Sandra Toney Zauner was born Sandra Leffel Toney to James William Warren and Virginia Simms Toney in High Point, North Carolina on September 29, 1955. Shortly after the birth of Sandy and her twin sister Nancy, the family moved to Ridgewood, NJ where she graduated from Ridgewood High School. After working in banking for a period, she went to The University of Tulsa School of Nursing, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in nursing, and graduated in 1980.
Following graduation, she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Nurse Corp and went to Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX to attend the Nurse Officer Branch Basic Course. It was there she met her future husband, Michael Zauner (Mike), who was attending a different course. Upon completing the course, she was assigned to Fort Gordon, Georgia. Mike, meanwhile, returned to his duty station in San Francisco, CA. Mike and Sandy dated cross country for two years. When Mike received orders for Germany, they knew that was too great of a distance to date. Prior to his orders, Mike had asked Sandy if she would marry him. They were married on December 18, 1982. In January of 1983, Mike departed for Germany, and Sandy followed several months later, after receiving her orders. They lived in Germany until 1986 and had a long honeymoon driving all over Europe during their time off. Their first son, Michael Zauner III was born in Germany on September 12, 1985. Sandy elected to stay at home with their son, and was discharged from the Army as a Captain.
During her five years of military service, it was her great honor and privilege to care for the US Marines after the 1983 terrorist Beirut barracks bombings. She worked tirelessly in the ICU, without sleep or rest, to save as many as she could.
Mike got accepted to a Masters in Healthcare Administration course sponsored by the Army so they returned to Fort Sam Houston. After a year, they went to Fort Leonard Wood, MO and they had their second son, James William Zauner (Bill) on July 16, 1988. They were later reassigned to Fort Sam Houston where Sandy earned her Masters Degree in Nursing at The University of Texas, San Antonio, TX. Mike retired from the Army in 1994 and the family moved to Lubbock, TX and has been here ever since. Sandy was one course away from receiving her Nurse Practitioner license at Texas Tech University when she became ill. While taking classes for her Nurse Practitioner license, she continued her career as a nurse, as well as being the best mother and wife she could be. Their son Mike currently resides with his wife Ranae in Orem, UT, and Bill resides in Flower Mound, TX.
Sandy was the most loving and caring person. She was a giving servant always helping anyone who needed anything. Her kind and caring spirit lit up the room wherever she went. As a Registered Nurse, her patients received compassionate care from her. She never hesitated to welcome anyone into the home and happily served food, especially during the holidays, for those who were alone. Her greatest joy came from making others happy and serving them.
She had a long 15 year battle with cancer and a host of other medical conditions, and was in constant and increasing pain during those last years. Nonetheless, she remained cheerful and ever faithful to her Lord and Savior, Jesus. People with whom she came in contact said she was such an inspiration to them by her strength, courage, love and spirit. She will be remembered by all for her gentle and joyous spirit. She will be remembered by her sons as an incredible mother, and live on through her sons by the inspiration she has been in their lives. She will be remembered by her husband who loved her with all his heart. Mike and Sandy were so in love during their 35 years of marriage and were joyous in each other’s presence. She received the most joy when the family played praise and worship music together. They played at many churches, revivals and for evangelists from all over the world. It was precious for her to be together as a family and praise and worship the Lord.
She left a huge impact on this world and it is with tremendous sadness that she has left us. God used her tremendous faith and love during her suffering to show His love for others. We rejoice, however, that for the first time in 15 years she is not having pain and suffering. We also rejoice that she is now resting in Jesus whom she loves so much.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV)