It is with great sadness that we share the news that Alexandra Leslie passed away on June 29, 2019. She was known by a few names: Sandy, Alexandra, Mom, and Sassa.
Sandy was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1940. After moving around quite a bit, she moved with her parents and younger brother, Tom, to California from Texas and enrolled in Pasadena High School where she was a majorette and most excellent baton twirler. She was pretty and popular and fun – all qualities that eventually landed her the role of Rose Princess in the annual Rose Parade. At Pasadena High School she met Michael Bush: a football player and member of the Kavaliers club. She and Mike eventually married and had three daughters in Pasadena before moving to Santa Barbara in 1968 where they had their fourth daughter.
The family made a sojourn to Oxford England in the early 1970s which made a huge impression on Sandy. A self-proclaimed anglophile, she referred to this time in her life often and with great fondness. She loved the access to music performances in London (whether it was the opera or the symphony) and she took full advantage of all that the city had to offer. She made sure her children were exposed to music and world class art museums as well. Other than her family, music was the great love of her life.
As a child, little Sassa Gay began playing the piano. As a mother, Sandy taught all her daughters (and grandchildren) to play and continued to play herself. She went on to get a masters degree in music from UCSB all while teaching generations of children in Santa Barbara how to play the piano and to hopefully instill a love of music within them.
Sandy cherished her music friends in Santa Barbara – David Sannerud, Peter and Suzanne Brown, Lynne Glasman, Mike and Margie Reinhart, and Wendy Foster have shared music and friendship with her for over 30 years. Whether she was singing in the now-defunct Concord Singers group or playing at a monthly piano club, music was always mixed with friendships and family. It was ever present. Whenever he visited, Sandy and her beloved cousin Richard would often be hunched over the piano keys absorbed in a spirited four hand duet that always wowed the crowd.
Alexandra married local attorney Tom Stone in 1998. Alexandra and Tom were devoted members of the Santa Barbara Zen Center for many years. They moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 2017 to retire and found a new Zen Center to be a part of – the members of whom showed absolute love and care for her in her final days.
There’s nothing that Sassa liked better than to have all her children and grand children and great granddaughter around her. She was proud of her family and never had a bigger smile than when everyone was gathered decorating the Christmas tree, eating dinner on the back patio, or gathering down at Hendry’s beach for her birthday. When gathered at her house, invariably, someone would be plucking out a tune on the piano and she would always shout out words of encouragement as she was roasting a chicken in the kitchen.
She never forgot a birthday and took great pleasure in leaving a rousing round of Happy Birthday singing on our voicemails.
We used to tease her about leaving the radio on all day tuned to the classical music station so that her cats could hear it. In her final days we played a lot of music for her: from the King Singers to Chopin and her beloved Schubert. We kept the music on for her so that she could hear it, so that it would be within her for her final moments.
Sassa Alexandra is survived by her four daughters (Jennifer, Pamela, Susan, and Linda), her grandchildren (Emilie, Ana, Torrey, Henry, Taylor, and Ava), her great granddaughter Phoenyx, her husband Tom Stone, her brother Tom Williams, cousins Richard McCurdy and Pat Souls, and numerous other friends and relations.
A memorial service will be held in September with the date to be announced. If you would like notification of this service, please contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.