FREDERICK, MD - Shirley M. Sandage, a native of Mason City, passed away on June 27, 2012, at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Md. A Service of Remembrance will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday, September 22, 2012, at Major Erickson Funeral Home, 111 N. Pennsylvania Avenue – Mason City, with Pastor Jeni Bohls of St. James Lutheran Church officiating. A gathering of family and friends will be held one hour prior to the service. Inurnment will take place at the Rock Grove Cemetery in Nora Springs, IA. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the “Garrity/Sandage ‘Door Opener’ Scholarship Fund,” North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City, Iowa, 50401. Shirley Farrer Sandage was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1927. In 1946, she married Richard E. Sandage, Sr. They raised 3 sons, Richard E. Sandage, Jr., (Frederick, MD) John Byron, (Vienna, Austria) and Scott Alan (Pittsburgh, PA). For more than four decades, Ms. Sandage was an advocate for invisible Americans – the needy, the powerless; the fearful at local, state, and national levels. Prior to her retirement in 1996, she oversaw the activities of James S. Brady, former Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan at the National Organization on Disability (NOD) in Washington, DC. She directed his “Calling on America” Campaign to increase opportunities for people with disabilities and organized a nationwide network of 4,500 cities, towns and counties to achieve its aims. She further organized a network of 45 of the nation’s largest associations and organizations to participate in the campaign. Before moving to NOD, Ms. Sandage served as the US Field Representative for the Christian Children’s Fund, an international child-sponsorship organization. She opened its US national headquarters in Washington area supervising the work of regional offices in Rapid City, SD, Tahlequah, OK and Jackson, MS. In this position, she designed and directed a national study to pinpoint the location of American children living in extreme poverty. In 1980 Ms. Sandage was appointed as Executive Director of the White House Mini-Conference on Older Women, resulting in the establishment of the Older Women’s League as a national membership organization dedicated solely to the needs of mid-life and older women. She was a founding member of its first Board of Directors and in 1983 became its second Executive Director, doubling its membership in 2 years. During her tenure, she directed a national campaign to focus public attention on issues related to Social Security, pension reform and access to adequate health care. She was a member of the national Women’s Round Table, an ad-hoc group of national leaders in the women’s movement. In 1976, Ms. Sandage and a friend, Margaret Garrity, co-founded “The Door Opener” in Mason City, as a drop-in counseling center for women. The Center achieved national recognition as a model for assisting women to become economically independent and free of welfare assistance. For this work, in 1980 Ms. Sandage was nominated for a Winthrop Rockefeller Award for Distinguished Rural Service. In 1981, she was selected by the US China Committee on Cultural Relations at the United Nations as one of 9 women of an exchange delegation between the US and the Peoples Republic of China. She was a founding member of the national Displaced Homemakers Network, Inc., served 3 years as its President and was elected to the Board of Directors of Extended Family Enterprises, Inc., in Jonesboro, AR. Prior to founding The Door Opener, Sandage and Garrity studied Iowa industries using and disposing of hazardous materials. Their report led to legislation regulating disposal in Iowa. From 1972 to 1975 Ms. Sandage worked for the US Department of Labor in Washington, DC as a rural expert on issues related to welfare reform in the work incentive program. Later she was a negotiator representing the US Secretary of Labor in a landmark civil rights case heard before Judge Charles Richey in the US District Court of the District of Columbia. She wrote the guidelines reorganizing the US Employment Service redirecting and expanding service delivery in Job Service offices across the Country. She first moved to Washington, DC in 1969 as the Deputy Director of the Migrant Research Project of the Manpower, Evaluation and Development Institute. She co-authored the first national study to gather demographic, social, and economic characteristics of migrant farm workers. Ms. Sandage will also be remembered as founder and first Executive Director of the Migrant Action Program, a multi-state agency headquartered in Mason City to provide educational and medical services to migrant farm worker families. After her retirement in 1996, Ms. Sandage continued volunteer work in Frederick. She designed and taught “Tales for Grandchildren” for 12 years for the Institute for Learning in Retirement at Frederick Community College as well as “Power Skirts” a course bringing women who changed the course of social justice in America to Frederick. She authored a regular column in Most, a magazine published in Frederick. A long-time member of the Frederick County Senior Recreation Council (SRC), she served as its chairperson for 6 years. She was a member of the Frederick County C. Burr Artz Public Library Board of Trustees. As a member of the Frederick County Commission on Aging, Shirley wrote the 2004 report, “Senior Voices of Frederick County, Maryland,” examining the quality of life of its senior citizens. She was appointed to the Frederick County Adult Guardianship Review Board, and the Frederick County Human Relations Commission, her last term as chairperson. She served the City of Frederick as a member of the Personnel Review Board, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Weinberg Center for the Performing Arts. Honored by the University of Iowa at Iowa City as an outstanding Iowa woman, her published and unpublished papers are preserved at the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University Library in Iowa City. In addition to her volunteer work, Shirley enjoyed travel. She visited all 50 states, circumvented the globe, stood on all 7 continents and visited in excess of 60 countries. Shirley was preceded in death by her husband Richard, her parents, Jack and Flossie Farrer, her sister Joy Farrer Swab and her nephew Kenneth Swab. She is survived by her sons, her grandchildren, Autumn, Honolulu, HI and Christopher, Stafford, VA as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Inurnment will take place at the Rock Grove Cemetery in Nora Springs, IA
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the “Garrity/Sandage ‘Door Opener’ Scholarship Fund,” North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City, Iowa, 50401
A gathering of family and friends will be held one hour prior to the service
A Service of Remembrance will be held at 10:00 AM on Saturday, September 22, 2012, at Major Erickson Funeral Home