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Sandra M. Henry-Álvarez

1961 - 2019
Sandra M. Henry-Álvarez Obituary
Sandra Margaret Henry-Álvarez, 58, a shining light to all who knew her, departed this earth on Saturday, Oct 5, 2019 at the Sawtelle Hospice Home in Reading, MA. Sandra was born in Port Huron, MI on Oct 2, 1961 to Harvey Josiah Henry of Port Huron, MI and Maria del Carmen ("Nina") Álvarez of Madrid, Spain. Her family moved to Puerto Rico when she was four, then to Mexico City at six, and she remained there until finishing high school in 1979. Though a native speaker of both English and Spanish, Sandra had loved her studies of French and spent nine months studying at Aix-En-Provence in France before returning to the US to attend the University of Texas at Austin. Sandra completed a BA in Education with a double major in Spanish and French in 1983. She spent two years teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in Bogota, Columbia, then returned to the University of Texas for a Masters in Library Science. In 1997 she married Paul Rutz, a computer programmer from Austin. The newlyweds soon moved to Barcelona, Spain, where Sandra had accepted the position of head librarian at an American cultural institute. The happy couple remained there for seven years, during which time Sandra earned a Professional Certificate in Management from the Open University in England and became fluent in Catalan, her fourth language. Paul's job moved the couple to Wakefield, MA in 2005. Sandra found work at the Melrose Public Library in Melrose, MA. As reference librarian and youth librarian, she became well-known and well-loved in the Melrose community for her dedication, cheerfulness, and willingness to help. She was also active in the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church, teaching Religious Education classes to middle schoolers. In 2011, at age 50, Sandra enrolled in the Boston University Interpreter Program to become trained as a Spanish interpreter. Upon completion of the 18-month program, she began freelance interpreting in hospitals, schools, and community organizations. Further studies led to state certification as a court interpreter and she worked in many state courts in the greater Boston area. She was greatly respected in the interpreting community and her services were highly in demand. Sandra joined the faculty of the Boston University Interpreter Program in January 2018. This was her dream job, combining her linguistic skills, her love of teaching, and her deep desire to help others. In December 2018, Sandra became ill and blood tests revealed an aggressive form of lymphoma. She battled fearlessly through chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments for the next nine months. Sandra adopted a line from Shakespeare, "though she be but little, she is fierce" and her friends lovingly nicknamed her Little But Fierce. Throughout her long ordeal, Sandra remained a marvel of optimism, joy, and love. She had a smile and a kind word for all. Sandra will be remembered most for her great heart and determination, her unflagging good will and cheer, and her love of others. Sandra delighted in preparing favorite foods from around the world. She practiced yoga and took great pleasure in acupuncture, massage therapy, and aromatherapy. Sandra loved great literature, foreign and independent films, fine art and classical music. She enjoyed frequent walks in Breakheart Reservation and took particular joy in walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain over the course of several years. Above all, Sandra cherished time with her beloved family and friends. All her life, she made regular visits to her mother's family in Madrid where she treasured her time with grandparents Julio (died 1983) and Felicidad (died 1985); Uncle Luis, Aunt Queca and cousins Susana, Alicia, Sonia and Constantino; Aunt Ana Maria (died 2012), Uncle Jaime (died 2018) and cousins Ana and Pilar; Uncle Tito (died 1990); Aunt Feli, Uncle Eloy and cousins Araceli, Alberto (died 2018) and Cristina; Aunt Merce, Uncle Jaime and cousins Merce and Marivi; Aunt Tere, Uncle Arturo and cousins Arturo and Carlos; Aunt Pili, Uncle Kenneth and cousins Kelly and Natalie; "Cousin" Raquel and daughters Julia and Raquel; and numerous children of her dear cousins. Sandra is lovingly remembered by her husband of 22 years, Paul Rutz of Stoneham, MA; sister Raquel Henry and husband Richard Wall of Houston, TX; brother Edward Henry of Colorado Springs, CO; many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins from her mother's family in Madrid, Spain and father's family in Port Huron, MI; father-in-law Harold Rutz of Austin, TX; sister-in-law Faith Kelley and husband David Kelley of Austin,TX; sister-in-law Hope Bartolotta, husband Peter Bartolotta, and their children Joy, Pierce, Eden, and Asher, all of Austin, TX; and by her many friends. Sandra was preceded in death by her parents, Harvey Henry and Maria Del Carmen Álvarez; by mother-in-law Viola Larkin Rutz and nephew Matthew Wayne Kelley, both of Austin, TX. A Celebration of Life service will be held at the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, Nov 2 at 11am. Friends and family are invited to share memories of Sandra during the service and remain afterwards for a light lunch.
Published in The Melrose Free Press from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24, 2019
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