Saturday, January 11, 2020
1:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A reception with food and drinks will follow in the Life Story Center.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
314 S Park St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Doctors Without Borders
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Creative, resourceful, and generous, Sandra Blaisdell Knight lived a life rich in family and friends. A devoted wife, loving mother, and treasured grandmother, Sandy cherished nothing more than her family. Whether knitting a special gift or sharing high tea, Sandy skillfully wove her love into everything she did. Treasured by many, Sandy will be deeply missed by those who will proudly carry her legacy forward in their daily lives.
The mobilization of war efforts in 1942 was quick and effective, with carmakers and other manufacturers changing to the production of weapons of war. Gas rationing, Scrap Days, and Victory Gardens became the norm, while The Declaration of the United Nations, the newly formed Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, and The Voice of America assured that every citizen had their eyes focused on a better future. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in Lewiston, Maine as Clifton and Myra (Stark) Blaisdell welcomed their daughter Sandra into their hearts and home on February 8.
Growing up in Leeds Junction, Maine, during the 40s and 50s, Sandy's early years proved a firm foundation upon which she built the rest of her life. Her family values were centered on the values of hard work and education. While her father worked at a tool and die shop as a machinist, her mother worked for the state of Maine in administration. The Blaisdells lived within close proximity of Myra's six siblings and their families, which led to many opportunities for Sandy to grow close relationships with her cousins.
A 1960 graduate of Monmouth Academy, she was active with the yearbook staff and Future Homemakers of America. She was known as a math whiz and dreamed early on of becoming a statistician for the Boston Red Sox. As a freshman English major at the University of Maine, she met post-doctoral student Jack Knight while attending a meeting of the International Club. Originally from Liverpool, England, Jack asked if he could walk her home from the meeting. Instantly smitten, that walk led to an immediate first date and a formal courtship that ended in Jack's proposal of marriage six weeks later. When Sandy and Jack shared their engagement with her parents, Sandy's mother quickly responded with, "I suppose you already know she can't cook." Despite Sandy's rudimentary cooking skills, the happy couple married in Leeds Junction, on August 25, 1962.
Jack's post-doctoral studies over the next several years took the couple to California, Illinois, and Arizona. Unlike many of her peers who gave up their schooling upon marrying, Sandy completed her English degree, proudly graduating from North Central College, Illinois, in 1965. While in Arizona, the couple was blessed to welcome their daughter Laura into their family in 1967. In 1969, the family settled in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Jack found work as a researcher with The Upjohn Company.
Soon after they moved to Kalamazoo, son John was born, and their family was complete. Laura and John were the center of their worlds, and Sandy focused her energies on managing the home as a stay at home mom. She also found work as a library clerk for the Kalamazoo Public Schools at Indian Prairie Elementary during the 70s and at several yarn and needlework shops in Kalamazoo during the 80s and 90s.
Though Sandy never learned to love cooking, she was a domestic engineer. Incredibly creative and determined to raise self-sufficient kids, Sandy was driven to afford them rich educational experiences. Both kids learned to do laundry as soon as they could reach the controls. A talented artist herself, Sandy taught her kids to appreciate the arts by taking them to shows. When her own kids were in school plays, Sandy crafted their costumes for them. As a den mother for cub scouts, she always came up coming up with interesting creative things for the kids to do. One of her most memorable ideas was taking the scouts to a local cricket farm!
Sandy was the primary planner of family activities. She created the itinerary, and made sure the family checked off everything on the list. Many wonderful family vacations were taken, including to all the Western National Parks, San Francisco, Disneyland, and Chattanooga. With her careful planning, every vacation was fun for the entire family. At Christmas time, Jack would take the kids to a movie while Sandy came up with creative wrappings for the gifts, like her famous Christmas Tree Mosaic on the kids' presents.
A master knitter and proud member of the Weavers Guild of Kalamazoo, Sandy would spin her own yarn. Over the years, she made beautiful handmade gifts with intricate patterns for her loved ones. Sandy was always working on a project with weaving, spinning, sewing, cross-stitching, or especially knitting. Her designs were often creative and always beautiful.
A loyal and encouraging mother, Sandy was an undauntable stand for her children. When the dressmaker for John and Beth's wedding backed out at the last minute, Sandy saved the day. She reached out to a few friends, and together they made five bridesmaids dresses and the flower girl's dress, just in time for the happy occasion. When her son joined the Navy, she was fifty percent proud and fifty percent furious. Regardless of her conflicting emotions, she welcomed the chance to attend a 3-day Tiger Cruise with John aboard USS Harry S. Truman, where she learned about her son's experiences when he was at sea. Watching the planes landing on an aircraft carrier was exciting, and she couldn't help but be even prouder of John's willingness to serve. Sandy was equally supportive of her daughter Laura's theater aspirations. She took Laura to shows and exhibitions at the Art Center, the Civic Theater, and in Chicago, encouraging Laura to follow her passion. She logged many miles driving Laura to rehearsals for the Junior Civic. When Laura eventually pursued a Ph.D. in psychology, Sandy responded with signature enthusiasm and pride.
Never was the gift of Sandy's support more evident than in the face of tragedy or struggle. When John and Beth lost their first child, Becky, as an infant, Sandy lovingly made a special cross-stitching to celebrate her life. She also helped by crying with them and sharing their grief. Later, when she learned her next grandchild, Alex, was being born five weeks early, she immediately boarded a plane and was there to greet him by the end of the day. She was especially excited 15 months later to welcome her first granddaughter, Missy.
When the grandchildren arrived, she wanted them to call her "Yiayia" after the beloved grandmother in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of her favorite movies, but that never ended up happening. Rather, she was lovingly known as "Gramma." As Gramma, she enthusiastically made matching outfits for her grandkids, and unflinchingly reflected their specialness. Her heart grew beyond measure with pride and joy when John and Beth adopted Natalie, with whom she formed a very special bond.
After Jack's retirement from Upjohn in 1997, they moved back to their beloved Arizona. They spent their retirement Jeeping with a local 4x4 club throughout the American Southwest. They traveled extensively, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, from Virginia Beach to New Zealand. Sandy loved learning about new cultures, especially Istanbul. She also took great delight in whale watching. When Jack passed away in 2017, just after their 55th wedding anniversary, Sandy moved to Indiana to be close to her son. There, she enjoyed her final years in the deep comfort of family.
For those who were blessed to know her, it is clear that Sandy's life centered on her family. Devoted wife, steadfast mother, and cherished grandmother, her unwavering love and support will long be remembered. Though the world is undoubtedly duller in the absence of her bright light, her vibrant legacy will continue to shine brilliantly in the hearts and lives of those she leaves behind.
Sandy passed away Saturday morning, December 14, at her residence in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is survived by her daughter Laura, a psychology professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and son-in-law Thomas; her son John, a research engineer at Zimmer Biomet Orthopaedics in Warsaw, Indiana, and daughter-in-law Beth, and grandchildren Alexander, Melissa, and Natalie.
A memorial service will be held at 1PM Saturday, January 11, 2020 at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where food and drinks will follow. Please visit Sandy's personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com , where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to Kalamazoo Institute of Arts or Doctors without Borders.