Elizabeth A. Kubica
Elizabeth A. Kubica
  • January 17, 1932 - June 23, 2017
  • California

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Elizabeth Ann "Sandy" Sanford Kubica passed away peacefully in her sleep on June 23, 2017, at home in Salinas, CA, at the age of 85. She had been in robust health for most of her life, so it was a surprise when she was diagnosed with a malignant cancer near the end of April. She experienced no pain or symptoms. A hospital visit due to a fall uncovered the tumors and a prognosis of just weeks or months to live. Fortunately, she remained pain-free, cheerful, and engaged with loved ones until her last day. She was loving, witty and sweet throughout it all, as she was visited by a steady flow of friends and family for the two months prior to her passing. She was surrounded by love.

Born on January 17, 1932, in Schenectady, New York, as the eldest child of Leonard and Vivian Sanford, Elizabeth Ann Sanford was named for her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth "Libby" LeClaire Mongeon, who had died before Sandy's birth. Sandy had two younger brothers: Jim, born January 10, 1934, and Dick, born January 13, 1935. All three siblings shared the same birth week! Her father, Leonard, was a New York Telephone Company repairman. Her mother, Vivian, graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in economics, which served their family well in weathering the Depression.

Vivian taught Sandy to be kind and generous, to share what she had; it was said they had an "easy mark" on their house, as all of the hobos knew they could come to the kitchen door and would be given something to eat. Sandy learned to be frugal, such as going to the butcher and getting the bones and cuts of meat that might otherwise be thrown away, and yet always making sure the family had enough food to share with those in need. Through careful budgeting, Vivian always managed to have enough money left over to go to the cinema for a date nigh with Leonard at the end of the week; this taught Sandy to be frugal, but to have enough left over for some fun. When Sandy was young, Vivian encouraged her to have compassion for a new family in the neighborhood that had escaped Nazi Germany; thus Sandy's best friend became a redheaded Jewish immigrant, Ursula Simon. Sandy started babysitting at a young age, which helped her fund her adventures with Ursula, such as horseback riding and skiing. Sandy bought an old pair of skis from a neighbor, and she learned how to ski during a high school trip, forging her love for the sport far before it was popular. She was on her high school basketball and softball teams, always athletic and keeping moving. Her least favorite subject at Mont Pleasant High School was Latin, which her mother insisted upon, as Sandy had wanted to take French, due to her French-Canadian family; however, the Latin served her well as the foundation for the medical terms used in her chosen profession of nursing.

Always smart and a hard-worker, Sandy earned her nursing degree on a full scholarship from State University of New York, Plattsburgh, in 1953, which was then called New York State Teachers College, Plattsburgh. Known as "Betty Ann" as a child, she adopted the nickname "Sandy" when four other girls in her dorm were also named Betty; to keep the confusion down, they took nicknames based on their last names. She kept the nickname after she met a young man named Andy; "Andy and Sandy" was just too cute! The couple met during Sandy's junior year of college when she was doing her nursing rotation at a hospital where she befriended a woman who became the roommate of Julia Kubica, Andy's mother. Julia was a romantic and approved of the young couple in love. Sandy's mother insisted that she finish her degree before getting married. Sandy graduated in June of 1953, and was married to Andrew Kubica on July 18, 1953, at St. Luke's Church, Schenectady, New York. The reception was held at the GE Women's Club, with the food inside and the reception on the lawn on a day when it was 90 degrees and 90% humidity. As Sandy said, "We were dying from the heat!" The party then moved back to the Sanford's house, where the couple departed, after which someone brought a keg of beer and the party continued! They even invited the postman to join in as he delivered the Saturday mail!

The couple honeymooned in Maine, where they rented a cottage. It was supposed to be a two week honeymoon, but after a week, Andy, who had been laid off by GE shortly before the wedding, called in and learned he had an interview in Baltimore, Maryland. Always one to rise to the occasion and be flexible, Sandy drove Andy to the Boston airport in his 1951 Mercury four-door sedan which he'd been given by his father when he graduated from Syracuse University. Sandy called her maid of honor, Frances Halihand, whose family had a camp and cottage on a lake nearby in Litchfield, Connecticut, and stayed with them until Andy returned. The couple's first "home" was a camp on the Hudson River, just beyond Corinth. When they arrived, the kitchen was full of leaves and the water leaked when the faucet was turned on. As always, Sandy made the best of a bad situation and considered it just the first of many adventures she'd have in her marriage to Andy.

Andy and Sandy moved around the country as Andy's work as an aerospace engineer during the Space Race dictated. They spent a stint in Seattle, Washington, where the damp climate gave Sandy such bad bronchitis that Andy insisted on taking her back to New York "before he had to take her home in a pine box." In 1955, they settled in Buffalo, New York, where they successively had their first three daughters: Kathy, Judy, and Susan. In