Sandra Hartman died quietly, March 26, 2020, at her home in Elkhart. She had been battling the effects of a stroke from 2 years ago and all the other ailments that inevitably come with age. She often mentioned that the golden years aren’t always so golden.
No one will write a novel, there will not be an anxiously awaited TV mini-series and there will never be a blockbuster movie about Sandra’s life, but Sandra’s life was epic. From being born two months premature and literally thrown out in a bucket as if there were no hope of her survival, to being regarded as incompetent after her first stroke, Sandra’s life was incredible.
As children, her and her sister, Norma Jean (Hennessy) Ramsey, had to take the reins – moving in the middle of the night, wading through flooded streets to and from school, and weeding onions. In high school, Sandra was a drummer in the band, was busy on the stage, worked at the school and local papers, and worked at the Pickwick Theatre in Syracuse. Also, while in high school she took a “job” as a live-in nanny for a family that we all now consider our family. Sandra was like that. She made such good friends they became family.
After school, and after a brief encounter with nurses training, Sandra said a short goodbye to her career in the newspaper business. All in all, she spent nearly six decades working and writing for different newspapers. She headed out to Hawaii. The plan was to visit and bring her beau back for their wedding. Somehow a ceremony in Hawaii won out over a ceremony in Syracuse, and Sandra married dad on Dec. 30, 1957. They lived at Pearl Harbor until they returned to the states to start their family, and oh, what a family. George and Sandy had five children: Stephanie Ann (Randy Penwell), Kimberly Kay (Terry Johnson), Scott Albert, Shawn Edward (Michelle) and Kevin Kenneth (Knitta). Sandra always regarded her children, and bringing them up, as a joy.
Sandra was a girl scout leader, cub scout leader, and a room mother for each of her children. Sandra was always active and proactive in her children’s education. Sandra was secretary of the school PTO, Sunday school teacher, secretary of AARP, as well as the neighborhood snack Sandra. She was the CFO of the Carter finances, as well as for George’s surveying business. Sandra did it all. Then on Dec. 23, 1977, we found out that dad was very sick and had little time left. Sandra stepped up, honored his wishes and took care of him at home until he passed on Feb. 22, 1978. This hit Sandra hard but she again stepped up, took the reins and took control. Sandra could and did do everything.
Two years later she married a man on whom she had a crush as a little girl. She married Walter Earl Hartman on Aug. 22, 1980. Sandra went from being everything about a housewife, Sandra, bread winner to a full time, full blown dairy farm wife. And she never missed a step. After Walter’s retirement, the two of them traveled across the country extensively. From east coast to west coast, north to south. They covered it all. Sandra loved it.
That too would come to an end. In August of 2000, Walter passed away at home with Sandra by his side, respecting his wish of not dying in a facility.
This brought about a new chapter for Sandra. No children at home, no husband at home, and again, she stepped into her role as if it had always been her role. She sent cards, gum, and “picker uppers” to what seemed like everyone. If she knew you or heard that you had been ill or had an accident, you were getting a card from Sandra. Then every year after that, you’d get a card on your birthday. That was Sandra. Even after her “retirement,” she worked at a day care center in Albion. When she moved into Ligonier, she volunteered at a daycare center there. She was active until she couldn’t be active anymore. That was Sandra. Even battling death, she was active.
On second thought, maybe somebody should write a book, create a TV mini-series, and make a movie. After all, there have been countless movies made about far less interesting people with much worse plot lines. If someone did, maybe some people could learn more about responsibility, grace, respect, forgiveness, and love.
Anyone who knew Sandra from her childhood, through school, as a den or room mother, or her first or second marriages, can look back, remember, and agree that “A good time was had by all.”
Preceding Sandra in death, besides her two husbands, George and Walter, were her parents, Arthur and Leonore E (Walburn) De Groff; step son, Harold Hartman; step daughter, Sharon Shively; grandson, SPC Anthony Michael Carter; and her Coy “sisters and brothers:” Gin, Wanda, Betty, Dale, and Marvin.
Survivors include her sister, Norma Jean and her children; Alan (Dawn) Ramsey and their children; Perry (Lori) Ramsey and their children; a “brother,” Don (Kay) McCullough, their children, and their children; all of Sandy’s children and their families and their families; one Coy “sister,” Patty; Sharon’s husband, Larry, their children, and their children; Harold’s wife, Kathy, their children, and their children; and a sister-in-law, Charlene Fry. Sandra’s family is too numerous to number.
Family and friends will gather for a celebration of life service at 3 p.m., Friday, July 3, at Ligonier Christian Church, 9025 N 860 W, Ligonier, IN 46767. Pastor Randy Penwell will officiate. Sandra was laid to rest in Sparta Cemetery on Monday, March 30.