Sandra

November 23, 1937 ~ November 2, 2020

Born in: Waterloo, Iowa
Resided in: Torrance, California

Sandra May (O’Green) Gilliland was born on November 23, 1937 in Waterloo, Iowa.  She was 82 when she passed away in her lovely home on November 2, 2020 in Torrance. She was surrounded by her two beloved daughters Carol and Tina and her grandson Matthew with Tawnie by his side.

Sandra was predeceased by her husband Robert J Gilliland, parents Clarence and May O’Green and her only sister Phyllis May (O’Green) Jacklin, better known as Fiddy.

Sandra is survived by two daughters Carol Renee’ Clark, 62 and Tina Marie Schaffer, 59. Grandchildren, Matthew Ross Clark, 35, Callie Renee’ (Clark) Luciano, 30, great granddaughters Riley Renee’ Luciano 3 1/2, Ainsley Marie Clark, 9 months, and her faithful doggie Muffin. She is also survived by nephew Mark Leighton Jacklin and wife Dana Jacklin, niece Heidi Ann (Jacklin) Satterfield and husband Greg Satterfield, great nephews Chad Fly, Joseph Jacklin, Joshua Satterfield and great niece Meghan Jacklin.

She will be greatly missed by her childhood babysitter Patty Abslag who has known Sandy her entire life and her husband Bill Abslag, loving boyfriend Allan Brunmier, best friends Jeanne Marlin and Marilyn Wolff and her neighbors for over 40 years, David and Elaine Brent, Wally and Elaine Draper, Nanette Jiminez and all her friends that she cherished and held so dear.

Sandra moved to California as a teenager and graduated from Inglewood High. Her love of dance began in high school when she enrolled in Modern Dance as her PE class.

Sandra loved being a Girl Scout and used to brag that they finally kicked her out at age 18 because she was “too old”. During her later Girl Scout years, she began volunteering at a local hospital as a Candy Striper. She wore a red and white striped uniform and helped out in the hospital. As a mom she became a Girl Scout leader for Troop 731 in Torrance.

At age 17 she met Jeanne Marlin and they built a lifetime friendship. These gals would head down to the Pike in Long Beach on weekends to go out dancing with the young sailors on leave. They always peeked into the tattoo parlor to watch the sailors having their arms tattooed. Jeanne was by her side for a final visit only a few days before her beloved friend passed away.

In 1956 she entered a beauty pageant and won the title of Miss Lawndale. She had splurged and purchased a Rose Marie Reid white one-piece bathing suite with polka dots for the swimsuit competition and boy did she look great. It was all the rage to be wearing a Rose Marie Reid swimsuit! Our mom had an eye for what looked good on her and staying current and fashionable was part of her everyday life for as long as we can remember. We’re sure her outgoing personality, long legs and auburn hair shot her right to the top of the Judges list for the title. We have always loved telling people she was Miss Lawndale.

Her daughters Carol and Tina were born three years apart and they filled her heart with love. She designed custom bedrooms for each daughter; purple for Carol with a window seat, built in cabinets for her doll collection and a counter for her record player, yellow for Tina with a fabulous custom built pull down table with stools to sit on and every type of art supply you could imagine. They spent many an afternoon playing in Tina’s room coloring and having fun. Their mom made the girls matching Christmas dresses each year and they baked haystacks and rice crispy squares during the holidays. There was no limit to what she was willing to do for her Daughters. She was always on their side and there to enjoy every moment of their lives and see them through any tough time that might arise. Her love was as unconditional as humanly possible. There was no mountain too high nor valley too low to keep her from being with her girls. Hugs and kisses flowed freely, and millions of phone calls took place over their lifetime together.

One winter, Sandra arranged for two young sailors stationed in Long Beach to join the family for Christmas in their home. Their names were Bob and Frankie. They gave her a cut crystal covered candy dish one year for Christmas and that remains on her coffee table to this day.

When she was the PTA President at Arlington Elementary School in Torrance, California she met Marilyn Wolff who also became a best friend for life. These two knew every detail about each other.  When the two of them and their husbands Bob and Lipp got together, you were sure to be in for some laughter over joke telling and continuous fun and frolic too.  Sandra was also a member of the Torrance Junior Women’s Club and the Torrance Toastmistress Club.

The family moved to Hermosa Beach in 1973 for three fun filled years with sand between their toes,  sunsets, swim suits and ‘Go-a heads’  The term charcuterie had yet to be introduced in the 70’s however our mom called it a relish tray and we had one several nights a week prior to dinner to ”tide us over”. It was a kaleidoscope of veggies sprinkled with Salad Supreme and a saucer of ranch dressing for dipping!

She found her ideal dream house in 1976. She took one look at the framed shell of a dining room, promptly made an offer and as soon as it was finished being built, we moved back to Torrance. These were truly her glory days and she filled her home with all things that were ‘pretty’ and brought her joy!

Later in life she returned to hospital volunteering as a member of the Torrance Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, offering her time in a variety of ways such as planning fashion shows designed to promote the pretty clothes sold in the gift shop. She even cast her grandson and granddaughter in the show to model the children’s clothing.  For a year she published the monthly Auxiliary Newsletter. She was most proud when asked to continue her volunteering in the Recovery Room. She loved that area as it brought her closer to patients and their family. If you were sick, she made you feel all better and Sandra was good at caring about others needs.

She loved to take trips annually to Hawaii where she had gotten married on Valentines Day to her husband Robert J Gilliland. They went back most every Valentines Day for at least 10 years. When the movie Love Story came out they liked it so much our mom started calling Bob “preppy’ which was the pet name Ali MacGraw called her co-star Ryan O’Neal in the movie. That pet name stuck for their entire marriage and was very endearing.

Sandy hosted an annual Christmas Tea for 12 of her dearest friends. She loved to make her own invitations, place cards and all the delicious sweet and savory foods served at a proper tea party, which always began with a magnum of champagne.  This was truly the highlight of the year for her and the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season. It was always held on the first Sunday in December, every part of her home oozed Christmas. She even had 3 Christmas trees on the kitchen island that were decorated with tiny cooking gadgets, pretend foods and tea party ornaments. She lovingly referred to them as her “Tea Trees”.

Sandy met Al while walking their dogs in the neighborhood. They became fast friends and she invited him to family functions and that was how their long term relationship began. They lived so close it was easy to walk to one another’s homes. Mom encouraged Al to try dancing and they signed up for lessons together. We would all drive out to Leisure World where Tina sings in a country band and they danced the night away. Before long Al was part of the family and celebrating all the family and holiday events with us. Mom adored Al and he always tried to do anything he thought would make her life easier. They went grocery shopping together, he picked up dinner and brought it to her house, drove my mom anywhere she wanted to go, went to doctor appointments and picked up prescriptions and vitamins from the pharmacy. He wrote poems about her and cared for her. They took Muffin for walks in the neighborhood. He took my mom on a wonderful East coast cruise along the coast and up to Canada that she absolutely loved. I guess you could say they lived quite a lot in those Golden Years together.

Her family was the most important part of Sandra’s life. She loved to have parties in her pretty home with sit down dinners for twelve in her beautiful dining room.  Her daughters were closest to her heart. The time they spent together was what she lived for. Shopping trips, lunches and late-night phone calls with not a day going by before checking in on one another. Birthday dinners, Christmas mornings, champagne that flowed freely, music, dancing and daughter Tina always had a new song in her heart to sing for her mom.  Tina and her mom sang “The Rose” by Bette Midler as a duet many times and it will always be a fond memory. Carol and her mom shared a love of sewing and between the two of them they could make anything. Sandra and Carol worked together at their Bridal shop called Promises in Torrance.

Sandra was very devoted to her grandchildren, attending all of their school activities and teaching them how to make gingerbread houses every Christmas. She was also happy to have two great granddaughters, one from each of her grandchildren.  She always loved little children and had a special way of making them feel like they were extra special by giving her undivided attention to them. Their years of growth are documented on a section of wall in her hallway.

Her dancing shoes and a split of champagne awaited her as she left this world as we know it. I’m sure the angels were baking cupcakes just for her; which is what she thought happened when the sky turned pink during a sunset.  She would look up to the sky and say with certainty, “Oh look, the angels are baking cupcakes today.”

You were everything we needed mom and there is no one who compares to you for us! xx/oo

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  1. In the words sung by Adele…
    I miss my mother
    I miss it when
    Life was a party to be thrown

    Everlasting Love,
    Your Daughter Carol Renee’
    XX/OO

    P.S. I am open and already receiving all the signs you are sending me. You are magical and unforgettable to me💜

  2. candle 2Remembering so many wonderful times at the beach house in Hermosa. You always opened your home and heart to all us. Rest in Peace sweet Cindy.
    Much Love Always,
    Bethel

    • I’m so touched you signed off as Bethel💗 many, many memories at the beach house! Thank you for your friendship, thank you for asking me to take you to visit her, thank you for your text and phone calls to hold my hand from near or far. You are such a true friend to me!
      Love, Carol

  3. candle 6Sandy it was an Honor to have known you! I bet you and Bobby are about ready to go on a Cruise! Tell him I said hello.

    • Thank you my dearest and treasured friend for always being there to encourage me when my life turns upside down. Without your support and never ending friendship I may not have survived. You have been instrumental in boosting my well being with your wise and kind words at just the right times. My mom admired you in so many ways and held you in the highest regard. You and Bobbie could always find something to laugh and joke about. I hope they are sailing the “SEVEN SEAS” and drinking champagne!
      Very truly💜

  4. candle 4Knowing someone I never met, but yet had the opportunity to get to know. Carol Renee’ “Ms. Higgins” shared so many stories and wonderful memories of you and your life as her mother, best friend and matriarch of your family. I shed a tear and a smile for you Sandra. The tear for the person I never met but had the privilege of getting to know. The smile in the knowledge that god wrapped his loving arms around you and took you home to be reunited with all you’re loved ones who went before. Even though we never met, whenever I look up to the sky and see a pink sunset I will think of you.

    An Angel in the clouds,

    Higgins

    • Thank you Higgins for your sentimental words. She was one of a kind, that’s for sure! I will be missing her very much. I know you understood how important she was to me even though you never met. She was the best mom I could have been given💜

      Very Sincerely,
      …Carol

  5. Carol and Tina,
    Your mom lit up every room she walked into with her smile and positivity! I’ll always remember her happily dancing at the family parties. You were both blessed to have had such a wonderful and loving mom, but how lucky was she to have had you as daughters?
    Lots of love to you both!
    Linda

    • Linda, thank you for your beautiful words about my mom! She would be so touched and I am too!

      All three of us were lucky to have each other💜 She made life a magical adventure!

      Hugs!

  6. I feel very fortunate to have known Sandy, she was truly one-of-a-kind! I was always honored that she referred to herself as my part-time-mom. Her annual Christmas Tea was a sight to behold! I think of her often and all of the wonderful times I had with her, Carol and Tina. I picture her pouring champagne in Heaven, after she danced her way through the Pearly Gates!
    Love,
    Mary Webb

  7. candle 2I have a long wonderful history of friendship with my neighbor Cindy.

    We moved on Eleda in 1979 and became next door neighbors to the Gillilands – Cindy and Bob. Cindy and Bob’s children were in their teens or early adulthood while our children were much younger, but that didn’t stop the Gillilands from including our family in their holiday family events. In the 80’s we spent Christmas with Cindy’s parents, Bob’s Mother, Tina, Carol and Bob’s children, and later with their spouses and children. Many Christmas Eves were spent at Cindys enjoying Santa’s (Bob’s) visit. Cindy went out of her way to see that everyone was entertained.

    Cindy will be lovingly remembered for her “Christmas Tea” which she hosted every year. It seemed as if each year Cindy outdid the last for Christmas décor, entertainment, and menu. Thanks to her I have many wonderful memories of these annual events. I believe Cindy began planning for the future Christmas Tea long before the previous year’s event ended!

    One of my last memories that I hold most dear is a visit I had with Cindy at her home. We sat at the window in her dining room— where the “Christmas Tea’s” were held. We held hands and reflected on all the wonderful teas that took place at that table. She then began explaining the sources of her treasured crystal on her window shelves. It amazed me to hear her recalling the source and importance of each crystal treasure. I so treasure my memories of that visit.

    Cindy, until we meet again for that Cup of Christmas Tea,

    Your loving neighbor, Elaine

    • So many wonderful times together to even recount period from 1957 until now we did life together. We had so many times together from teenagers to great grandmother. Rest in peace my Besty forever. I love you so very much Carol and Tina my heart is with you today. Always here for you Jeanne💕❤️💕

  8. Cindy always made me feel like family. Memories of my Christmas’s are only made more special by the time spent with her and her family. No one did Christmas like Cindy! Her enthusiasm was infectious. The months preceding were filled with conversations of new ideas and her latest inspirations from cutting she would take from magazines. We would spend hours over tea, looking through gift catalogs, filling our Christmas gift lists with ideas. So it should be no surprise, that my most precious gift given to me by Cindy, is a Christmas ornament. As she began to decline, our conversations shifted more to memories of the past. Our walks together got slower and shorter and than finally our visits came to just sitting and hold hands. One day she suggested I find something of hers to remember her by. I found a Christmas ornament, a tiny crystal champagne glass with a gold tassel. It is always on display in my china cabinet, and will be proudly hung on my tree this year, in honor of our long and special friendship. May my memories of you never fade, Wendy

  9. Eulogy -Sandy’s Funeral (Nov 19, 2020)

    Sandy and I met in 2006 while walking our dogs. I hadn’t met her prior to this as she live a block below in the neighborhood. She had just gotten a new Shih Tzu puppy called Muffin and was now walking past my house to get to the park. My dog was an Australian Shepherd named Sam. Although Sam was an A-type with any aggressive male dog (I remember breaking up a fight between him and a Rottweiler), Sam was very protective of female dogs, young puppies and small children. Muffin instantly fell in love with Sam.

    Sandy and I were sharing a very similar experience at the time. Sandy’s husband Bob Gilliland was in the last throws of Parkinson’s and heart problems and my wife Shirley was dying of lung cancer. We each had been married to our spouses for over 30 years. While we walked, we traded updates of their debilitating circumstances. In 2006, we once all enjoyed a lunch together at Mimi’s Cafe in Torrance.

    Sandy’s husband Bob died in October 2006. My wife Shirley died in April 2007. A few months after my wife died, Sandy and I started dating. Sandy generously welcomed me into her family and collection of friends and neighbors. We saw each other for 10 years until Sandy broke her hip and entered a rehab facility at Lomita Care in 2017. Following a fire at Lomita Care, she later transferred to the Seacrest facility in San Pedro, CA. I wasn’t able to visit her there. After first breaking her hip, it was discovered that she had contracted Parkinson’s and an attendant aggressive mental deterioration similar to Alzheimer’s.

    Once we began dating, we saw each other almost every day. She would come to watch me in my bowling leagues. We would visit all our friends, neighbors and family members together. We would go to lunch, dinner, or to see a movie. We were constantly in each other’s company, at appointments, medical emergencies, shopping and just goofing around. I like to think we brought joy in each other’s lives. We later discussed marriage but mutually decided it would just complicate or lives and any inheritance issues. Neither one of us wanted to give up our homes.

    Unfortunately, in the last year that we saw each other regularly, she started having delusions and panic attacks. She often was calling the police and fire departments to report perceived threats. The authorities finally referred the calls to me so I could go to her house to calm her down. She now had live -in caregivers (which she somewhat resented in her cherished home). It was so heartbreaking seeing her vivacious personality fade bit by bit. As some of you know, I have been writing poetry since 2011 and wrote a poem called Dissolution (AllPoetry.com/allanbrunmier) about Sandy’s condition. I also wrote a poem about how it came to be that Sandy was known both by the name Cindy as well as Sandy.

    I have had three love affairs in my life, the first being a 30 something older sister of my best friend in high school when I was 19, the second a fellow divorced worker with two children whom I finally married and, lastly, Sandra Gilliland. I will always remember Sandra as warm and loving and who loved to laugh. I marveled at her creative skills at decorating and sewing. Of all of my loss experiences in life, because of her rapid personality decline in a year’s time, Sandy’s was the most devastating. I’m reconciled with the idea that Sandy has at last found peace and will miss her until I die. The older we get, the more we realize that it’s a shrinking world we inhabit, and we must cherish those we love more intently. Sandy and I had two great cruises we shared, one to Alaska and another to New York/Quebec. It’s comforting to know we all share her final one.

    Allan Brunmier

  10. Dissolution

    Vile, vile proteins corroding her brain
    Synapses misfiring, ego down the drain

    Heartbreaking to see her disappear
    Bit by bit, especially the last year

    Traces of her charm still come and go
    Changing but dreadfully slow

    First it was, “Where is my coat?”
    Then, “How do you use the remote?”

    Mood swings from laughter to tears
    Eroding into halluncinatory fears

    Angry transferences from caregiver to caregiver
    What was an emotional ocean, now an unchecked river

    No longer wakens with the dawn
    Where has this lovely lady gone

    We all want her back
    But slipping through the proverbial crack

    Alas, I know the end is near
    Perhaps in this very year

    She’s becoming paper thin
    A mask over empty skin

    I miss her and my fading memory of her
    Now mere fragments and diminishing blur

  11. Sandy

    Cindy or Sandy
    Both are handy
    Both love chocolate candy

    For her every day was a fun workday
    There was no quiet Sunday
    Or dreaded Monday

    Young Sandy became Cindy
    When, at Coffee Dans, a boss so lame
    Called her by the other name

    Soon customers called her Cindy
    And not wanting to be windy
    Sandy accepted “Cindy”

    Now neighbors and friends both
    Know her name as either
    So that even under oath
    They nominally believe her

    And although we think of her as pure
    She’s a tasty morsel in any epicure
    Her smile is a fetching lure
    Whether sassy or demure

    Whether you know her as Cindy or Sandy
    There’s one thing for sure
    Life with her is dandy
    For any misery she’s the cure

    So if I had a choice to pick
    To decide a name that’ll stick
    I’d opt rather for the Cindy/Sandy shtick
    I’d permit the dual title
    Because it adds to her enchanting style

  12. candle 7I wanted to share my remembrances of my mom that I read at the funeral.

    I would like to start today with mom’s favorite funeral poem. Oh yes, she had a favorite funeral poem and I thought it should be read today.

    THE DASH
    by Linda Ellis

    I read of a man who stood to speak
    at the funeral of a friend.
    He referred to the dates on the tombstone
    from the beginning… to the end.

    He noted that first came the date of birth
    and spoke of the following date with tears,
    but he said what mattered most of all
    was the dash between those years.

    For that dash represents all the time
    they spent alive on earth
    and now only those who loved them
    know what that little line is worth.

    For it matters not, how much we own,
    the cars… the house… the cash.
    What matters is how we live and love
    and how we spend our dash.

    So think about this long and hard;
    are there things you’d like to change?
    For you never know how much time is left
    that still can be rearranged.

    To be less quick to anger
    and show appreciation more
    and love the people in our lives
    like we’ve never loved before.

    If we treat each other with respect
    and more often wear a smile…
    remembering that this special dash
    might only last a little while.

    So when your eulogy is being read,
    with your life’s actions to rehash,
    would you be proud of the things they say
    about how you lived your dash?

    And I am here to tell you that mom made use of every minute of her dash.

    We are all here today to honor Sandra May Gilliland. Or is it Sandy Gilliland or maybe Cindy Gilliland. I think it is time we clear this up.

    So here’s the story. From the time she was born all the family called her Sandy. But in her late teens mom got a job at a coffee shop.

    The coffee shop already had a waitress named Sandy. The owner of the coffee shop decided to call mom Cindy so there would be no confusion between the two waitresses. Well Cindy stuck, although the family continued to call her Sandy.

    New friends called her Cindy and then when mom started volunteering at Torrance Memorial Hospital, she decided to try using her given name Sandra. The good part is I could always tell how long someone knew her by which name they used. I cannot tell you the amount of times over the years that people would pull me aside and ask I thought your moms name was Cindy or Sandy or Sandra. They were always embarrassed because they thought they were calling her by the wrong name. We all had a good laugh

    Mom was very funny, she was always laughing and having a good time. She would get us laughing at church during a funeral or wedding. We would many times choose to stay home with mom instead of going out with friends. Mom was much more fun.

    One night we went to see “Paint Your Wagon”. It was one of her favorites. Mom and I were walking down the aisle looking for our seats.

    Mom carried the popcorn, and I had the two cokes. Mom stumbled and dumped an entire super large “buttered” popcorn right on top of this lady’s head sitting on the aisle. Mom started laughing so hard that the only words she could get out were “Aren’t you glad it wasn’t the cokes”. We all had a good laugh over the years remembering this and many other funny times just like that.

    Mom was an outstanding cook. She would make everything from scratch. Her table and house decorations looked they were right out of Good Housekeeping. New Year’s Day parties with TVs everywhere, the football pool and amazing food.

    How she put on the News Years Day party after being out all-night New Year’s Eve, we will never know. Let us not forget how much she loved Christmas and the annual Christmas tea. She loved to entertain and was exceptionally good at it.

    Mom was always put together. She was meticulous about her make up and hair. Her clothes were always very cute, and color coordinated and perfectly ironed.

    Carol and I would kid her all the time about how long it took to get ready. She didn’t care. All you have to do is look at all of those photos. It really paid off because she looks sensational in all of them. I guess I should have paid more attention.

    Mom was funny, energetic and a blast to be with. We traveled to many wonderful places, we went to Hawaii every year, we went to Palm Springs, and Las Vegas to see all the shows front row seats where you could “see them sweat”. We had more fun with her then we had with friends our own age.

    Mom was always there to help someone in need. When we were young, she went down to the navel station in Long Beach and asked if there were any sailors that would be away from home during the holidays.

    So Thanksgiving Day two navy boys, Bob and Frankie, joined our family for the holidays. It worked out so well that they continued to join our family every holiday over the next three years until they were discharged.

    Thirty years later when we took a trip to New York City we got to see them again. We had a reunion with their parents, their siblings, their wives and children. Both mothers thanked mom for opening her door to their boys so far away from home. We all had a nice lunch and had fun remembering all the good times from the old days.

    Mom was very creative. She loved to redecorate her home. I guess I never really appreciated how amazing she was until I started to work on my own home. All the things in the magazine that they were calling new and innovative mom did 30 years ago. The shower made of glass blocks without a door. Two shower heads not just one. A baking center in the kitchen. She was definitely ahead of her time. Our home was absolutely beautiful and a place to be proud of.

    I bet you didn’t know that for the first few years of our lives. Or as long as she could get away with it. Mom ordered our ice cream cones with no ice cream! Let that sink in…The girl who loves ice cream served us (her children) ice cream cones without the ice cream. We of course at that age didn’t know any better until one day we got the real thing and that was the end of that.

    Someone said to me “There is nobody like a mother.” They were right. There is never going to be anyone in your life that loves you, supports you and is your biggest fan.

    She is there when you are sick, happy and sad. She is there through thick and thin. Mom loved us unconditionally.

    Mom was always there and no matter what, you could count on her, to be beside you all the way.

    Mom had a saying around her kitchen. It was a place where friends gathered and ate and drank and just had a good time. It read…

    Burgundy makes you think of silly things,
    Bordeaux makes you talk about them;
    Champagne makes you do them.

    Mom drank a lot of champagne

    Mom, I know you are dancing
    and drinking champagne in Heaven
    You will always be in my heart.
    I love you.

    Mom, I can’t say that I never told you how much I loved you and appreciated you, because I told you all the time. I always wanted you to know how much I love you.

    You will be greatly missed.

    Love, Tina

  13. Dearest Carol and Tina,
    We just learned that your loving Mom has passed. I read the obituary and watched the beautiful video. Our hearts go out to you both. Such beautiful memories, hold them close. I know
    she will hold such a tender void in the family. I didn’t know she was
    Sick. May she Rest In Peace. Please know we’re thinking of you.
    Nita and Tom 💕

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