Sandy passed away at Albany Medical Center on Monday August 9, with her family by her side. Sandy was born Oct 28, 1949 in Gloversville and lived here her entire life.
She is survived by her husband Renato (Rennie) Sanges and her daughters Gabrielle King, Jessica Reccio (Jim Doyle) and Elizabeth Sanges (Alex Bell) and brothers William Fonda (Pamela), Van Fonda III (Jessica Wilson), and Mark Fonda (Emily Hagner). She also leaves behind, her grandchildren Alex King (Kaleen), Evan King (Rose), as well as many other friends and relatives, who each will forever hold a special place in Sandy’s heart. She was predeceased by her parents Van W. Fonda II and Jeanette (Farhart) Fonda.
Sandy led an active and full life. Anyone who got to know her would quickly understand the simplicity but depth of Sandy. She was reserved and did not care about possessions, or public stature. She cared about values, speaking truth to power and leaving the world a better place than it was when she came into it. She clearly succeeded in that. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for the rest of us, she was by nature, not career choice, a community activists/organizer, which often, uncomfortably put her in the public eye. When she took on a cause she did it selflessly, with relentless vigor and passion. She did not just write checks or letters to the editor advocating for her positions. She would go door to door, talking one on one to people in impacted neighborhoods She would have in-depth late evening discussions on the local environmental issues with the DEC Commissioner on late evening calls. She would organize successful community rallies on a variety of issues, and also would reluctantly but eloquently testify at DEC hearings and meetings. She was instrumental in forging one of the state’s few successful labor and environment alliances. She would spend long hours on the phone listening to someone’s predicament and then hold organizing, strategizing meetings to build a community-based solution. It is the organized math science part of Sandy that made her research and always use unemotional fact based “truth to power” arguments in her presentations, rather than emotion.
It is impossible to remember or list all of Sandy’s volunteer and work experiences or explain the way she immersed herself into each and every activity.
From a personal level she was most proud of being a mother and raising her amazing daughters, each as strongly principled and opinionated, as she was. She was a loving wife and life partner who leaves us with fond memories, but much pain in our heart.
She thoroughly enjoyed tending to her decades old house plants, and multiple, herb, flower and vegetable gardens in her yard. None of that was work to her. She felt comfort in pulling weeds as stress relief. She was most at peace and happiest working in the yard or simply sitting in it. She would rather stay home than travel and would often say “I love our home”. Her dog, Henry, and cats Calvin & Hobbes were great joys to her, and you can see they miss her, just as she does them.
In the Fulton County area, Sandy may be best remembered for her work with the Rainbow Alliance for Clean Environment, which advocated for industrial responsibility, proper closer and remediation of numerous old leaking industrial dumps and hazardous waste sites, addressing critical issues in citing a new countywide dump, getting the Cayadutta Creek water quality improved to support aquatic life and working with multiple neighborhoods that had severe odor problems from industrial sites and also the Sewage Treatment Plant. While much progress was previously made, Sandy was distressed recently that those same odor issues at the sewage treatment plant are again arising, and we do not seem to have learned from the past.
She was on the Board of Trustees of the Fulton Montgomery Community College during a particularly tumultuous time but always held her ground for ethical and open proceeding based on facts.
On a statewide level She helped to organize the state’s first statewide grassroots coalition of community groups on toxic pollution. Based on her work in Fulton County, she was a prominent member of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC) Board, providing wisdom, guidance and support with a strong dedication to its “grassroots to statehouse” battles for environmental justice.
Once her children were raised, Sandy started working as a lab technician, assisting with fish analysis and data collection, for NYSDEC at the Hale Creek Field Station, until; her retirement in 2018.
Sandy was not religious in the traditional sense, but was extremely spiritual. She was accurately described recently, by a dear friend, as a “a wise woman of steel with a heart of gold-persistently advocating to clean up the Cayadutta Creek and the tannery waste dump sites, with a determination and commitment few others possess.” Her friend went on to explain that there is part of contemporary Jewish thought, called “Tikkun Olam” which connotes social action and social justice work, and literally means “to do something with the world that not only will fix any damage, but will also improve upon it.” Sandy is a true practitioner of Tikkun Olam.
One of the Tibetan Buddhists’ key practices is “loving kindness.” Sandy has been the embodiment of loving kindness. She has helped so many people with kindness, compassion, proactive help and support, in her kind, gentle and wise way. The family acknowledges and appreciates the skill, care and kindness of all the medical staff that have interacted with Sandy over her ordeals.
Despite the many successes Sandy achieved during her life, she was always hardest on herself, and always felt she should have done more. As anyone lucky enough to know Sandy realizes, the wisdom, values and lessons, we have learned from her do not end with her passing on to her next life.
There will be no calling hours or visitation. A celebration of Sandy’s life will be planned for a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of one’s choice, but we ask that they be in keeping with Sandy’s values and beliefs and be to smaller local, community-based organizations and causes.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Walrath & Stewart Funeral Home, Gloversville. Online condolences to the family may be made at www.brbsfuneral.com.
51 Fremont St., Gloversville725-1121