Sandra Elizabeth Mead was born at home on September 28, 1939 and passed away on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019. She was 79.5 years old.
Sandra was a hard-working, pensive and sensitive woman who was truly self-actualized. She gave up trying to please the world with her foibles long ago to be herself as she defined it.
She was born to Bette and Max Williams on 21st Street in Erie, PA. She grew up with a sister Heidi and brothers David and Timothy on pastoral Pine Avenue. The children loved to visit their grandparents at their Bennett Road farm where Sandra was especially fond of Grandma Williams (Sarah). The farm was situated very near the Wales Church where Sandra will be buried and where she was especially drawn to Creekside wildflowers.
The Williams family didn’t have much money, but Max and Bette always made things work and everyone in the family contributed. Sandra was a cashier at the grocery store on 38th and Pine Avenue. She modeled for the Boston Store, played the organ at Saint Luke’s Church and taught French at Villa Maria grade school.
As a young girl, Sandra attended Holy Rosary grade school. Her studiousness paid off when she won scholarships to both Villa Maria High School and Villa Maria College where she earned a BA in 1961.
She met and married Francis Patrick Mead on September 9, 1961 moving almost immediately to Barksdale Airforce Base in LA. She had many fond memories of those few years – picking pecans, travelling to Texas and starting a family with the birth of Chris.
The years after Louisiana brought Karen and then Eric. These years were spent mothering in the traditional fashion and a move to Lucky Lane in Millcreek. Frank and Sandra divorced in 1980; Frank died at 55 in 1992.
Sandra wasn’t the typical suburban housewife. Once her children were otherwise engaged, she worked as Director of Counseling Services for Women, Villa Maria College (1972-1981) while simultaneously achieving her master’s degree at Gannon University (1978). During this time, she ran numerous personal life-skill workshops for individuals and groups. She earned certification from the Gestalt Institute in 1989.
In 1975 she published an article A Case for the Middle-Class Woman in the Journal of American Personnel and Guidance.
She worked as a Therapist in private practice from 1981-2011. She was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) with emphasis on Clinical Psychology in August 1995 from the Fielding Graduate University which offered maximum flexibility through an innovative and unique blend of online study and in-person peer work groups.
Sandra retired her Psychotherapist practice in 2011 after years of pricing her services low enough so “Anyone who wanted to work with me could afford it”.
By all accounts Sandra was a gifted therapist; secretive to a fault and suffered from absorbing the angst & sorrow of her patients. This made Sandra a private person who loved her sanctuaries at home and Marthas Vineyard vacations.
She loved science and was a lifelong Trekkie. She made sure her children watched the first moon landing in 1969. She was the first person we knew to talk about Yahoo then Google. What a geek! Her PC was a lifeline but was never ‘as easy as the telephone’ to use.
Away from academia, Sandra played piano, tennis, took walks, rode bicycles and loved being in the structured outdoors. She approached everything with deliberate grace that made her less-than-aggressive in most things. Yet, she loved watching bull riding.
The piano was one constant in Sandra’s world. She was an accomplished pianist who stretched her skills later in life by writing music.
Her life experience and beliefs passed directly to her children who were encouraged to be individuals, stretch boundaries and revel in the arts and sciences.
Her passion and insight made her children who they are today. She insisted on each picking a religion (whatever that would be); learn a musical instrument and learn how to swim. It was important to her that her children chose for themselves but always had a plan.
In 2011 Sandra was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and suffered from Spinal Stenosis and advanced osteoporosis. Ever the early adopter she travelled to Cleveland and received experimental treatment for bone loss which halted its progression.
In recent years Sandra continued to play the piano, began painting in her unique style (she even won an award in the ICA Senior Art Show), enjoyed fluffing the flowers and continued to try to be outdoors as much as possible.
Sandra is survived by her daughter Karen Mead (Randy Donn), sons Chris Mead (Traci) and Eric Mead (Cathy Dang); grandchildren Morgan Donn, Sierra Donn, Brianne Lockwood and Carly Lockwood; and co-grandparents Julie and Albert Rekitt. She is further survived by a brother, David Williams (Peggie) of Pittsburgh and a sister, Heidi McCloskey of Connecticut. Her youngest brother, Tim, died in 2012.
Sandra has many nieces and nephews including Keith Williams (Denise) with children Talulah and Collin, John Williams, Colleen Vyas (Amit) with child Kayalana, David Jr., Michael McCloskey (Julia), Molly (Matt) Györog with children Catalina and Anastasia.
Special thanks to Cindy Scott and the aides and staff at Saint Mary’s Asbury Ridge.
Sandra was her own unique person proud of her achievements and children. She was gentle and will be missed.
Memorials can be made to Parkinson Partners of NWPA (ParkinsonPartners.org), PO Box 10547, Erie, PA 16514.