Sandra Kay (Reuther) Kappes passed away Oct. 16, 2023, in Sun City, Ariz. She is survived by her husband Terry; daughter Kristi Kappes; son Jon (Janelle) Kappes, grandchildren Carter and Halle; son Joshua (Jessica) Kappes; sister Marietta (Ted) Faszer; niece Cathy (Brian) Beachy, grandnephews Zachary and Benjamin; niece Debra (Christopher) Faszer-McMahon; many loving cousins; and beloved pup Huggy Bear.
Born Sept. 26, 1951, in Edgeley, North Dakota, to Herbert and Edna Reuther, Sandy grew up on the Reuther farm east of Ashley, N.D., milking cows and driving the tractor on land homesteaded by her great-grandparents. After graduating from Ashley High School in 1969, Sandy attended Hillcrest Christian College in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and completed her Bachelor of Arts (Christian Education; Evangelical Teacher Training) at Vennard College (Iowa) in 1974.
She and future husband Terry grew up attending Ashley Emmanuel Evangelical United Brethren Church, and became close during a 1973 road trip to Canada for the wedding of Sandy’s college roommate. They were married June 7, 1975, and moved to Tulsa, Okla., where Terry was attending Oral Roberts University. In 1977, the young couple moved to a small apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and in 1978 (a week before Kristi was born), moved 12 miles northwest to their first home in Crooks. Jon joined the family in 1980; in 1984 the family moved back to Sioux Falls, and Josh was born later that year. Terry’s career in banking took the family next to Billings, Mont. (1988), and then to Grand Junction, Colo. (1991). In 1999, Sandy, Terry and Josh returned once again to Sioux Falls, while Kristi and Jon stayed in Colorado for college. After a brief stay in Wausau, Wisc., Sandy and Terry moved to Phoenix in 2004, starting a new chapter of their life in the Valley of the Sun.
Originally a stay-at-home mom, Sandy enjoyed volunteering at church–leading Sparks in Awana, organizing “Salt Shakers” dinner groups, playing with the handbell choir, and even directing a children’s musical (“Short Stops!”). In the early ‘90s she was instrumental in bringing Missoula Children’s Theater (mctinc.org) to Grand Junction by applying for a local arts grant. She instilled a love of music in her children, spent many years organizing worship through her involvement with The Gideons Auxiliary groups in South Dakota, Montana and Colorado, and sang in choir at First Baptist Church and North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, and at Palmcroft Church in Phoenix.
In 1994, Sandy started working in customer service at the Grand Junction JCPenneys, later working at Penney’s stores in both Sioux Falls and Phoenix. She was secretary at First Baptist Church, Sioux Falls from 1999-2003. In June 2022, Sandy retired from Northwest Christian School after 16 years as the elementary school secretary. She was dearly loved by her NCS family including students, parents, volunteers and staff.
Whether it was a pandemic-postponed family trip to Hawaii to celebrate her 70th birthday, adventures in Florida to watch her granddaughter Halle’s national dance competition (with a pit stop at Daytona International Speedway!), or a recent trip to the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, Sandy loved to travel near and far. Many a long weekend was spent in Sedona, Ariz., or at the Cibola Vista Resort in North Phoenix. You could often find her on the patio with coffee (or wine!) reading a book (often in preparation for the monthly Lit’n’Lattes book club she attended). Favorite authors included Catherine Marshall, Richard Paul Evans, Debbie Macomber, Louise Penny, and Jodi Picoult.
In retirement, Sandy enjoyed taking classes offered by the ASU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (https://lifelonglearning.asu.edu/) and recently began volunteering with Hospice of the Valley. She loved hummingbirds, manicures, reading and enjoying sunsets from her patio room, cheering on her grandchildren at their various activities, meeting friends for coffee, watching sports (go D’Backs!), Nascar and PBR rodeo events on TV, and exploring antique shops with Kristi.
As a young girl, Sandy dreamed of being a missionary in Africa. Though she never traveled to that continent, and her “mission field” looked a bit different, Sandy’s life was a testament to trusting in God’s plan, no matter where it took her. From the hills to the prairies, from the mountains to the desert, Sandy’s unwavering faith in Jesus and God’s unfailing love poured over us all.
Isaiah 40:31 was Sandy’s favorite Bible verse: “Those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not be weary–they will walk and not faint.”