Sandy Morgan, formerly of Emily, MN passed from this earth peacefully on November 9, 2022. She had been living at the Birchwood Senior Living Center in Forest Lake for the past three years.
Sandy lived her 74 years with cerebral palsy (CP), but it hardly defined her. She lived her life fully, and any constraints her condition imposed upon her were overcome by her will to do exactly what she set out to do.
Sandy received her Bachelor of Arts from Southwest Minnesota University in 1973. She immediately put her degree to work, and for the next eight years worked as a teacher assistant for the St. Paul, MN schools. She later worked with the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living and wrote manuals for independent living for the Minnesota Department of Education. Her typing was painstakingly slow because of the CP, but her determination to finish what she started always won out. In more recent years she wrote two books, “Dance of Victory”(2010) and “Why I Wiggle”(2012) which is a book to educate kids about CP.
Sandy received the Miss Wheelchair Minnesota Achievement Award in 1979 and the Governor’s State Victory Award—the first in Minnesota—in 1988. She was a strong advocate for the disabled and volunteered with every organization which shared her zeal to help others gain independence in their lives.
Life was not all work, and she had dreams that were fun, too. She fulfilled one of those dreams through a tandem skydive just a few years ago. She enjoyed traveling, and visited several US states, including Hawaii. Sandy had an amazing sense of humor, and if you listened closely, you were always rewarded with a great punchline.
Sandy and her husband, Rod Morgan, lived in Fifty Lakes, MN for many years before moving to Emily. She remained active in helping local agencies there—especially as secretary of the Lions Club—which was a big part of her life.
Sandy was preceded in death by her mother and father, Myrtle (Autrey) Anderson, born in Homerville, GA, and Ray Anderson, born in Cloquet, MN as well as her nephew Peter Anderson, the son of her brother Paul and his wife Joan. Sandy leaves her husband, Rod, brothers Rick (Pat) and Paul (Joan); and nieces Lisa (Tony) Abernathy, Laura (Josh) Espy, and Natalie (Casey) Whitaker and their families: grand nieces and nephews Owen and Evan Abernathy and Olivia, Isabella, and Danielle Espy. She is also survived by stepsons Bill Morgan and Tom Morgan and their families.
Sandy really let nothing hold her back in life. Her message to each of us is to do the same.
Her poem included at the beginning of Dance of Victory says it all:
By Sandy Morgan
I am from the ancestral boat ride across the harsh Atlantic waters through sleet and rain holding dreams of a brave new land of freedom.
I am Viking strong and Virgo tough and these ‘ol eyes have seen enough
I am from a human existence that came at exactly the right time and in perfection.
I am from a severe disability, a diamond encrusted in coal; just as I am from an incredible mind.
A mover and shaker, from muscles that spasm and jerk.
I am from the boxing arena - an Ali with a cause - defending my right to life, protecting my self-respect.
I am from the lion’s den -a radical sit-in - a governor’s office - a Rosa Parks in wheelchair.
I am from a heart of independence, an owner of a business.
I am from the glistening, hard wood dance floor – rocking and rolling to my own drum.
I am from the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. A purple gown draped over broken limbs - the first Victory Award Winner from MN - “overcoming disability”.
People look at me, they call me broken. They don’t see inside my head. They can’t see past the chair of wheels and how I must be fed.
Is it disability or perfection within a box?
Although these things are all where I’m from - they do not make me who “I am”, for whom “I am” came long before.
I am Sandra Raye Anderson Morgan…
A beloved, inspired child of the universe