Sandra G. "Sandy" Valdes

sandra valdes

January 11, 1948 ~ March 16, 2022

Born in: Charleston, W. VA.
Resided in: Lawrenceville, GA

Sandra G. Valdes (“Sandy”) passed away on Wednesday March 16, 2022, in Grady Hospital after a brief illness. She was preceded in death by her father (James Herman Gandee), mother (Doris Skeen Gandee), sister (Deanna Gandee Bovaird), and her loving husband of 46 years, Richard Earl Valdes (“Rick”). Sandy is survived by her children, Tina (Lisa), Tara, and Richie (Sarah Beth); grandchildren (Caroline, Norah, and Maggie); brothers-in-law, Jim Valdes (Sherry), Jody Valdes (Peggy) and Vernon Bovaird; many nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of other family members and friends. Sandy was born in Charleston, West Virginia and was raised in the very small town of Kenna. She attended high school in Ripley where she was active in multiple clubs and activities. An expert student seamstress, Sandy represented the 4-H club at national competition her senior year. She attended college at West Virginia Institute of Technology where she met Rick in a college Sunday School class. As they told the story to their children multiple times over the years, it was “love at first sight.” The couple married and moved to Florida where Rick and his family lived. Sandy completed her Bachelor’s degree with a major in Music Education and a minor in Voice from Stetson University. Music was Sandy’s joy and passion. She was a music teacher by trade. Throughout her life, she had secondary jobs of teaching piano and working in churches as pianist and choir director. Music was how she connected to the spiritual – and to the world around her. Music was her language… and she taught countless children of all ages (and more than a few adults) how to love and appreciate music – whether through VBS songs, church hymns, recital music, church specials, or via Hollywood musicals – she made music fun and approachable. During her career, Sandy directed a multitude of high school choirs that consistently performed at the highest levels including national competitions. She had a knack for attracting students from all facets of a school, many who couldn’t naturally sing but who just wanted to be in her classes. She provided love, patience and a world of knowledge and in return, her students were devoted to her. But even past these “jobs”, music was also Sandy’s ministry. She grew up singing in church with her parents and sister. She taught Tina to sing harmony when she was tiny, and as soon as Tara could carry the melody of a song on her own, “The Valdes Trio” was born. Sandy taught the girls Southern gospel favorites and led them on tours of local churches. The family recorded a small-time record as well – even Rick and Richie had a song on “The Valdes Family” cassette! As a Christian school educator for over 40 years, Sandy took every opportunity she had to minister through song or “teachable moments.” She truly felt that teaching was her ministry and when funding for a music education position dried up, she began teaching kindergarten. There she proved to be just as talented with elementary education. She stayed connected with students, parents, and “room moms” throughout the course of her second career and well into her retirement years. She was instrumental in touching just as many lives in the second half of her teaching career as she was in the first half … showing that she was the vessel for His gift. All that said, the role Sandy most loved in life was that of “GRANDMOTHER.” She relished being “Granna” to the three most wonderful children on the planet… Caroline Faith (9), Norah Jane (6) and Maggie Claire (5). She thought the sun and moon rose and set on these three girls and she loved them fiercely. Sandy had an infectious laugh and a 1000-watt smile. She was the life of the party and brought people together. She had a silly side and loved to make others laugh. With her kids especially, she was goofy and loved to have fun. Tina had a work assignment once to make up her own epitaph… she produced one for Sandy that fit to a tee. Sandy loved it and swore that she was going to have it engraved on her plot marker. The epitaph was: “Here lies our mom: She was a hoot!” And she really was! To find words to sum up such a momentous life is nearly an impossible task but looking to Scripture gives us the answer…Sandy is the embodiment of 2 Timothy 4:7:
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” A memorial celebration of life will be held at Collins Hill Baptist Church on Saturday April 2 nd . The family will greet friends and loved ones at 1:30pm, with the service starting at 2pm. A private graveside service will be immediately following. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sandy’s name to the Atlanta Music Project ( or to Collins Hill Baptist Church’s Mission Fund notated to support Ed and Jean Cook, missionaries to Brazil.


Celebration of Life: April 2, 2022 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Collins Hill Baptist Church
1612 Collins Hill Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043

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Memories Timeline


  1. Oh Tina, Tara, and Richie. Our hearts go out to you during this difficult time. Our friendship with the Valdes family goes way back to our time at Covenant Baptist Church. Our families just clicked and even though in the last few years, we haven’t been able to get together, that bond of friendship was still there. We went to church together, we taught at Northeast Atlanta Christian School together, and Sandy even taught our boys how to play the piano. Sandy could just do it all and always made you feel important.
    From the Hopper family, please know you are loved and being prayed for!
    Buz, Dona, Joshua and Jonathan

  2. CandleImageFor years you were a light to myself and our family. While I am thankful to know she is rejoicing in heaven and probably leading a choir somewhere, I grieve for a bright example of love, humility, and kindness is gone.

  3. My dear friend I will miss you terribly but I’m happy you are with Jesus and completely well at last!

  4. CandleImageTina, Tara, Richie & extended family our thoughts and prayers are with you. Your Mom was not only my Cousin, but she was my friend as well, and I will miss her dearly.
    May God provide you with strength and comfort in your time of loss.

  5. Sandy was such an inspiration and blessing to me when I was a freshman at WV Tech. She started a nightly devotional time in our dorm which resulted in the salvation of my roommate as well as discipleship of those of us who were believers. We concluded each night by reciting together, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight.” I always think of her when I read those lines in Psalms. May her life challenge us all to be bold followers of Christ! Won’t Heaven be wonderful as we reunite with loved ones! May the Lord bless Sandy’s family and all who were influenced by her life!

  6. Sandy was a very positive influence in my teaching career at Hebron Christian School as well as in personal life. She was our kindergarten team’s lead teacher and guided us so well! Our team has maintained our friendship even after we retired and have stayed in close contact with each other. It’s so hard to think about not being able to see her or speak with her until we meet again in our heavenly home. But I’m very thankful that she’s no longer in the pain she suffered with her health issues for years. I’ve grown to love her daughter, Tara, and I’m praying God’s comfort, peace, and arms of compassion and understanding will be truly felt during this difficult time of grieving for her and her family! Much love, thoughts, and prayers,
    Ellen Godbee❤️????

  7. Martha and I want you to know that we are sorry for the lost of your Mom. Even though we are far away from you all in Tampa, your are our family and we love you and share your loss.
    We met your Mom a year after she married your Dad, and was impressed by her humor and just plain goodness. I told your dad “he done good” and I was proven right throughout all their years of Marriage.
    Please don’t be too sad, she lived a long a very good life, and now she again with Dad.
    May God bless you all.

  8. CandleImageSandy and I were classmates at Ripley High for 5 years. We had many classes together and she was always happy and friendly to all. Always full of enthusiasm and looking toward our next escapade together. She has remained in my heart all these years and I know the choir is celebrating. May God embrace you in his loving arms and give you peace and comfort.

    • Tina
      Thinking about you and your family. I hope you are surrounded with love. Wishing you strength during this difficult time. -Yeri-

  9. CandleImageI’m so sorry for your loss and will keep you all in my thoughts during this incredibly difficult time. Sending you much love.

  10. Tina,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and your family during this difficult time and the days to come.

    Heather Bowers

  11. Tina, I’m Praying for you and your family. You are so loving, kind and strong. I know our Father will walk with you and your family during these times and always. I want you to know that I’m here for you and know that I’m just a phone call away. I love you.
    Donna Richardson, AD
    Sparta Health & Rehabilitation

  12. Your grandpa, Herman, and grandma, Doris served my home church, Tuppers Valley Baptist Church in WV in the early-mid 1970’s. Aunt Deanna was my church buddy. I met your sweet mom and dad when they visited. I was in Dea and Vernon’s wedding, and “Preacher Gandee” married me and my husband 45 yrs ago. This entire family were very special to my life. I am grateful to have known and love/be loved by them. Heaven is sweeter and more anxiously anticipated now that they’re all back together! May God hold you close as you grieve this great loss. ❤️????????

  13. Tina and family,
    Our prayers are with you at this time, looking at your mother’s picture we see now why you are such a beautiful person inside and out. Sending BIG hugs from all of us here at Winthrop Health and Rehab.
    Your Second Family
    Winthrop Health & Rehab
    Rome Ga

  14. CandleImageTina, Tara and Richie,

    Wendy and I have been and will continue to hold all of you close in prayer. We are so fortunate to have known your Mom and to have been a part of her life. Whatever you all need, we are here for you.

    We love you!
    Wendy and Missy

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