued by memories of her first child. When she was 16, Reva had given birth to baby boy whom she had put up for adoption. Sarah had been by her side during the painful period of her life. When Sarah first met a troubled teen named Dylan with whom Reva had befriended despite some initial antipathy toward each other, she suspected he was Reva's son. Sensing that Reva's guilt was causing a rift between her and Josh, Sarah urged Reva to tell Josh the truth. Reva though chose to forgo her mother’s advice and instead told Josh that she’d been raped at the age of 16. Later, Sarah found an old blanket among Dylan’s things since Dylan was staying at Company. Recognizing the blanket as the one she’d made for her first grandchild, Sarah had plans to tell Reva about Dylan but changed her mind when Reva's recurring heart condition flared up under the pressure. It didn’t take long for the truth to come though—Dylan was Reva’s child with none other than Billy Lewis! Dylan was warmly welcomed by the Shayne and Lewis families.
In 1990, Reva gave birth to her third child. Unfortunately, she ended up with a severe case of depression and ended up driving her car off a bridge. The body was never recovered and the following year, Billy and Sarah spotted a woman who looked exactly like Reva on a TV show taped in Italy. Hoping against hope, Josh moved there to search for Reva and later asked Sarah to follow him to take care of Marah and Shayne. Hawk then led a secluded life by running Company and, in 1992, he followed the group to Italy.
In 1995, Sarah threw Hawk out after he lost all their money at poker games. At that point, Hawk learned that Josh (who’d returned to Springfield) was planning on having Reva declared legally dead and rushed to stop him. That same year it turned out that Reva was indeed alive and suffering from amnesia. In time, Reva’s memory returned and she reunited with her children. In late 1996, the Shaynes received word that Sarah was sick and in the hospital. Hawk, Rusty, Josh, Reva, and her new husband, Buzz, rushed to Sarah’s bedside in Italy. Unfortunately, at this point, Sarah was dying since she waited too long to get help and the infection had spread too far for the doctors to do anything for her. Hawk apologized to Sarah for what a miserable husband and father he was and told her that he loved her. Sarah said that she knew that and loved him too in spite of himself. Before Sarah died, she made Hawk promise that he would look after the children, especially Reva. She then confessed to Reva her darkest secret: after Hawk abandoned the family years earlier, she had an affair with a businessman from Chicago which resulted in her giving birth to a child. Ashamed, she placed the child up for adoption. Deeply concerned about what sort of life her baby had, she asked Reva to find her. She admitted that Hawk didn't know about any of this, since Sarah was afraid that he would have left her if he would have known the truth. Finally, before she died, Sarah encouraged Josh not to give up on Reva. Although the family expected to bring the down-to-earth Sarah’s body back to Tulsa, they were surprised to learn of her wish to be buried in Italy. Months later, Reva would indeed find Sarah’s youngest child—Cassie Layne.
In 1999, Sarah’s words to Josh turned out to be correct when the couple married again. As the couple planned their honeymoon, Josh mentioned the island San Cristobel which seemed eerily familiar to Reva. Josh later surprised Reva with a letter from Sarah that had been lost in the mail. In it, Sarah spoke of how her dream was to be at Josh and Reva's second wedding. Josh assured Reva that Sarah would be at their wedding in spirit. While looking at a newspaper, Reva saw a picture of a ring very similar to hers with the symbol for San Cristobel on it. She figured it was Sarah's way of telling her that San Cristobel should be their honeymoon spot and Josh agreed.
In 2006, Sarah paid an other-worldly trip to her daughters, who were both in need of guidance. At that point, Reva was diagnosed with cancer but fear caused her to refuse treatment. A very direct Sarah brow-beated Reva into finally facing reality instead of running away. Sarah then turned her attention to Cassie, who was having issues with her former lover, Jeffrey, as well as her own daughter. Sarah told her Cassie that she had to let go and let both of them live their own lives.
Sarah Shayne was a far more complicated woman than anyone, including her family, gave her credit for. To those who knew her, Sarah appeared stern, serious and virtuous. However, her one indiscretion and her wish to be buried in Italy showed another side to her. Though not given to flights of fancy, Sarah nonetheless had a "sixth sense" and would sometimes help the police in Tulsa find missing persons. Sarah Shayne was strong-minded woman with a heart of gold. To those who remember her, she is greatly missed.