I lost a good friend this week when the city recorder in La Grande, Sandy Lund, died suddenly from a blood clot following surgery. Sandy was more than a valued colleague. She was a confidante with whom, over the course of ten years, I had daily conversations about work-related issues and shared countless thoughts about family, friends, and the state of the world.
We often spend more time with work friends than we do with lifelong friends or even members of our family. I had more interactions with Sandy than I’ve had with my sister over the past 20 years, mostly because of proximity. Sandy never forgot a birthday or anniversary, and we called each other every month or two just to stay in touch. She had a standing invitation to visit us in Albany, and I used to tell her that we turned the porch light on every night in expectation of her arrival. I know she planned to visit, but it was just something that never quite happened.
Facebook allowed us to share photos and keep track of the events in each of our lives. Sandy’s son, Thomas, was the center of her universe; and I was able to see him graduate from college and go through Army training thanks to the magic of social media. She would often comment on pictures of grandchildren or various trips that I posted. Sandy’s other passion was the City of La Grande. I believe she worked there for about 27 years, and she was completely committed to fulfilling her responsibilities. I never had to worry about agendas, meeting minutes, council packets, and the many essential tasks Sandy oversaw. Despite our friendship, I always knew that Sandy’s first loyalty was to the City and making sure we fulfilled our responsibilities to the Council and citizens.
I am reasonably sure Sandy would not be pleased with a maudlin recounting of her many virtues. She was a strong-willed person who had a low tolerance level for incompetence, laziness, and ignorance. Although we shared many common opinions, I tended to be a little less judgmental about other people, which sometimes led to intense discussions. I think one of the reasons we became close friends is that we knew we could count on each other to tell the truth and give an honest opinion.
I will miss Sandy, just as I miss Dick Ebbert, Ralph Reid, and Doug Killin, who passed away while serving the City of Albany. My life is enriched every day by my associations and friendships at work. Great people like Sandy provide inspiration, hope, humor, guidance, and friendship that make the challenges easier to overcome and the celebration of the accomplishments more worthwhile.