On June 16, 2009, Roberta "Sandy"
Sandburg, the founder of the Alice B Awards, lost
her battle with lung cancer. She was 72. Her partner
of 36 years, Kay Percy, was at Sandy's side in the
hospital during the final weeks of her life.
Sandy envisioned the Alice B Awards a decade
or so ago, and in 2004 decided to make the awards
a reality by committing funds from "an anonymous
donor." A lifelong reader who was passionate
about lesbian fiction, Sandy wanted to thank and
reward the authors who had given her so much joy,
and she did so by establishing the Alice B fund
and gathering a group of women who became the
Alice B Readers Appreciation Committee.
Sandy bought and read pretty much every lesbian
novel and story/anthology collection that came
out each year and devoted an entire room in her
house to her library. She didn't accept "freebie"
copies from authors, publishers, or fans because
she wanted to offer financial support to the creators
of the works. To the end, she was a staunch supporter
of lesbian writing.
She also read a lot of other materials and was
a political force to be reckoned with. Sandy's
beliefs were strong, especially in the areas of
human, civil, and women's rights, and she voiced
her support with passion and care.
In addition to reading, Sandy had many interests
including raising mini-horses with her twin brother
who had the property to stable them, and Sandy
and Kay spent a lot of time there. Sandy also
loved to design buildings. She'd supervise all
aspects and help with the labor to construct barns,
additions, gazebos, woodsheds, etc. One of her
dreams was to live in a trailer on a site while
she helped to build a house. Later, when the building
was completed, she said wryly that it wasn't near
as much fun as she thought it would be.
Second only to reading (and Kay, of course),
Sandy loved music. She played guitar and sang
with a lovely, husky contralto. She shared that
love of music with others, swapping music, singing
duets, and enjoying the deep tones of her trusty
Her partner Kay said that Sandy was brave to
the end, despite radiation treatments and time
spent on the ventilator. In her life, Sandy overcame
many obstacles, but the mass in her lungs was
something she couldn't defeat.
Anais Nin once wrote: "People living deeply
have no fear of death." Sandy wasn't afraid.
She lived each day fully. She lived deeply - and
passionately - and she loved deeply as well. Her
love and humor and generous spirit will be missed
by all who knew her.
Sandy wanted to see the Alice B Awards go on,
so the Committee will be working for the rest
of 2009 and into the future to honor her wish.
You can continue to carry on her legacy by buying,
reading, and praising lesbian fiction. That's
what she would want.