Sandra M. Brickzin
Sandy was born on July 22, 1954, in Cayuga, North Dakota. Because she was premature and born with Down Syndrome, the doctor said she might only live to be 16 or 17 years old. Fortunately, Sandy was welcomed into a large family of eight brothers and sisters who accepted her unconditionally. When Sandy was three, her family moved to Ronan where she lived until her death on Nov. 30, 2016.
Sandy had a special bond with her parents. Life with them was fun and full of family activity. Like her mother, she developed a zealous interest in politics. Sandy had her heroes and villains. She also had an unusually keen memory for names and faces and could recall political figures and others with surprising accuracy. Although she never had any formal education, being the center of attention of so many family members, constantly stimulated her mind. As a result, she developed an unusually keen social intelligence and sense of humor. She knew how to tease and we will always remember her robust laughter when she played a harmless but often hilarious trick on somebody.
At the age of 34, both of her parents had died, leaving Sandy to face the world without them. This was a difficult time for Sandy, and for a while she tried different living arrangements, but nothing seemed to fit. This changed dramatically when she was accepted into the Mission View Group Home. Once again she was part of a large “family.” Sandy received excellent care and loved all her new friends. Many people cared for her, but two people deserve special recognition. One is Gail Mock who took a special interest in Sandy and was like a surrogate mother. Gail was always there for her and kept in close contact with the family. Penny Merchant, as Sandy’s ever-vigilant nurse, also merits special praise for the care she gave. Sandy’s family will never forget and will always deeply appreciate what all of the staff of this group home provided.
Sandy liked to work and be around people. Good fortune smiled on her the day Burt Cannon hired her to work as a dishwasher at the Pizza Cafe. Burt became a major figure in her life. In time they became close friends, with Sandy joining many of Burt’s family activities. Working at the Pizza Cafe was a high point in Sandy’s life. After ten years there, Burt threw a large pizza party for all of Sandy’s family and friends. The Sons of Beaches arrived, began playing lively music, and had Sandy join the band playing on the keyboard. It was a great party culminating with Burt declaring Sandy “Employee of the Decade.” If you go to the Pizza Cafe in Ronan, you will see a large framed photo of Sandy smiling at you.
Sandy had such a warm and engaging personality, you couldn’t help but like her. She leaves behind many people who will long remember this very special person. Her parents, Henry Brickzin Sr. and Louise Fangsrud Brickzin; her brothers, Leland Fangsrud and Jim Fangsrud; and her sister, Jewel Weber precede her in death.
She is survived by her sisters, Fran O’Connell, Beatrice Weber, and Marvel Fangsrud; her brothers, Henry Brickzin Jr., Roger Fangsrud, and Armand Fangsrud; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Although we are sad she has died, we take solace in the fact that Sandy lived a long and interesting life, filled with many people who loved and cared for her. She surely outsmarted that North Dakota doctor who said she might live to be 16. Sandy died at the age of 62.