I knew Sandi since Jerry Thorne's early days on Pleasanton's Parks and Recreation Commission. Their daughter Keri was a champion on the Pleasanton Seahawks swim team, where Jerry was president. This required one of them to drive Keri to the city's aquatic center before 5 a.m. (winter and summer) for practice. Sandi told me they were overjoyed when Keri turned 16 and could drive there on her own.
Sandi was a fun person, a favorite table-mate, a good conversationalist. We sat together often while she listened and I covered for the Weekly Jerry's frequent remarks and recognitions at city, civic and community events. We stood together on streets and driveways at homecomings the Pleasanton Military Families (PMF) organization held for soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Sandi was as much a patriot as her husband, riding together in Veterans Day parades, standing at Pioneer Cemetery ceremonies and outside the Senior Center for Memorial Day tributes. We saw her at PMF's summer barbecues and Christmas dinners, catching up on news about Pleasanton's deployed military.
I was with her at Gene's Fine Foods to support local veterans at a $10 filet dinner. Just last November, she helped pack Christmas boxes to be sent by PMF to 72 of our troops deployed overseas. "Always one of my favorite things to do around the holidays," she said.
"My heart just aches," said PMF's chairwoman Pat Frizzell on hearing of Sandi's death. "We all knew Sandi to be one of the kindest and finest ladies we ever had the pleasure of knowing."
Sandi was a regular at other events and causes, with and without Jerry. Together, they were at the recent Troop 911 pasta feed and later at the Museum on Main, where she has been a board member for years, to help her husband present the Ed Kinney Patriot Award. The two celebrated with the Huaxing Arts Group at its New Year's Gala, where she met the Chinese Consul General from San Francisco.
She said that one of the great things about being the mayor's wife was having the opportunity to experience the many different cultures that make up Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley area.
That included hosting table tennis coaches from China who were here on a visit. Before dinner, we watched as she showed her skills at the sport, expertly spinning the ball on the return to gain the advantage against one of the best coaches.
Sandi liked to be at all sorts of community events, including the local Mormons' annual LDS Heritage Day picnics, Pleasanton's annual July 4 celebrations in Lions Wayside Park, Pleasanton Community Band performances, business grand openings and even at a recent dinner held by firefighters at LPFD Station No. 8.
"You guys should open your own restaurant," she said. "You would do very well."
She was always at Jerry's side, at Pleasanton events, on trips to Washington, D.C., at the two-day Scottish Games in often grueling heat and at Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association trips, including to the Teotihuacán pyramids for a scenic photo op.
Despite her busy schedule, Sandi always had time to travel to Lausanne, Switzerland to see Keri and her husband David Gough, where they live and work. Most recently, the travels became even more exhilarating with the birth of two grandchildren: Ellis, now 3, and her baby brother Finn, born last February. They were all here in Pleasanton with "Grandmommie" in early August during Sandi's final days.