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Sandra Lee Ward

August 25, 1943 January 21, 2019
Sandra  Lee Ward
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Obituary for Sandra Lee Ward
Sandra Lee Ward
75 years old

“Second star to the right and straight on till morning.”

Our incredibly generous, strong-willed, brilliant and loving Mother (and Nana) left this earth too soon and headed to the next dimension on Monday, January 21, 2019 after a long and courageous battle with COPD. Mom was a fighter all the way until the end, telling us she would rather die than go to a nursing home, and she always kept her word.

Sandra was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 25, 1943. She grew up in Utah, North Carolina, Hawaii, and eventually Orange County, California, where she spent most of her adult life. Our Mom raised three kids on her own after our dad deserted the family, emptying the bank account on his way out the door. But Mom, the hustler that she was, landed two jobs and made the best of the situation. She always put her children first and family was everything to her.

Our Mom was a true leader who always stood up for what was right, even when it was not popular. She was a firm believer in women’s rights, civil rights, and equal pay. She spent her career at the County of Orange, where she began as a part time file clerk and over the next two decades rose to become a major leader in the administration as the chief of staff to the Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, a powerful but stressful position. After retiring from the County, she began her own political consulting and fundraising business and eventually opened Ward & Sylvester Public Affairs, which she grew into a successful business venture. In 2007, she moved to Spokane, WA. to be closer to family.

While she was proud of her career accomplishments, she was more proud of her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her oldest daughter Shawn Marie Ward-Hughes (Jeannie Hughes); middle daughter Kelly Sylvester (Scott Sylvester); and her son and caregiver for the past year, Kevin Ward. She is also survived by granddaughter Hannah Sylvester (a senior at Carroll College in Helena, MT.) and grandson William Sylvester (a senior at North Central High School in Spokane.) She will be missed by her siblings, Steven Aaland (Cheryl); Craig Aaland (Karen); and Kristie Metzler (Ronald). She was preceded in death by her Mother and Father, Ralph and Dorothy Aaland, and nephew Ryan Metzler. Our family continues to mourn those we lost but know they are all celebrating together in the afterlife.

Rather than dwell on a life taken too soon, we are remembering the love and laughter, the crazy times and intensity. Mom was a conundrum—she loved politics and poetry. She loved Disneyland and The Grateful Dead. She loved the Angels and the Dodgers. She was self-educated, smart as a whip, and a voracious reader of every genre of books—from Stephen King to Sophie Kinsella. She always gave the best advice, whether you knew it at the time or not, and whether or not you wanted her advice. Most of all with Sandra, you were either in or out, with her or against her, and not a lot of middle ground. There was no BS with her and she didn’t care what people thought about her. But if she loved you, you were loved for life. And she loved fiercely and protectively. She is already greatly missed.

A Celebration of Life will take place in Orange County, CA. on Friday, March 8, 2019 in the Loreleet Room at the The Phoenix Club, 1340 S. Sanderson Street, Anaheim, at 4 p.m.; and in Spokane, WA. on Sunday, June 9th at 2 p.m. at Northern Quest Casino, which was her “happy place.” We picture her up in heaven sitting at her favorite Double Diamond slot machine hitting a jackpot right now.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, where faculty and PhD students continue to make huge strides in lung cancer and lung disease research. Contributions can be sent to the “Sandra Ward Memorial Scholarship,” c/o WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA. 99202-2131. Or donations can be made online at,
under the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences tab in memory of Sandra Ward.
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