- 77 years old
- Date of birth: Sep 28, 1936
- Place of birth:
Trenton, New Jersey, United States
- Date of passing: Jul 31, 2014
- Place of passing:
Orange, Connecticut, United States
|A woman who cherished friends and family and gave of herself generously with great laughter and joy. She adored her pets, travelling, the seashore, reading, and sharing who she was with others--in conversations, in her classroom or around her table.|
"Sandra and Robert Stahman and the Puerto Vallarta Writers Group
I am going to address those years I was active with the Writers Group, (where I first met Sandra and Robert), almost fifteen of the twenty I have lived here. Writers groups existed before and there is one now, but I fell into a period of more than a decade when the group was in my opinion at its best; well run, well attended by members as diverse as could be imagined, with writing skills at all levels.
This incarnation began around the start of the new millennium with Don Gallery, the son of one of Hollywood’s earliest stars of the silent screen, Barbara Lamar. Don’s birth mother died when he was an infant and he was adopted by comedienne Zazu Pitts and actor John Gallery, who was featured in the silent edition of Rin Tin Tin. His godmother was Jean Harlow. A childhood friend of Shirley Temple and Liz Taylor, Don was an encyclopedia of early Hollywood. He was dedicated to the writers group, and much of its growth was due to his leadership.
Back in the day, we had no set meeting place but would meet in various restaurants which would tolerate the group for a while, then kick us out on learning that most of the thirty or so gringos wouldn’t even buy a coffee, much less a breakfast. We were a peripatetic conglomeration. Sandra was a regular attendee back in the day; Robert often with her, though his interest in writing seemed limited. He was rarely without his camera though, attesting to his personal artistic pursuits.
I recall at one meeting Sandra saying she wrote TV and/or film scripts which she felt were not as easy for the group to follow as were the offerings of fiction and the nonfiction personal memoirs most common. That wasn’t a problem. All readers were welcomed, and it was a supportive assembly. Occasionally, Sandra would offer a poem, or a short piece on something that had inspired her. She and Robert were well-liked and easily made friends among the eclectic ex-patriots, which gave Robert a ready audience base for his own efforts.
Robert’s photos were shared with the writer’s group on several occasions, were displayed in exhibitions, and were printed on the covers of local publications. I remember his pictures of Mexican children, their joyful smiles, and the aged, their faces lined with wisdom and acceptance. Robert had a gift for capturing that which most of us overlooked as we pursued our own lives in this quaint Mexican pueblo. That he and Sandra loved Puerto Vallarta was evident in more than their return each winter. Sandra expressed her love for the town and its culture in her writing. Robert’s feelings were evident in his art, his pictures. I remember his flowers, close-ups of blooms and shots of sidewalk flower stalls and their vendors.
The writers group was a social occasion for many members, and we’d meet for lunch after the meeting, which often led to invitations to each other’s homes. It was after I had self-published an early novel, and a reader commented that it should be a movie, that Sandra told me of her son’s profession. I was invited to their home. Robert didn’t talk much, and I’m afraid I didn’t give him much of an opportunity, for after Sandra told me that she had managed the folk music performers Peter, Paul and Mary in her younger days, I was enthralled. I was starting out as a performer in Washington D.C. about that same time, and met many of those from Greenwich Village coming down to perform. Sitting in Puerto Vallarta, playing the ‘do you remember’ game tossing names I hadn’t thought of in over forty years, was a rare delight.
On leaving their home after my first visit, Sandra pressed a key into my hand. It was a practical gesture for it meant they did not have to walk the stairs to open the sidewalk gate for me. But it touched me, as a way of saying ‘You are welcome here. You are expected to return.’ I did. I miss that. I miss them.
"Light, peace and power to the spirit of Sandra Stahman"
"I will never forget your giving me a key on my first visit to your PV home.
What better way to say one is welcome to return?
"My gratitude to those who publicly remember my mom's grace and wit. I smile to remember her warmth, laughter and insights a year later -- yarzeit in the Jewish tradition -- and will continue to do so. She is dearly missed by those who knew and loved her."
"On this day, as on every day, remembering Sandra's great warmth, generosity, wit, curiosity and ability to bring people together. May we all appreciate one another and bring Sandra's spirit of compassion to all our encounters, striving for togetherness, understanding, love and joie de vivre.
In gratitude for and remembrance of everything Sandra brought to the world, to those whose lives she touched -- strangers, acquaintances, friends and family alike."
"on this the annual memorial, a prayer and hope for Sandra in the mystery of eternal life and peace."
"How loved she was! She reveled in talking about her days in Scranton, PA."
"Dearest Bob – Having been in Canada, I just learned of Sandra's passing...You two (and Koki) always felt like family to me – caring, encouraging, supportive and loving, and I will always be grateful for our shared time. So many joyous Christmases celebrated together, so many laughs and wonderful conversations...I adored her, as I do you Bob, and miss you both very much."
I can't even begin to tell you how much you and Sandra are missed by us all here in Puerto Vallarta. It was such a joy to see you at the writers Group and about town. The lovely meals and moments in your PV home are treasured memories for Ernesto and I. Please know our hearts go out to you at this difficult time and that our home (su casa) is always open to you. Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures, that put a smile on our faces as we remember HERS.
Con mucho cariño, RosAngelica"
Sorry I can't be there today. It is my grandchild's 3rd birthday
My heart is full when I think of the support and generosity
Robert and Sandra have always given my husband and me.
I send blessings on your memorial and the others too.
Sandra, you will walk beside me forever, dearest friend.
Dana Zeller + Mark Zeller"
"We will always remember our early days starting out, in the 70's ,when we were at Job 70 at Con Ed, with Sandra playing a role in the program with her warmth and enthusiasm. From there on to a friendship. We still have the bracelet she and Bob gave to our daughter, Kristin, at her baptism. May she rest in peace; may Bob and her sons and family be comforted. Regina and Bill Fredrickson"
"You lived your life as the proverb, "Better to light a candle than to cause the darkness." Thank you for all the candles you lit, that, in turn, lit two more.
"Sandra was my mom's best friend from the time I was born. Perry was born a week before I was. Sandra was my second mother. As we both grew older we disagreed on much from politics to labor unions, but her wit and zeal always struck me most. From start to finish she was one of the most genuine people I've ever been fortunate enough to know. You wwere loved & admired by so many and for so much. As an adult i understand the circle of life, but your time here on Earth was far too short, my second mother. Rest easy now and say hi to my mom."
"I had known Sandra (and Robert) for 35 years when she died. She was my wife's, Margaret’s, best friend from before we met. She quickly became my close friend also, and a vital and crucial part of our family lives.
She was a reader at our wedding and member of our wedding party. Robert took the photos of the wedding.
We spent weekends together in the country in our house in Pennsylvania, and then in Connecticut, while our children were growing up. She was a strong supporter of my work with Camphill Villages, communities around the world living with men and women with developmental difficulties. My younger brother, Jonathan, was born with Downs Syndrome and lived in Camphill almost all of his life.
Sandra took him into her heart immediately and without reservation, and became a part of the Brothers and Sisters of Camphill Village and visited him every opportunity she had. They became wonderful friends.
Whenever things were joyful in our lives, Sandra was there to celebrate with us. When things were confusing, she was there to listen. When things were hard, she was there to listen harder, and if asked, provide a point-of-view, never intrusive, always frank and honest.
There is a photo of her with our son, Jimmy, when he was in college. It is a photo of unleashed joy, of abandon to smiling, and of an intimacy that few other photos in our family album can match. He once told us that of all the friends we had as a family, he felt closest to her. It wasn't hard to see why.
Keenly insightful, Sandra saw beyond the surface-obvious, into the meaning of the situation for you – not for her – but for you. A conversation with her, and evening, always left you feeling you knew a little more about yourself than you had before. And that it was good to be you.
She was one of those rare friends where a year or two made no difference when you began to speak again – it was as if there was no time that intruded between visits and conversations. That is a cherished relationship that only appears so often in a person’s life. When it does, you love the person with whom you have it. We had that with Sandra.
So for us, she is not gone. We are just waiting for the next time we meet."
"“One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.”
― John O'Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong
Dear Sandra, that is one of the things you and Bob did for me. Thank you."
"Dear Bob, I remember many warm visits to your cozy Puerto Vallarta apartment. As I would say to Sandra, it always felt like coming home. I know Josué felt the same when visiting. Thank you for the hospitality over the years. How nice to see photos of your long and joy-filled life together. You are loved and missed in Puerto Vallarta. Un abrazo."
"Sandra - you were always just a wonderful energy force and special person to me and my entire family. You are forever loved and will be missed."
You and Sandra were always such supportive people to Mark and me.
Sandra was always the port in the storm with a knowing word.
]Her art was making people comfortable in her home. We always
felt important as guests, not to mention the delicious food and
the yummy oreos.
The photos on the website are wonderful. I'm seeing all different
parts of Sandra's life. She was beautiful, smart, and had
a joy of life that was a never ending river of laughs.
We will miss Sandra and her stories and her jokes and
We love you Robert and we will keep Sandra alive in our hearts
Mark and Dana Zeller"
"IN MEMORIAM Sandra Stahman: A Conversation
From Rose Lee Hayden--Rome, Italy
Words fail, and after several attempts to write a tribute to my dearest and beloved Sandra Stahman, I had to face the fact that I sounded ever so trite, and frankly was not really honoring and celebrating YOU, dear Sandra. I still cannot seem to get it right, so let me just skip the formalities and speak directly to you, soul to soul.
Sandy, it so happens that I am now in Brazil where people truly believe in any and all religions and pray to alI the gods, white, African, whatever. They are not theological, they are seekers. Sorry you cannot be with me except in my heart. You would love these guys, another version of Latin AmericanMexican culture that teaches us gringos how to share the gifts of life and love no matter how poor or rich, so-called educated or not. We are “family” – sometimes more so despite language and cultural differences. You both created and were a part of this family who shared you and loved you and Bob - and of course that little doggie who knew that if she barked enough, Alberto would come and be there for her.
I hope you come back to me in my dreams with that way of slowing down and speaking in a different tone of voice when discussing issues of race and class and education and politics…whatever.
Your GPS never wavered when it came to your beliefs, acts, and commitment to social justice despite our prejudices. You helped me rise above all that with wonderful examples from your life and lots of Manhattans or whatever the ice cubes and blender in Greenport was serving up (along with lobsters and tons of food at a table crowded with your other ¨family¨ – all of us who considered Greenport our home thanks to you. There was always room for one more at the table Bob made, always room under the table for yet another poodle or even a place for Figaro, a rather nasty-mouthed little parrot who told you off for which I apologize.
I can still hear you yelling at Bob when we were dog-sledding in Finland. Unbeknownst to you in the front of the sled, Robert had fallen off the back of the sled into a deep snowdrift as your dogs raced on now that there was no one at the helm. In a tone of voice I really miss, here is the dialogue as your sled sped ahead of mine:
“Robert…ROOOBERT…answer me. ROBERT! THIS IS NOT FUNNY.” I tried to signal you and yelled – “Sandy, … NO Robert!” Turns out he was in a really deep drift of snow, but when the owner of the dogs went back to find him, our Roberto was happily waving a little flashlight and was calm as could be in below-zero, always dark in winter Finland. All ended well, but believe me, that was a jewel in your crown. I loved it and still laugh. Robert must miss this verbal challenge…I know I do.
And when life was awful, you were always there for me with the best advice because it was always spot on and not judgmental. I could accept it because it was intelligent and always from the heart.
And what courage you displayed during the brain surgeries and recovery, facing the end without complaint, and beating it back with a miraculous recovery that was a testimony to your strength and character. I hope I have even one percent of this courage when I have to leave the planet as we all eventually do. In the words of none other than Evil Knievel who was asked why he kept risking his life and breaking bones over and over again: “Ain’t none of us getting out of this alive.” Never thought of him as an existential philosopher, but so true.
So, my dear Sandra, I will keep talking to you, ok? Because, my dearest, I cannot and will never let you go. It hurts too much.
Somewhere you are out there, I know it, and this helps all of us to go forward without you in our lives. Some people are simply bigger than life. As you know, nature abhors a vacuum, so you live on in our hearts and minds.
And dear Sandra, here’s one last request before I speak with you again. Wherever you are in whatever dimension out there, given ‘em a piece of your mind! It will do the universe good.
Know I cherish every minute I was privileged to spend with you. I am so grateful you were in my life, accepted me and others as ¨family¨. All of us left behind now know just how much you gave to us and how much we will always miss you. But we will continue to converse with you, each in our own way… in our own hearts… each with gratitude and love."
"A Tribute from Barbara & Bruce Berger
Bob has lost a wonderful wife and extraordinary woman whose humor, brilliance and overall personality was warm, lively and winning. Perry and Dorian lost a loving mother who always regaled me with stories of your lives, where you were, what you were doing and Dorian, your wife and darling daughters. She and I shared memories of grandparents, Phil and Jennie, gone so many years now, Silvia, and my mother, Jean, always sparking laughter, humor and constant questions about these two strange sisters and our positions as their daughters.
Barbara & Bruce Berger"
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