Pastor Gregory Leonard
Bethel A.M.E Church
Setauket, NY 11733
This letter comes to you from an amazing and improbable source. Although, I know that as a ‘man of God’ you must believe in the improbable, as faith often challenges the improbable. I went to Jamaica Plain High School from 1964 to 1967. Thus, I knew your late wife Sandra from there. I would like to offer at this time my sincere condolences for her loss. I have much to say about how I knew Sandra.
My family were residents of Bromley Heath Development and my mother, Dorothy Lindsay was actually a good friend of your mother, Maxine. I think that they may have even known each other before moving to Jamaica Plain. I actually remember you, your brothers and your sister, Faith. I know that it is sometimes difficult these days putting faces and names together that have been out of our lives for forty years or more, so please don’t trouble yourself with remembrance.
My mother told me that Faith used to babysit me when I was younger. One time I ran into Faith at a gathering in Donnie’s house in Brockton, probably somewhere in the 80’s. Faith couldn’t remember me or our family at all, but Donnie was always very friendly every time I saw him. I remember when Faith got married and moved to Africa. That seemed to me like such a fantastic and out-of-this-world thing to do. Little did I know at the time that God would grant me many opportunities to visit and work on the continent of Africa.
What I remember about your dear Sandra is that she was an activist, a go-getter, and someone who went after what she wanted. Thus in high school she was a cheerleader and I also believe an Honor Society member. I must admit that I had some jealousy, towards Sandra, that was fed by my immaturity and lack of direction at the time. I later learned that she was going to nursing school and it is probably at this time that our lives diverged ‘permanently’. I was struggling through my college pursuits as well at this time.
Every now and then, I think of someone and then I initiate an Internet search to see if I can find them. Just the other day, I went onto the Jamaica Plain High School Classmates page and ran across Sandra’s name. I noticed that she was listed as Sandra Dobson Leonard, and I knew that she was seeing you while in high school. My first selfish thought was, “Sandra always got what she wanted”. (I chuckle here at my own absurdity)
Still eager to see what Sandra was up to, I ‘googled’ your name, then hers. When an obituary came up for Sandra, I was shocked. I saw the picture of the beautiful smiling face tempered very gently by time and maturity. I was happy and intrigued to learn of your and Sandra’s co-ministry at Bethel A.M.E. Church. Congratulations on a great life’s effort with the Bethel Hobbs Farm as well. I know your partner, love, and wife is deeply missed by yourself, your family and your community.
I am daily in awe of God’s wonder, grace, mercy and all of the Improbabilities that are put into our lives to remind us of the perfection of our Creator. Your Sandra was a blessing and a gift. She continues to teach me (and I’m sure many others) through her life and in her death. I would say, most humbly, that I am honored to have known her, to have been bested by her on all accounts; and to remember her in the spirit of love.
May you, your family, community and congregation continue to be blessed.