SANDRA MARGARET BIRNIE (nee Dea)
Masters in Social Work (University of Toronto)
Sandra passed away in Toronto, Ontario on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at the age of 73. A cherished mother, sister, daughter, aunt and dear friend to so many, Sandra was the last in her generation of the Dea family and was predeceased by her sister Diana Ford, her brother John Dea, her father Tom Dea and mother Lucy Maud Dea (Milne). Sandra leaves behind her three sons Thomas Andrew Benjamin Birnie (Gail), James Robert McLaren Birnie (Laura) and David Wilfrid Nicholas Birnie (Carla) and her grandchildren Lochlan, Wilfrid, Kieran, Otis and Marjorie. She will be dearly missed by her sister’s children and their families: Katherine Halberg (Chris), Heather Ford (Collin) and David Ford (Christina).
Sandra was born on November 12, 1945 to Tom and Lucy Dea in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a young girl she immigrated with her family to Toronto, Canada where she would spend the majority of her life. In school, Sandra excelled at sports. She was a cheerleader and played on her high school field hockey team. In 1981, Sandra moved to Papua New Guinea for three years with her, then, husband Bob and their two boys, soon to be three, to work in a small rural community. Sandra dedicated her working life to helping others as a social worker. Sandra touched the lives of many through her work with organizations including: the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; Children’s Aid Society; the Latin American Women’s Group (Danforth); Cecil Street Community Centre; United Way of Greater Toronto; St. Christopher House (West Neighbourhood House); and, Youth Link.
A woman of inspired curiosity and a generous spirit, Sandra’s life stands as an example of the beauty and great value in connecting with and appreciating the simple pleasures life offers us. Food is to be enjoyed, nature is to be explored and friends are to be cherished.
Sandra loved to cook, she was always searching out new recipes. Even more important to her than making good food, was its power to bring you closer to those you love. Family dinners around the kitchen table recounting the events of the day; pot lucks with friends; big holiday meals with those she loved most.
Sandra loved nature. As an avid canoer, she gave her boys the gift of many summer sunsets over remote lakes and shared glasses of wine with good friends in Temagami, the French River, the interior of Algonquin Park and so many other treasured places in the Ontario wilderness. Sandra had a green thumb. From early spring to late fall she would most often be found working away in one of her many garden beds, be it tending to flowers at her home, taming the brush at her cottage, or tilling the soil at her vegetable garden plot. Her care and patience with her plants a reflection the way she approached all those she met. She had so many beautiful friendships that flourished over many years along with all those beautiful gardens.
“These words can hardly do justice to the person Sandra was or the life she lived, but may they stand as a small reminder to us that we were lucky enough to have known her. Godspeed Sandy. We love you.”
The family will receive friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) on Thursday, January 10th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. A service will be held at Eastminster United Church, 310 Danforth Avenue, on Saturday, January 12th at 12:00 p.m. A reception will follow. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Donations in Sandra’s memory may be made to F.P.W.R. (Foundation for Prader-Willi Research) or O.P.W.S.A. (Ontario Prader-Willi Syndrome Association). Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymilesnewbigging.com.