Sandra Nice (1937-2017)

Sandra Nice, 79, of Garrison, died on July 21, 2017, at her home, surrounded by her family.

Born Dec. 24, 1937, she was the daughter of Richard E. and Adelaide (Adamson) Smith. She grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, outside Minneapolis, where she learned to water ski at the Bald Eagle Water Ski Club and graduated in 1956 from White Bear Lake Area High School.

Sandra studied fashion design at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and received a scholarship to study fashion with Christian Dior in Paris. While there, she lived at the Alliance Française while also working as a model.

Sandra Nice

It was in a French class at the Alliance Française that she met Don Nice, a native of Woodlake, California, who was studying art in Europe. He later recalled that her sense of humor and down-to-earth approach drew him in.

The couple was married Aug. 11, 1959, in White Bear Lake, where Sandra began a career designing dresses. The family moved to New York in 1964, where she studied fashion.

From her early days in Paris, Sandra was forever passionate about all things French, studying the language and culture, and spending extended time in the country.

After moving with Don and their two children to Garrison in 1969, Sandra taught at both the Garrison and Haldane elementary schools for decades. She was a tireless volunteer for many institutions, including serving on the board of the Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison for 12 years. In 2008, she received the library’s Patricia Adams Award for Community Service.

Her love of trees and nature led her to establish playgrounds and plant trees throughout Garrison. A longtime advocate of early learning, she cofounded the Garrison Children’s Education Fund in 1998 and served on its board for 10 years.

Sandra and Don Nice

After retiring as a public school teacher in 1997, she ran a day care, Nice Care, from her Garrison home.

An avid reader and world traveler, Sandra devoted her life to teaching, the care of her family and the Garrison community. She was known by all as a deeply passionate pursuer of what she thought was right and important, giving generously of herself and her spirit to others.

Besides her husband, she is survived by her children, Brian Nice and Leslie Nice-Heanue, both of Garrison; four grandchildren, Samantha Heanue, Macdara Heanue, Devin Heanue and Sarah Margaret Nice; and her brother, Richard E. Smith Jr. (Debra). Her sister, Barbara Morancey, died before her.

A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Garrison at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9. Memorial contributions may be made to the Desmond-Fish Library.


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15 thoughts on “Sandra Nice (1937-2017)

  1. What a wonderful tribute to Sandra. She cared so much for her family, students, friends and the community. Sandra was a strong, Midwestern gal who made the world a better place because of her.

  2. I am so very sorry to hear of Mrs. Nice’s passing – I have great memories of my daughter attending her preschool. Sending condolences to her family.

  3. My heartfelt condolences to the Nice family and friends. What a beautiful tribute to a life well-lived. As a teacher, she will live on in the memories of the countless students inspired by the passion she put into her craft. I’m sure she will be deeply missed by those in the community.

  4. Sandra loved her community. She spent endless hours helping everyone that sought out her counsel. Sandra had boundless energy and a love of life. I am sure she will continue to inspire all of us.

  5. “Mrs. Nice,” who she always was to me, was an amazing person with a huge heart. She was my first-grade teacher and later my boss, as I came back to work for her at the daycare after she retired. I’m so sad to hear this news and she will definitely be missed by many. May her spirit shine on forever.

  6. Mrs. Nice was also my kindergarten teacher. I still remember our field trip to see the snapping turtles laying their eggs. She was a wonderful person, and I am so sorry for your loss.

  7. Sandra was one of the most amazing women I have ever met, and also that I’ve ever had the blessing to work with, at her preschool, on occasion. I can’t believe she is gone. Her spirit and vision was indomitable — what a role model for children and for us grown-ups. I was completely in awe of what she accomplished, and who she was in the world. There are many in Philipstown whose love and appreciation of nature was wisely nurtured by Sandra Nice. My heartfelt condolences go out to her wonderful family.

  8. Sandra inspired her young students with her love of all things French. She taught them to make beignets and one summer we rode the Amtrak with several of her middle-school French students to Montreal where she arranged for the children to go to a French summer camp.

    She introduced beauty wherever she could and was the most gracious teacher. My daughters all loved Mrs. Nice and Beatrice studied in Paris as a result of her influence. Her classroom was always full of kindness and love.

  9. I have very fond memories of kindergarten with Sandra as my teacher. She was also so compassionate.

  10. Sandra was so beautiful inside and out. She was kind and so smart. Dedicated to her family with a bottomless supply of love. She was always my benchmark of what a mother, a grandmother, and pure elegance should be. My sincere condolences.

  11. A beautiful woman inside and out who taught me to read and to love reading. She inspired me to become a first grade teacher! I’ve kept a photo of she and I on my desk since I saw her at the Garrison reunion, 8 years ago. I will treasure that always and continue to look at her smile for strength and inspiration. ❤️

  12. Sandra left an indelible mark on our family and in particular on our daughter, Aria, who reaped the benefits of many years at Nice Care! Sandra so willingly imparted a wide-eyed vision into the beauty of nature, the joy of baking and the rewards of living a disciplined life. We will forever hold her memory in our hearts, all the while missing her “to the moon and back.” Heartfelt condolences to the family.