Sandra Stafford
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Sandra Stafford
  • March 9, 1934 - January 25, 2017
  • Huntsville, Alabama

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Sandy Stafford



Sandra El Rowe was born to El (nee: Härms) and Don Rowe in Indianapolis, Indiana on 9 March 1934. Young Sandy was a very quiet girl who loved to read. She was often immersed in a book or alternately lost in inventive stories with an extensive collection of paper dolls. Shirley Temple and Fred Astaire dolls were special favorites. She was also immersed in her church. It was in these early years that Sandy embraced the cherished music and liturgies of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Her early religious experiences shaped her spiritual journey and remained a source of strength for the remainder of her life.



As a girl, Sandy idolized her father, Don, a gregarious man with a special charm, a legendary sense of humor and an infectious laugh that made him a favorite at church gatherings and in community clubs. Don held a variety of jobs over his working career, always in positions where he could interact with his fellow man.



As much as she adored her Dad, Sandy was equally awed by El’s tremendous work ethic and perseverance. El became an extraordinarily capable saleswoman, earning “best-in-city” honors and once selling an entire bedroom suit to a man who had only come into the store to use the phone!



Sandy also loved her two younger sisters. Connie, beautiful and brilliant, and Suzie – the youngest – known for being vivacious and playful. The three Rowe girls were each unique in their attributes and talents but all shared their parents’ Midwestern values which included faith, family and an appreciation for hard work and learning.



After high school, Sandy entered Ball State University. Ostensibly there to earn her BA to become a teacher but, as she later told friends and family, equally eyeful of earning her “MRS!” She wanted to be married with a family of her own. She recalled that she was only a fair student at this point in time, preoccupied as she was with her search for a husband but also heavily involved with the student dramatic league. She won rave reviews for even bit parts in school plays and was considered something of a comedienne by her classmates.



In college, she met handsome Randy Stafford, an upperclassman studying Chemistry on the G.I. Bill. Randy was the son of Erna (nee: Fiel) and Lawrence Booram of Anderson, Indiana. Randy had returned from World War II deeply affected by his wartime experience in the Philippines. He stood out from the other young men at college in that he was quiet and to Sandy, seemed somewhat mysterious. She later recalled that he was far more mature and seemed capable of handling virtually any situation. She was attracted to this inner strength and he to her wit and beauty. The two were married in 1953.



The family grew quickly through the 1950s with Mark Lawrence being born in 1954, Paul Rowe born in 1955 and Matthew Carl born in 1958. The family followed Randy in his career, moving from the RCA plant in Marion, Indiana to the Hamilton-Standard plan in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and finally to Hayes International in Huntsville, Alabama in 1966. Randy loved working in the space industry and eventually supported metallurgical projects in the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo programs for Boeing. Despite the many changes, church remained a constant in the Stafford family’s life with Sandy often teaching Sunday and Vacation Bible School, and writing for church newsletters and bulletins.



As the three sons grew and Sandy had more time on her hands, she decided first to try working in the public schools but then felt a calling to become a nurse. She graduated from a two-year technical school as a Licensed Practical Nurse but almost immediately realized that to achieve her personal goals, she would need additional schooling. She went back to school, earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Now a serious student, she earned academic awards and graduated with honors. Sandy became a Registered Nurse and ultimately the shift head nurse in the Psychiatric Clinic, a job she relished.



After retiring from nursing, Sandy expanded her volunteer work at her church, teaching Women’s Bible Study, organizing social and spiritual events, serving in the Lutheran Women’s and creating opportunities for learning and fun for the congregation’s children. She remained a committed volunteer, teaching regularly for the remainder of her life.



Randy preceded Sandy in death in 1994. She is survived by Connie and her five children, Stacey, Lori, Amy, Jay and Chris and by Suzie and her two daughters, Marjorie and Karen; her three sons Mark and his daughter Rachel, Paul, and Matthew and his wife Jacqueline with their five children William, Charles, Brandon, Jennifer and Jasmin. In addition to the six grandchildren, Sandy leaves behind six great-grandchildren, a vast network of fast friends and, of course, her family in Christ at Ascension Lutheran Church led by her dear friend, Pastor Bernie Ansorge. Together, her family and friends mourn the loss of their sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend and teacher but rejoice at her entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.