Sandra O'Brien

Sandra O’Brien, 77, passed away on April 11 at St. Martha’s Hospital, Antigonish, NS, surrounded by her loving family.  She suffered from a disease she kept at bay for many years due to her strong will and unwavering discipline. Born in Antigonish, the daughter of the late Alex J. and Margaret (Chisholm) MacDonald, Sandra is survived by her husband of 54 years, retired StFX English Professor Kevin O’Brien; children Sean (Brigitte), Kathleen, Colin (Irish) and grandchildren Kelty, Maureen, and Finnegan; her sister Moira (Ed) and brother Colin J. MacDonald of Antigonish; and their children and grandchildren. Sandra graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree (Chemistry), and taught at St. Vincent’s High School in Saint John, N.B., Moncton High, Harrison Trimble in Moncton, and Fredericton High. A marvellous teacher in Math, Physics and Chemistry, she was respected and loved by her students, some of whom—including her brother—say she was the best teacher they ever had. Married since 1963, Sandra and Kevin moved to Antigonish in 1966 to start their family, to whom she was devoted. She was also a dedicated volunteer with St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Auxiliary, helped organize many annual charity events, was a member of the hospital board, and was a regular collection counter for St. Ninian's Cathedral. As a girl, Sandra enjoyed spending time each summer at the Old Homestead in Lochaber, fondly called “the Glen,” with her dear grandmother, the late Christine Chisholm, and at the family cottage in Mahoney’s Beach. In her youth, she was a top student and a champion Highland Dancer, selected to perform at the high profile opening of the Canso Causeway in 1955. She won her age group six years in a row, including capturing the Angus R. MacDonald Trophy as top senior dancer in her final year of competition. For this honour, Sandra was inducted into the inaugural Antigonish Highland Games Hall of Fame in 2013.  At StFX she performed as a ballet dancer in two musicals.  An elegant and beautiful lady like her mother, Sandra loved shopping, growing flowers, dancing, swimming, gardening, decorating her home, and dressing in her tasteful style. With a love for travel, she enjoyed the Florida sun; other interests included watching figure skating, solving Sudokus, cutting out articles of interest for her children, playing bridge with her dear friends, going out every chance she got, and freezing every morsel of leftover food. A great listener, Sandra had a quiet manner, and such a soft voice, she often had to say something twice, yet was patient and loving always. Thank you to the St. Martha’s nurses and caregivers, the Palliative Care team, the VON nurses, for the excellent care under Doctors Brian Steeves and Ibrahim Abdelgadir, and the loving watchfulness of brother-in-law Dr. Brian O’Brien. The wake will be held in Antigonish on Sunday, April 15, 2-4 and 7-9pm in MacIsaac Funeral Home, 61 Pleasant St., Antigonish. Funeral Mass at St. Ninian's Cathedral with Fr. Donald MacGillivary presiding, on Monday, April 16 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the VON; the Palliative Care Department of St. Martha’s Hospital Foundation; and/or St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Auxiliary.