Sandra G. "Sandy" Valdes
January 11, 1948 ~ March 16, 2022
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 (www.atlantamusicproject.org) or to Collins Hill Baptist Church’s Mission Fund notated to support Ed and Jean Cook, missionaries to Brazil.