Mary Martha Sandner of Cañon City, CO, was called home by her Heavenly Father to rejoin family, on February 8th, 2023, at the age of 72. Mary will be desperately missed by all those that she's left behind. Our hearts are so broken by this unexpected loss. She was one of a kind and to be loved by her was to be truly blessed. Mary was a warrior, always with a smile, and so much laughter and love, as she battled diabetes and related medical issues for the last 27 years. Mary will be remembered as a survivor of many difficult challenges in her life and regarded for her courage and determination. Through it all, she maintained a unique and marvelous sense of humor which she shared with everyone.
Mary was born July 29th, 1950 in Burlington, CO, to William and Patricia "Pat" Graham. Oh, how she loved being a Leo. They are attentive, loyal, and generous. Mary lived in Pueblo, CO with her parents and little sister for most of her childhood. She attended Morton Elementary School, kindergarten through 6th grade. After grade school, she went to Freed Junior High in Pueblo and completed 7th through 9th grade. Mary, along with her mom and sister, moved to Cañon City, after her father, William Graham, was called higher in 1964 at the age of 42, as a result of injuries received during the Korean Conflict. Mary's mom married Merl James in 1965, and Mary and Kris gained a bonus dad. In 1966, they adopted baby boy Nicholas, "Nick" James, and the two girls absolutely adored him. Shortly after Merl entered eternal rest, due to cancer in 1970, Mary and her two siblings were blessed with their second bonus dad, Clint Grant in 1974. Clint soon would become Mary's children's amazing grandpa, up until he had a devastating stroke and was called home to meet his maker, in 2006.
Mary went to work during her senior year of high school for a local hamburger joint, Murphy's Poor Boy Drive-In in Canon City, where she was a carhop and milkshake maker. This is where Mary met the love of her life, Rodney "Rod" Sandner. Mary graduated from Canon City High School in 1968. She attended the University of Southern Colorado, in Pueblo, from 1968 to 1970, studying Home Economics. She then transferred to Colorado State University, in Fort Collins majoring in Fashion Merchandise and graduated with a Bachelor's degree. After graduating from CSU, Mary worked at Shoes & Things in Cañon City from 1973 to 1974. From 1974 to 1975, she was a Dietary Supervisor at St.Thomas More Hospital. In 1973, on the 3rd of February, the couple joined hands in marriage at the First United Methodist Church in Cañon City. In years forward, Mary and Rod were blessed with two children, Miranda and Russell.
Mary started working at the Department of Human Services in September 1975 as a Case Worker in Child Welfare. In 1978, Mary decided to go back to Colorado State University in Fort Collins to study social work, and graduated with a B.S.W. After over a decade of issuing daycare licenses, she applied for a new position at DHS. In 1999, she became Manager for Adult Services, until she retired in 2006. She was loved by all of her clients and coworkers, many becoming lifelong friends. Fremont County recognized Mary on her retirement of 30 dedicated years with the Fremont County Department of Human Services. Shortly after Mary retired, she went to work at the Royal Gorge Bridge for four seasons and enjoyed every moment. Mary was very active in serving her community as a longtime member of Beta Zeta Sorority, and an active member in the Royal Gorge Veterans Motor Car Club of America (VMCCA) for 25 years. She was a Brownie/Girl Scout leader for three years and delivered Meals on Wheels on the weekends. Mary worked by her husband's side at all of the trade shows, showcasing what Royal Gorge Meat Packing Company had to offer to Fremont and surrounding counties. Rod's parents and grandfather were the founders of Royal Gorge Meat Packing Company in 1945. Miranda and Russell are the 4th generation.
She had an amazing memory and told entertaining stories, sometimes with a hint of exaggeration. Even in her last few days, she told stories from throughout her amazing life. Mary was a gourmet cook and baker for her family and friends, she had a natural talent for cooking as it brought her much joy. She enjoyed watching movies at home, at the theater, or at drive-ins. Her favorites were all the Fast and Furious movies, Jurassic Park, Meet The Fockers, Burlesque, and Bridesmaids. She loved her television shows, Blue Bloods, Chicago Fire, Law & Order, Yellowstone, The Chace, American Idol, The Voice, Dr. Pimple Popper, Judge Judy, Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and any of the veterinarian shows. She loved playing cards to pass time. Her solo game was solitaire. She cherished camping and boating trips to Lake Deweese in Westcliffe, CO with her family and friends, which they did almost every weekend in the summer of the late 1980s to early 2000s. She took pride in her special order 2001 PT Cruiser, from Berry Motors. She loved jammin' out in her car. She had a love for many genres of music. She loved dancing, especially with her husband. Some of her favorite musical artists were Kane Brown, The Judds, Miranda Lambert, Bruno Mars, Jennifer Lopez, George Straight, and Elevation Worship. The Sandners loved raising Boston Terriers for 10 years. The four of them traveled all over the United States during yearly spring breaks, making many unforgettable memories. Her family was her sole focus, and she worried over and took care of them until the end. She was a keeper of so many things, such as writing pens, scissors, teapots, and kitchen gadgets, and she had enough glass jars and butter tubs to hold every leftover in Fremont County. She was the queen of "reduce, reuse, recycle!" before it became popular.
Mary is survived by her loving daughter, Miranda Sandner; son, Russell "Russ" Sandner (Miranda); cherished fur baby, Dolly "Nurse Dolly"; grand fur babies, Buddy and Joey; auntie, Terry Layne "Dixie" Fontecchio; brother, Nicholas "Nick" James (Johnnien); nephew fur baby, Gannon; sister, Kristina "Kris" Graham-Webb (Sean); special fur baby, LuLu; cousins, Donnann (Mark) Epstein, Jaynee Fontecchio-Spradling (Greg); nephews, Zachary James, Jake (Karleen) Booco, and Cody (Skylar) Miller; nieces, Sunny (Casey) Rolando, Layne Booco, Faydra Webb (Ryan); second cousins, Dawn Hooker, Dyann Hooker, Samuel Epstein; great-nieces, Kelsey (Zach) Barns, Shandon, Shyler, Lynzee, Ally, Elyes, Hadley, Niki, Paige; great-nephews, Ryder, Zacc, Hudson and Xander; as well as numerous friends and family, that are very near and dear to her heart. To say that her family and friends will miss her greatly, is an understatement.
She was preceded in death and embraced with hugs by the King of Kings, her parents, William Graham and Patricia Graham-James-Grant; her husband, Rod Sandner; baby girl Sandner; her parents-in-love, Tensie and Albert Sandner, Merl James, Clint Grant; great-niece, Kyra Rolando and many more family and friends that have gone before, and we can definitely guarantee she was met with wet kisses and wagging tails from her dearly loved fur babies. Special thanks to Dr. Reppert and staff, Dr. Pantelis "Pan" Hadjizacharia and staff, and the whole crew at Palace Drug.
Family and friends are welcome to attend a joyful Celebration of Life at 2 p.m. on May 20, 2023, at the First United Methodist Church, in Cañon City.
Mary arrived at eternity's shore in her 50th wedding anniversary month and her mom's birth month. Both Mary and Rod were told 'Well done, good and faithful servant;' at age 72, and it all continues to link together. As God calls us One by One, the chain will link again. God has you in his keeping, we have you in our hearts, a special person, a special face, a special someone we cannot replace. Mom/Mary, you will be deeply missed by your loving family and friends. You tried so hard to stay with us, you suffered so much, and told so few you didn't deserve what you went through. Until we can see what you see, our dearest, sweetest Mom/Mary, Rest in Power, with Eternal Love and Peace.
His Grace is so free. And there will be a day, we all bow before him.
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