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Sandy Ferland died on December 9, 2012. To her family and friends she was a combination of Donna Reed, Mother Goose and Mother Teresa. Indeed, Sandy's life epitomized Mother Teresa's instruction to "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier." She was born on April 23, 1948 in Elmhurst, Illinois but moved to Scottsdale when she was in the third grade. She graduated from NAU with a double major in special and elementary education. While student teaching she met her future husband, Roger, just before he shipped out to Vietnam. They wrote each other almost every day while he was over there in 1969 and 1970. When he was hit in March 1970 it was Sandy who told his parents he had lost his legs and sustained multiple other injuries. When he returned to the States they became engaged while he was in the hospital in Denver and were married in July 1971. Their romance is described in detail in a story that appeared in this newspaper on Valentine's Day 2007.
While Roger attended law school Sandy taught second grade in rural North Carolina. While there she won Teacher of the Year as well as other honors. As one of her fellow teachers put it, "Sandy didn't 'learn' to teach, she was 'born' to teach."
When they returned to Scottsdale and Roger began his practice, Sandy began to raise their family. They had three daughters of their own, Amanda, Lindsay and Molly and helped raise Lydia and Anita as if they were their own, when their mother died at an very early age.
During the next forty years Sandy not only was a mother to her daughters, all of whom devoted their lives to professions that help others, but became a primary support system for dozens of her friends. They describe her as "a life force"; "the most selfless person I've ever met";a person of "purpose, passion and dedication who brought out the best in everyone she touched"; and an "incredible motivator." Most of all she is remembered as a patient and thoughtful listener. There were many nights when she would listen until two or three in the morning to her friend's and family's problems and help them find solutions. Her husband commented that "for 42 years she always had my back. Everything I have accomplished I owe to her passion, compassion and, when needed, tough love. She gave everything of herself to everyone until her body had nothing left to give."
Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 27, 2013