Sandra Jo “Sandy” (Gattermeir) Mitchell
Sandra Jo “Sandy” (Gattermeir) Mitchell of Fairway, KS passed away on Friday, May 31, 2019 at the age of 75.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Alice Ruth (Chambers) and Brooks Gattermeir of California and St. Louis, MO and her brother, Richard Bruce “Rich” Gattermeir of Foristell, MO.
Born June 29th, 1943 in Kansas City, MO, Sandy grew up in Holden, MO where Brooks worked in the family grain mill and Ruth taught school. The family later moved to St. Louis, MO, where Sandy attended Riverview Gardens High School. Thereafter, Sandy enrolled in the Barnes Hospital School of Nursing, from which she received her degree as a Registered Nurse.
It was at Barnes Hospital that Sandy came across a shy physician in residency from Washington University in St. Louis. Jock was smitten, but it took some time before he would work up the nerve to ask Sandy to marry him. However, on December 28th, 1964 Sandy married John Dakers (Jock) Mitchell of Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Northminster Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.
Sandy and Jock took up residence, first in St. Louis, then Hokkaido Japan, where Jock would serve as a captain in the US Army, then Iowa City, IA, before deciding on a place to raise their soon-to-be four children and start their medical practice. In 1971, Sandy traveled to Kansas City on a house-hunting mission and bought the home in Fairway, where she lived with Jock until moving to Garden Terrace Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence at Overland Park for additional care.
Sandy devoted the first half of her work life to raising her four children. In 1977, she joined Jock at his medical practice, where she earned the nickname “Sweet Sandy” for the kindness and compassion she shared with patients. Sandy loved the Christmas holidays and spent hours decorating both home and office – no surface was left untouched! The day after Christmas, Sandy would begin poring through recipes for her famous New Year’s Eve celebration: a seven course meal for twenty or more close friends, all prepared by the master chef herself.
Sandy’s caring for others, apparent in her excellence as a nurse and devotion to her family, extended to volunteer work with the Kansas City Medical Society Foundation (then Metro Med), where she served as President; the Missouri State Medical Association Alliance, where she served as State President from 1987-1988; and later the American Medical Association Alliance, where she served as National President from 1996-1997. In each organization, Sandy’s mission was to reduce violence and support victims through research, education and outreach. She started a program called Dr. Dial, where people with medical questions could call in to hear pre-recorded informative messages on health topics. She was instrumental in making seat belts mandatory in the state of Missouri. Additionally, she advocated against child violence and played a major role in promoting the Hands are Not for Hitting initiative.
Sandy’s accomplishments are many, but her most significant contribution was in the day-to-day: in the lives she touched with her smile and her compassion in dealing with others. She was quick with a hug, whether she knew you or not, and saw the best in all of us, even when we felt at our worst. Sandy’s was a radical form of kindness, no doubt gleaned from her devout parents, combined with an empathy that was truly her own. Few have given so much of themselves to others.
Sandy is survived by her husband, Dr. John Dakers Mitchell, Fairway, KS, and her children Kathleen (Danstan Bagenda) Tyre Mitchell, Omaha, NE, Timothy (Jennifer) McLeod Mitchell, St. Louis, MO, Kileen Brooks Mitchell, Bend, OR and John (Christine Gat) Dakers Mitchell III, Brooklyn, NY; grandchildren Maya Nansamba and Mitchell Mpango Bagenda, Omaha, NE, and Daisy Katherine Mitchell, Brooklyn, NY.
Sandy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2005 and participated in research with the hope that others might be spared this devastating disease. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Heart of America Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association: http://act.alz.org/goto/Sandra_Mitchell
The family would like to thank the excellent staff of Garden Terrace Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence at Overland Park for their outstanding care and genuine compassion during Sandy’s time there.
A casual gathering to celebrate Sandy’s life will take place on Friday, June 7th from 3pm-6pm at the Pavilion at Theatre in the Park (Shawnee Mission Park), 7710 Renner Rd., Shawnee, KS 66219. A short service will be held at 4pm. In case of severe weather, please call 913-499-7924 for directions to an indoor location within the park.
Interment of Sandy’s ashes will take place in a private family ceremony in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.