ST. ALBANS — It is with great sorrow that we must report the passing of our beloved sister, Sandra Lee (Rath) Knapp on Sunday, the 15th of January. Sandy was born Dec. 26, 1939, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, the first child of Dr. Walter H. Rath and Florence Ann (Peterson) Rath. When the new parents brought their baby home to Vermont by plane, it made many newspapers, as Sandy was the youngest person at that time to have flown on a commercial airliner.
Sandy had her mother and father all to herself for only two years, as her new brother Peter was born on Jan. 7, 1942. WWII interrupted life for the entire nation and it was no different for our family with father serving in Patton’s Third Army as a combat surgeon. He would be gone from 1942 until 1945 and mother was left with raising their two young children alone. But young Sandy would rise to the challenge and became almost a surrogate mother for Peter, who would remember that she was the toughest kid on the block, ready to pitch into any boy that picked on her younger brother! Always adventuresome and curious Sandy, who had seen pictures of paratroopers, led 3-year-old Peter up to the porch roof and the two prepared to make their first jump using an umbrella for a parachute. Fortunately, mom had other ideas.
When father finally returned home in 1945, Sandy was now in school. She would prove to be an excellent student throughout her life and was salutatorian of her graduating BFA class in 1958. In the years immediately after the war, the family settled into peacetime life with father returning to his medical practice. A second brother, Timothy, was born on Sept. 8, 1948, and gave Sandy another chance to mother a new child.
After high school, Sandy attended Bucknell University and studied briefly in Europe as well. She also studied at Katharine Gibbs College in NYC and then took the position of executive secretary at Niagara University in Lewiston, N.Y.
On May 31, 1969, Sandy married C. Lyndall Knapp, a chemist and research scientist at Bell Aerospace. They would be married for 21 years, when Lynn died in 1990.
Sandy became assistant curator at the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University and continued in that position until retirement. Always interested in furthering her education, she even went on to take a bachelor’s degree in French from Niagara. After leaving the university, she had an opportunity to travel again and visited Europe and Alaska, with Egypt and Sweden as two of her favorite places.
Survivors include her brother, Peter C. Rath and his daughter, Kirsten Belrose and her husband, Jeff, and their children, Jeffrey, Hannah and Olivia and son, Eric Rath and his children, Mason and Mia and brother, Timothy W. and his wife, Donna K. Rath.
In addition to her parents and her husband, Lynn, Sandy was predeceased by her sister-in-law, Patricia Rath on March 25, 2013.
When Sandy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she moved back to Vermont and spent the last six years of her life, first at Ave Maria and then at Our Lady of the Meadows in Richford. Although her last years were difficult because of the ravages of this most terrible of diseases, she received the very best and loving care possible.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend calling hours on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Heald Funeral Home, 87 South Main Street, St. Albans.
A funeral service will follow at 3 p.m. with the Reverend Maurice J. Roy officiating. Interment will be later this spring in the Rath family lot in Greenwood Cemetery.
As an alternative to flowers, memorials in Sandy’s name may be made to the Franklin County Home Health Agency, 3 Home Health Circle, St. Albans, Vermont 05478 or Our Lady of the Meadows, 1 Pinnacle Meadows, Richford, Vermont 05476.
To send Sandy’s family a written expression of sympathy, please go to her on-line guest book at www.healdfuneralhome.com.