Sandra “Sandy” Eleanore Palmisani was born in 1949 in Seattle, Washington, to Fred and Yula Polk. Fred was a UW graduate Professional Engineer, WW2 naval officer and lifelong adventurer, explorer and sailor who raised Sandy to love all land and sea adventures. As a civil service engineer Fred moved the family to live on the west coast, east coast and most notably, the Marshall Islands in the equatorial western Pacific. Sandy and her brothers spent 3 years swimming in the lagoon at Kwajalein Atoll, and learned sailing in native catamarans. Her fondest memories included skin diving with the sea turtles, collecting beach shells, and rowing a glass bottom boat in the warm waters of Kwajalein. When she returned to the States for ninth grade she was the fastest swimmer on the girls swim team. She also enjoyed water ballet. She polished her sailing skills in San Francisco Bay, Virginia, Caribbean. At age 18 she was the first lady skipper in the Potomac River Winter Sailing Series. She continued sailing in adult life in club racing at Oceanside, California.
Sandy was always artistically inclined and spent much of her young adulthood making art. She pursued an education in art, and made works out of many diverse media throughout her lifetime. Works ranged from watercolors, to foundry sculpture, photography to beading, and her favorite and most recent works were driftwood sculptures from the beaches of Lopez Island.
Sandy had a whimsical sense of humor, and was devoted to providing generous hospitality to friends and family. She loved to create a warm home and atmosphere of love and comfort, replete with fresh baked goods, warm soups, and fanciful jello creations. She was a warm and gregarious woman who loved world travel and experiences more than expensive material items. She believed in social justice and ecological preservation and spent a great deal of time in natural surroundings. In her work life, she was a design engineer for 30 years, which enabled her to homestead land in the sagebrush hills of San Diego County and build a totally solar home in Rainbow, California.
Sandy came to Lopez Island with her husband, Vernon Norberg in 2003 and purchased a small piece of heaven on Hilltop Way in which to retire. Sandy retired in 2009 and spent her time “punching the clock” in her art studio when she wasn’t walking hand in hand with Vern at the Otis Perkins tombolo. She was very proud of her daughter, Nikyta Palmisani, who she raised to be like her: independent, creative, and deeply caring for the world around her. Sandy passed gracefully in her home on the Spring Equinox, March 21, 2017, after her battle with cancer. She will always be in the golden ocean of our memories, with the wind in her sails and the sun at her back, head lifted proudly as she charts unknown seas into new discoveries.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Sandy on Sunday April 9th at noon at the Lopez Community Center; potluck, bring your own place settings.