Family Tribute:Sandra Conaty Brace was born Sandra Jolane Swofford in Bemidji, Minnesota on November 18, 1940. She was the only daughter of Frank and Hazel (Selness) Swofford. Her parents were of Norwegian descent. Sandy always seemed pleased that her mother found her middle name from a popular daytime serial radio program character of the time.
Shortly after her birth, Sandy’s parents move to the Seattle, Washington area where they both became defense plant workers employed by Boeing. They worked on the B-17 bomber aircraft assembly line until November 1945.
Sandy’s father (and grandfather) both died tragically and unexpectedly -- but separately when she was about 11 years old. These losses in her early life she never really was able to fully overcome and it is clear to those her knew and loved her that they were terrible and immeasurable losses.
In the early 1950’s, Sandy’s mother moved to the Wichita, Kansas area, re-married and was again employed by Boeing in the Boeing B-52 strategic bomber aircraft assembly facility there.
Sandy graduated from Wichita, Kansas, High School in 1960. She was a precocious student who upon graduation was interviewed by the Central Intelligence Agency about the suitability of a career with the agency. Instead, Sandy chose marriage to an Air Force serviceman. First son Eric arrived for the young couple in 1962 and second son David arrived in 1967. As a military dependent of a US Air Force Airman, Sandy lived in Fort Dix, NJ, Tampa, Florida, and in Washington State.
Sandy’s first marriage began to falter shortly after the arrival of second son David and despite attempts at reconciliation -- and even taking marriage vows a second time -- the time had come for her to begin a life as a single mom.
In the early 1970’s, she returned to Bemidji, Minnesota where her mother and stepfather were then living. She soon went to work for the Simplot Company in Crookston, Minnesota, about 75 miles west of Bemidji, and had positions with them in personnel and labor relations. The Simplot company processed french fried potatoes for McDonald’s and was a major supplier of this product to McDonald’s. About 1978, the Crookston plant was destroyed by fire but operations were resumed in the Boise, Idaho area where a new plant was built. Simplot moved Sandy and her family to the Boise area in 1979 where she had similar human resources and labor relations positions at the new Simplot facility.
In 1986, Sandy received a separation package from Simplot and within a year was working as an administrative assistant with the Idaho Department of Social Services and Mental Health. She worked for the State of Idaho until she moved to Staten Island, New York in late summer 1992.
Sandy’s mother passed away in October 1988 at the age of 69 years, after a long illness. Sandy moved her mom from Minnesota to Idaho in order to care for her and to make a home for her mother and make her comfortable during those final years.
Sandy moved to Staten Island in 1992 and after a short career in the financial publishing field, began employment in 1994 with Johnson & Higgins as a personnel specialist, a field she knew well. Following a corporate merger in 1998, she began with a subsidiary of Marsh and was an administrative assistant.
Sandy is survived by her first husband, Mr. Hayes Conaty, of Ridge Manor, Florida, the father of her two sons, Eric Conaty, 40, of Caldwell, Idaho, and David Conaty, 35, of Seattle, Washington, and three grand children. She is also survived by her second husband, Mr. David Brace, Staten Island, New York.
Sandy was an ardent reader, a chronic watcher of television, possessed an uncommonly powerful and formidable intelligence, loved cats, and was a writer of poetry and stories.
The men in Sandy’s life grieve and mourn her loss with a profound and unending sorrow. Our world will never be quite the same. Her angelic spirit will live in our hearts for the rest of our lives.Sandra Conaty Brace: 25 Cats, 55 Words
Sandra Conaty Brace might have appreciated a short biographical sketch about her. After all, she herself had mastered the 55-word short story — a challenge to the most diligent amateur writer. Mrs. Brace had published much of her work on Web sites dedicated to the genre.
Mrs. Brace lived in Stapleton, Staten Island, and took the 7:40 a.m. ferry across the harbor each day to her job at Risk Insurance Solutions, where she was an administrative assistant. She shared her house with a husband, David, and 25 cats. Well, maybe not exactly 25. 'It’s probably more,' Mr. Brace said, 'But I lose count.'
Dinner for the cats always caused a minor food riot, but even a riot can have its own poetry. Mrs. Brace placed cat food on seven plates on the kitchen and dining room floors. The groups of cats arrayed around each plate formed a furry constellation of stars, with the plates at the centers and the cats as the coronas.
On Sept. 10, Mrs. Brace, 60, took the day off from work to do chores, fix the carpeting on the stairs that had been torn by a cat, and watch 'Judge Judy' on television. Mr. Brace came home at 5 p.m.
He asked her: 'Why don’t you take another vacation day tomorrow?' She replied, 'No, I think I’ll go to work.'
'And that’s what happened,' Mr. Brace said. 'That’s what happened.'