Alexandria passed away peacefully at home on October 28, 2020, surrounded by her beloved husband and children. For the past five years, she had been under the outstanding care of the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the University of Utah. The family is so grateful to the excellent Huntsman team, whose support and expert care allowed her to enjoy many beautiful activities during these years, until the treatment options were exhausted.
Alexandria (known as Sandy or Alex to family and childhood friends) was born on October 28, 1947, in Santa Paula, California, the granddaughter of Mexican farm and construction workers, who had emigrated from their homeland to Oxnard, California. From early on she learned of the critical importance of education, and has continued to be a strong advocate for encouraging others to pursue higher education. In the mid-1960s, she worked for the War on Poverty program. She met her future husband Michael, the love of her life, while working together on a summer tutorial program for children of migrant farm workers in her hometown of Oxnard. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. She graduated with an Associate’s degree from Ventura College in 1967. She truly was an inspiration for her family.
She married Michael in June 1969. Her mother-in-law gave her the name “Sandrina” (an Italian version of Sandy), the name she has used most widely since then. While Sandrina did not work professionally in education, she devoted most of her working years to managing the office of two child psychologists. She continued to inspire those around her, and in particular her children Ofelia, Marisa, and Roberto, who all successfully completed college and moved on to professional careers. In recent years she focused on her beloved grandchildren Kareem, Kayan, Josh, and Alex, enjoying activities with them that supported their curiosity and intellectual growth.
Sandrina and Michael loved to travel and firmly believed that exposing their children to different cultures and languages would leave a lasting positive mark on their lives. As their children were growing up, they often visited Michael’s family in Europe, Sandrina’s extended family in Mexico, took advantage of Michael’s sabbatical years to live abroad, and explored many other countries along the way.
After their children had grown, Sandrina and Michael ventured further out, including trips to Japan, Brazil, Ghana, Lebanon, Jordan, China, South Korea, Peru and more. They lived near Albany, New York for many years. Their love of skiing and mountains brought them to Park City, Utah, where they happily retired to in 2015. The large Hispanic population, the backbone of the local Park City economy, gave Sandrina new opportunities to continue her educational advocacy. In partnership with Bright Futures and the Park City Education Foundation, Sandrina and her husband established a fund for college-bound 1st generation Hispanic students, which awarded its first two scholarships in September 2020.
Sandrina’s world revolved around her family, friends and volunteer work. She loved traveling, the symphony, and gardening, and poured her heart into her incredible cooking and her impeccable hostessing. She was known to make friends easily all over the world and loved opening her home to countless guests - foreign exchange students, mathematicians, bishops, friends, neighbors, and extended family. Sandrina will be remembered for being compassionate, gracious, thoughtful and charming with a generous heart and food to serve. Equipped with the tenacity of a lion, she would fight for the ones she loved. She was a dedicated mother, loving and devoted wife, and loyal friend to so many. She embraced her role as “Nonna” and she enjoyed spoiling her grandchildren, especially with all of her culinary delights. She made a deep impact on so many and she will be deeply missed.
Sandrina will be remembered by her parents Arthur and Faye Villegas (92 and 93 years old, respectively), her younger brother John, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews in California and Germany, and most intensely by her husband, Michael, her children, Ofelia (Adonis El Fakih), Marisa (Glenn Goldenberg), Roberto, and her grandchildren, Kareem and Kayan El Fakih, Josh Goldenberg, and Alex Range (mother Lisa).
There will be a private memorial celebration at a time to be determined. If you would like to honor Sandrina’s memory, the family would be grateful for your contribution to the scholarship program she established, The Michael and Sandrina Villegas Range First Generation Hispanic Scholarship Program, by clicking the "donate" link above or c/o Park City Education Foundation, P.O. Box 681422, Park City, Utah 84068, or to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, 500 Huntsman Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108.