Wife, mother, Nana, friend and volunteer. Sondra was born August 16, 1937 in Mitchell, South Dakota. She was baptized two days later in the hospital as the doctors didn’t think she would live. Obviously they didn’t know who they were dealing with at the time. She left us to join her beloved husband Bob on Friday, March 31, 2017. As her grandson Nick would remind us all, it’s the space between the two dates that are the most important. As they grew up, she told her grandsons it was their hugs and kisses that kept her young. Sondra was a great one to give a hug and a smile.
Growing up in Mitchell, her family owned a photo service. When she and her sister were old enough, they worked in the shop that was in their home basement. Even when they were quite young, some tasks, like putting pictures on the dryer belt were quite easy. As soon as they could count, they would use numbers on the back to sort pictures into stacks by tens. And as they grew, other duties were added. They were often unhappy that they had to work in the shop but it was expected. School activities were about the only exception to daily duties. As teens, during busy times in the shop, they also fixed meals, did dishes and cleaned the house.
Fond childhood memories included trips, when tires and gasoline were available, to see grandparents and other relatives on the farm. Swimming or a Sunday picnic at Lake Mitchell in the summer was a special afternoon. Sitting on a blanket with friends for the local band concerts at the courthouse on Friday night was an event not to be missed. Mostly playing with kids in the neighborhood filled the days when not in school or the shop. They played Kick the Can, Ante I Over (their garage), hide and seek, jacks, hop scotch, jump rope, cowboys (using a horse made from a stick) and Indians or softball in the street. They played after supper until their parents turned the porch light on to signal it was time to come home. There were three movie theatres in Mitchell when she was growing up and for about a quarter, you could go to the movie, have popcorn and then go across the street and have a nickel ice cream. The movie was 12 cents for kids and then went to 14. In addition to the movie, there was a news section, cartoons and on weekends a cowboy serial that always ended with a cliffhanger so you’d come back the next week. Her Dad said she skipped everywhere instead of walking so he nicknamed her Skippy.
She attended Litchfield School, just two blocks away, when the pre-kindergarten was called Play Center and then K – 6. She was a good student and being somewhat shy and demure, was always liked by the teachers. Two blocks seemed a long way to those little legs in the middle of a blizzard. She didn’t remember getting a ride very often to school except once in a while on the way back from lunch if her Dad had time. One lunchtime when it was very cold she got back to school earlier than was allowed to go into the entry so she tried to sneak in but the teacher on duty down the hall saw her. The teacher told her she’d have to go back out saying “It’s nice out there”. Whereupon Sonnie replied that if it was so nice outside, why didn’t she go out? Not typical of her usual behavior and she recalled getting in trouble. (Her grandsons love this story so she wanted to include it here.) She was a cheerleader for the boys’ basketball team and was Queen of “Good Health Land” in a play and got to wear a long white dress with a gold crown. A highlight of the season was the Christmas play, which had a religious theme, not unusual for that time. Mrs. Kaye, a neighbor, gave piano lessons to both of the girls.
Mitchell Junior High for 7 – 9 followed where she got involved in drama and had the lead in the 9th grade class play and loved being a cheerleader. If you were a good student, Latin was one of your classes so she took three years of that. It always surprised her how much she applied her knowledge through the years but nobody could have convinced her of that at the time. Girls took sewing one semester and cooking the other in 7th and 8th grades with an option for 9th, which she did, as well. Her parents would buy as much material and patterns as she wanted to make clothes and she made many of her own clothes through the years and also for her daughters, including both of their prom dresses.
Mitchell Senior High followed where she was an honor graduate in 1955, having gone to Girls State and earned the Nancy Peabody Good Citizenship Award and was a member of the National Honor Society. Her interests were politics, drama, journalism, home economics and office skills. She played the flute in the band; an instrument was considered a must by her parents but you couldn’t do band and cheerleading and she would have preferred cheerleading.
First Lutheran Church at Fifth & Duff Streets was a large part of her social life. Church and Sunday School on Sunday morning, Luther League (youth group), confirmation, church fundraisers – lutefisk suppers and the food stand during Corn Palace week, NESODAK Bible Camp in the summers were all remembered with fondness.
She always loved to read and was lucky to have a wonderful library within walking distance growing up. There was no TV yet, only radio, so she spent her nights and spare time with a book. As an adult, she was an avid reader and would often read while Bob watched a show on the History channel. Her favorite genre was historical biographies and she also enjoyed Readers Digest Condensed Books, and Janet Evanovitch books just for a laugh! She most loved to have her grandsons sit in her lap and read to them.
She attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls for one year and then married her childhood sweetheart, Richard “Dick” Eastcott, on October 3, 1956. Sondra worked at Armour Creamery as a clerk paying farmers for milk, eggs and turkeys. She loved to play nickel bet, nickel raise poker with friends on weekends and being a movie fan swooned over Jeff Chandler. In July, 1957, they moved to Escondido, California where their first daughter, Holly Lynn Eastcott (Ferrante), was born on October 22, 1957 and Heidi Leigh Eastcott (Lyon) followed on March 9, 1967.
In April 1958 Sondra was hired as a bookkeeper at Sparkletone Photo Service on Park Blvd. in San Diego – her boss decided to call her Sandy, a name that stuck. She worked there for four years, becoming the Office Manager. She was a stay-at-home mom with Holly for a while and then was hired as the Office Manager at Sequoia Landscape. This is where she met Bob Jasak who worked in sales. When some of the sales people from there formed their own company, she worked part-time as their bookkeeper. Years later, when she and Dick were divorcing, she picked up an order at the Sears catalogue counter and ran into Bob. He was an insurance agent for Allstate Insurance now and she worked at Stanley C. Schwartz & Co.
After a quick courtship, they married on July 27, 1969 with the pastor saying the marriage would never last. They proved him wrong and their love grew deeper and stronger over their 45-year marriage! Their love was a love like no other and a model for their daughters, their families, and all who encountered them in passing or in friendship. They truly enjoyed the company of each other and began each day in “The Room” with coffee/tea and chatting about anything while they looked out at the beautiful world. They looked forward to more shared time each evening when they recounted their day over a glass of Delicious Red and dinner. In 1972, they settled in Lakeside where she and Bob enjoyed the amazing views from their home, especially the sunsets from their backyard. Although Sondra was a bookkeeper for almost 20 years, she decided to work with Bob when he opened his Farmers Insurance Agency in 1975 and became a Farmers agent herself in 1976. They shared an office together for 30 years.
Volunteering was very important to her. She was active in the PTA when her girls were young and prior to this she was a church youth leader. For about 30 years she delivered meals for Meals on Wheels with good friends. After her breast cancer diagnosis in 2001, she became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society calling on recently diagnosed breast cancer patients. Her daughters and she had an annual team for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to support breast cancer patients and research. Sondra was always active in her church and served in many positions from youth sponsor, Stephen Minister, set-up/hostess for memorial services, and church council. She and Bob also had numerous opportunities over 15 years to collaborate and design, sew and paint matching paraments, banners and vestments for the different church seasons at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church.
Sandy was a great friend to many and considered by several to be their best friend. She had time and love for everyone. One of her many wonderful qualities was being welcoming and approaching people she did not know or were new to a situation and befriending them. Her friends would tell you they were friends with her not because of their efforts but because of Sandy’s openess and outgoing personality to establish their friendships, many of which lasted 45+ years. Both acquaintances and those close to her admired her classy style but she would tell you she had to dress in bright colors in order to be noticed as Bob would command the attention of a room upon entering. She was the ultimate hostess, inviting friends over for many annual holiday, Super Bowl, and other parties over the years.
Family was always first for Sondra. She raised two strong daughters and passed on her culinary skills and baking traditions to both of them. Sondra lovingly created a scrapbook for each of her grandsons in addition to one of her ancestors and several for Bob. Unfortunately, she was unable to complete the scrapbook of her life but Holly and Heidi will finish it for her. A favorite gift was always certificates for meals, theater or other outings with her family. She was happiest when her family was all together enjoying a meal or drinks after church at Starbucks. Even though she could never be considered a camper, she joined her girls and their families, even sleeping in the middle bunk, on their annual RV camping trips in recent years. She would not dream of being away from them that long and it was a rare day when she did not see/talk to her girls.
Nana loved her grandsons, Nick, Andy, and Willson and was active in their care from the time they were born, watching all after school so their moms could work. Once Holly’s boys were old enough to vacation without their parents, she and ‘BopBop’ took Nick and Andy on annual week-long trips to their time shares in Palm Desert, the beach in Carlsbad, Pismo Beach and Avila Beach as well as trips to Catalina and San Francisco. She is responsible for Willson’s nickname (He is Will’s son – Willson), coming up with it after meeting with a relative when Heidi was pregnant and discussing their Scandanavian heritage. Nana missed only a few open houses, school and sporting events and her boys were truly the “apple of her eye!”
Following Bob’s passing in October 2014, Sondra attended a grief group and met several great friends, including Vic. In the fall of 2015 they had their first date and Holly and Heidi were thrilled when she and Vic decided to date. She was so happy and they enhanced each others life while enjoying their time remodeling Vic’s home in Monterey, relaxing in San Diego, and taking a few vacations. While their time together was cut short by her illness they enjoyed each others company in nightly phone calls. When Vic would call, nothing else mattered and she always had a huge smile while they talked.
Sondra is survived by daughter Holly Ferrante and her husband Biagio; daughter Heidi Lyon and her husband Bill; and grandsons Nick, Andy, and Willson. Her beloved husband, Bob, preceded her in death. Her family and friends are comforted to know he greeted her in heaven with open arms and a big smile while he sang The Twelfth of Never to welcome his “Numbers” home.
Memorial gifts in her honor may be sent to St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church noting Emmanuel Orphanage or the American Cancer Society.
Celebration of Life
- Date: April 22, 2017
- Time: 12:00 Noon
- Location: St. Andrews Lutheran Church
- Address: 8350 Lake Murray Blvd San Diego CA 92119
- Directions: St. Andrews Lutheran Church
- Date: May 17, 2017
- Time: 11:30 AM
- Location: Miramar National Cemetery
- Address: 5795 Nobel Drive San Diego, CA 92122
- Directions: Miramar National Cemetery
Arrive in staging area at 11:00 AM.
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Lori and Joey Larocque on April 20, 2017
Yvette Davis on April 18, 2017
Mary Burton on April 12, 2017
Brenda Clark on April 12, 2017
Eiserling on April 12, 2017
Vicki DeNardo on April 12, 2017
Dean Fitzler on April 11, 2017