The titles of ‘mom’ or ‘grandma’ were simply not enough for Anna Sandler. Her personality and spirit were too large for those traditional monikers. Instead, to everyone she knew — child, grandchild, or friend — she was, simply, Anna. Or, ‘your favorite Anna,’ as she once told a granddaughter.
"My grandma was the most strong-willed, independent and influential woman in my life," granddaughter Sarah Sandler wrote in an Instagram post. "When I was young and both my parents worked, Anna helped raise me. She pushed me outside my comfort zone and taught me to embrace different cultures from a young age."
Anna Sandler, a mother of four who lived in Levittown for nearly 60 years, died Nov. 4 at The Sheridan at Cooper City assisted living facility in Hollywood, Florida, her family said. She was 90.
"She was a special woman and to know her was to love her," said granddaughter Theresa Sandler, assistant photography editor at Newsday. "She was fierce and had respect for all."
Anna Sandler taught cosmetology at Nassau BOCES in Bellmore for over 25 years, delighting in the success of her students and advocating for them when needed.
"When she was in the classroom, it was like she was on stage," said daughter Nancy Sandler Barbery, 65, of Florida. "She came alive when it came to teaching. Her students loved her and she loved her students. She always went to bat for them, no matter what."
In the classroom, Anna Sandler was an encouraging presence, interested in getting the most out of everyone she came in contact with, Sandler Barbery said.
"She never put anybody down," said Sandler Barbery. "She tried to get them to make the most out of [themselves] and to be the best they could be. That’s just who she was. … She had a childlike spirit and was always encouraging people in such a fashion."
Anna Sandler used her love of astrology as a motivational tool for her students, said son Rick Sandler.
It was "always in a positive fashion," said Rick Sandler, 54, of Long Beach. "She would never tell anyone anything negative, and if someone did get a negative reading, she would be the first person to renounce the reading."
Born Jan. 9, 1930, in Pennsylvania, Anna Sandler moved with her family to the Bronx as a child. At the strong urging of her father, John Schatz, she took up cosmetology as a teenager, working as an apprentice during the summer in Southampton. While completing her training, Anna Sandler also worked at a coffee shop that was routinely frequented by movie stars summering on the East End, including actress Marlene Dietrich, Sandler Barbery said.
Anna Sandler met her late husband, Edwin, at a dance at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan in the early 1950s. They married on Aug. 22, 1954, and lived in Brooklyn for a short time before moving to Levittown. Always prideful of her financial independence, Anna Sandler was able to save $900 to put down on the couple’s second Levittown home in the early 1960’s.
"She always believed in having her own money," said Sandler Barbery. "She was very independent."
Anna Sandler was always learning and doing. As an adult, she taught herself to play piano. She was also tremendously crafty, making jewelry, toilet paper covers, and Barbie doll clothes. Origami was also a favorite hobby. She wrote down almost everything she did and never stopped trying to sharpen her mind through education.
"Her theory was that you want to keep your mind working, otherwise you lose it," Rick Sandler said.
In addition to her son and daughter, Anna Sandler is survived by son, Edward Sandler of Levittown; brother, Alfred Schatz of Bethpage; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by her husband of 34 years and former Newsday employee Edwin Sandler, and daughter Robin Sandler-Ross.
Anna Sandler will be cremated and will be interred at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury. A funeral will be held at a later date, Sandler Barbery said.