A Kansas native revered by admirers throughout Middle America and folks inhabiting a number of dots on the globe, bid farewell Aug. 18, huddled with family and friends.
Devoted to her church and faith, she built a life around a large congregation from Satanta, her devotion to family and other children of God on several continents.
Survivors said Sandy Decker no doubt found a warm embrace from her maker in Heaven, her parents, Tommy and Mary K. Lewis, her beloved husband, Larry Decker and others from a large family who preceded Sandy’s passing.
After a long arduous battle with Parkinson’s and cancer, Sandy’s life on Earth closed at age 81 at Legacy Suites in Satanta, but her memory endures.
A celebration of her life is planned at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 27 at the Pleasant Prairie Church of God, rural Satanta.
Sandra (Sandy) Lewis was born at St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City, Kansas, on Oct. 15, 1941.
Her birth certificate contains no middle name. As her father reportedly quipped that they were “too poor and could only afford one name.”
Raised on a farm, some of Sandy Lewis’s childhood shifted from Kansas to California to Chicago and Virginia, while her father was in the United States Navy during World War II.
She started school in Escondido, CA, eventually moved back to Kansas where she attended several schools, Pleasant Prairie and Valley School (country schools), Alta Brown in Garden City until fifth grade when the family moved to the farm, and she attended the “One room” Pleasant Prairie school with eight grades. Sandy’s class included only one other girl, Dorothy Oliver. Sandy was a “tomboy” and loved to play Cowboys and Indians. Her idol was Roy Rogers and even called him Dr. Roy Rogers because his name was Dr. Roy Leopold. After begging to milk the cows her dad finally acquiesced. She didn’t realize the gravity of the request until learning that. Cows never take a day off. In fact, they require milking “twice a day,” seven days a week, according to her eulogy. Milking became her “job” until Sandy entered Business College in Wichita, KS. She also aggressively campaigned to take piano lessons at age seven. Being the outdoors type, practicing one hour a day wasn’t exactly what Sandy enjoyed. Needless to say, there were consequences and very often tears over piano practice, but she made her mother proud. Sandy went on to play difficult pieces, continued playing at church services and other gatherings. She did make her mother proud. Her mother always wanted to play the piano, so she made sure that her daughters learned. Sandy’s sister, Jeannie, was a natural and loved playing the piano. During her four years at Satanta High School, Sandy met her “lifelong” sweetheart. She and Larry were married Aug. 28, 1960, at ages 18 and 19, respectively. Their journey together was not without challenges, but Sandy and Larry were blessed with three children. The first two, Jody and Kristi, were raised on the family farm in Kansas, and their son, Tommy, finished junior and senior high school while they lived in Evergreen, CO. “It was a very difficult transition, but God never let go of us and we endured through and never let go of Him or each other,” Sandy wrote in her memoir. “My husband went into the arms of Jesus January 30, 2009. We were married 48-plus years. “Our marriage was built on the Lord Jesus Christ and our foremost desire was to serve Him. We enjoyed unity that is important to marriage. He was my prayer partner the spiritual leader of our home.” Family was paramount to the Deckers, along with the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Sandy and Larry instilled a love for the outdoors in their family. They spent many summers in the family cabin in southern Colorado, in the shadow of Spanish Peaks, often with Sandy’s mother, the late Mary Lewis. Sandy owned a house cleaning business for more than 25 years and did a lot of mission work around the world with a number of churches and organizations. “Mom was a wonderful loving person,” said her middle child, Kristi Kelling, of Sublette. “She had more energy than most kids,” she said. “She did work camps, bible schools, rice distributions, worked at the women’s shelter and taught Sunday School.”
Survivors includes, a son, Tommy Decker, wife Lena Decker, of Parker, CO; two daughters, Jody Willimon, of Omaha, NE; Kristi Kelling and husband Tobin Kelling, of Sublette, KS., sister, Jeannie King and husband Carroll, Scottsdale, AZ.; grandson Dereck Willimon and wife Tesla and their children, Brandon and Rayland Willimon, granddaughter, Brooke Willimon-Pappas and husband Dennis, Omaha, NE., grandson, Hunter Willimon and wife Melissa, Omaha, NE.; and their children, Avery and Theron Willimon, Aaron, Kyleigh, Dallas, Ella and Willow O’Connor; grandson, Parker Kelling and wife Lani, Satanta, KS., and their children, Kaysen, Kayden, Kayleb Kelling; grandson, Grant Kelling, Satanta, KS., grandsons, Joey Decker and wife Erica, Cleveland, OK., Jake Decker, Parker, CO., granddaughter, Julia Decker, Parker, CO.; nieces, Amy Callaway and husband Rob, Page, AZ., Julie Eide, Willmar, Mn.; great nieces, Mia Eide and Lizzie Eide and other relatives and friends.
Sandy’s ashes will be spread with Larry’s in Satanta and at the family cabin in Colorado.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for TransformAsia, PO Box 440283, Aurora, CO. 80044
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Robson Funeral Home of Satanta is in charge of arrangements.