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November 6, 2023, Sandra-Lynn Dolen of Shoreview, Minnesota, passed away at the age of 76. A gentle soul known to friends and family as Sandy, she believed in the innate beauty of everyone and everything and carried this belief into all her pursuits. The great loves of her life—her husband, Tom, of 52 years and their children, John and Jen, and grandchildren, Vivienne and Annie—filled her with pride and purpose.
An only child to Anthony and Sally Pikul, Sandy was born on June 28, 1947 in Alexandria, Virginia. During her childhood, her family moved to Minnesota, where she graduated in 1965 from Washburn High School in Minneapolis, initially intending to study marine biology. Valuing her father’s love of learning, she earned a BA from Hamline University, an MA from the University of Minnesota and, later, a certification from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. An advocate for the most vulnerable among us, she served as a Special Education teacher for Saint Paul Public Schools after interning for the district, where she admired the “amazing counselors.” After teaching for 20 years she became a counselor in the district for the next 13.
The care Sandy brought to her job was appreciated by her loving students and recognized by the Saint Paul School Counselors Association in 2000 as an ‘Elementary School Counselor of the Year.’ She gave special thought to inclusivity for her students both within her classroom and at home, where she insisted a concrete ramp be installed for her students to visit, which they often did long after graduation. Though proud of all she achieved, she was always humble about her skills and gifts.
Sandy loved to travel and spent many happy summers with family at their cabin on Clearwater Lake in the Boundary Waters near Grand Marais. She also spent time gardening, landscaping, and taking pleasure in the natural world. In retirement, Sandy enjoyed traveling across the US and abroad. Spending winters in Florida near the ocean, she “devoured” books and knitted beautiful blankets for friends and family. She reveled in nature, photographing, as she described, “fall leaves, pristine views of snow during last snowfall of winter, water views after spring rainfalls, raindrops on leaves, green, mossy logs, and sunsets over water.” Through her photos she shared her love for flora and fauna by selling her hand-made cards at art shops, sharing photos and stories on Facebook, and sitting with her granddaughters tenderly examining seashells or flower petals.
Sandy will be greatly missed. She is survived by her husband Thomas, her children John (Chelsea) and Jennifer (Micheal) and her grandchildren Vivienne and Anne. She is also survived by her beloved Uncle Felix, many cherished cousins, the Anderson family, her brother-in-law John and wife Cate and nieces Erica and Laura, and sister-in-law Carolyn.
Memorial service will be at 11:00am Wednesday, November 15 at Bradshaw, 4600 Greenhaven Drive, White Bear. Memorials preferred to PACER center. Guests are encouraged to come with a story or remembrance of Sandy to share.
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