Published: January 8, 2013
Norma Elizabeth “Sandy” Saunders, of Norwich died December 24 after a short illness. All of those who had the privilege of knowing Sandy will be saddened at the news of her death. At the age of 96 she radiated a zest for life, and she will be dearly missed.
Sandy was born in the small town of Flemington, N.J., on July 29, 1916, to William and Elizabeth Saunders. She also had an older brother, George.
It did not take Sandy long to begin making her mark in the world. While a senior in high school she had the opportunity to serve as “copy girl” at the Hauptmann trial concerning the kidnapping and death of Charles Lindbergh’s son. She enjoyed meeting many famous reporters as they took to her winning ways and warm personality. She had ideas of becoming a journalist, but was persuaded by her school gym teacher to attend New York University in the field of physical education. After teaching two years in Ardsley, N.Y., Sandy became a Long Islander in the Huntington School district, where she remained until retirement. Her teaching career was interrupted when the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II came along. Sandy decided to serve her country and enlisted in the Red Cross, where she was sent to the China, Burma and the India Theater. Her mission was to establish R&R clubs, similar to the USO organizations. The challenging fact was that there were no buildings available. She found local, dilapidated structures and corralled the Army guys, who were able electricians, carpenters and painters, to rehabilitate them. She even recruited an artist from the streets who was anxious to help out, and he became a friend for life.
Following the war, it was back to school again. After many years teaching physical education, Sandy believed it was time for a younger teacher to take over, and she moved on to the guidance department to counsel the students.
Then she made another move when the vice principal position was available, and it was awarded to her. Sandy had the distinction of being the first woman administrator in the school district. The 1,000 seventh, eight and ninth graders loved her.
In those days, many teachers had summer jobs. Sandy was a natural for directing summer camps, which she did for many years. One of the camps was Songadeewin of Keewaydin on Lake Willoughby in Vermont, and that is how she fell in love with Vermont.
Eventually, as senior years were approaching and unionization changed the educational field, an earlier than expected retirement to Vermont seemed like a possible future.
When the idea of collecting and selling antiques crossed Sandy’s mind, an image lit up advising her to “go for it.” She and her friend Faith Boone established Schoolhouse Antiques in Saxtons River, Vt. Those years were filled with wonderful “finds,” sales and many wonderful friendships.
Not long ago, Sandy added her most recent exciting and rewarding experiences to her memory book, leaving a legacy for those to know about her “full life well lived.” May we all try to do the same and remember her that way.
Survivors include a nephew, Jeremy Saunders, and his wife, Judy, of Paxinos, Penn., her friend, Faith Boone, the “other half” of Schoolhouse Antiques, friends Sheila Taraska and Kathleen Peterson and Lucy, her beloved kitty, all of Norwich.
There will be no services for Sandy, but donations in her name may be sent to the Red Cross.