Sandra Conaty Brace

Family Tribute:Sandra Conaty Brace was born Sandra Jolane Swofford in Bemidji, Minnesota on November 18, 1940. She was the only daughter of Frank and Hazel (Selness) Swofford. Her parents were of Norwegian descent. Sandy always seemed pleased that her mother found her middle name from a popular daytime serial radio program character of the time.

Shortly after her birth, Sandy’s parents move to the Seattle, Washington area where they both became defense plant workers employed by Boeing. They worked on the B-17 bomber aircraft assembly line until November 1945.

Sandy’s father (and grandfather) both died tragically and unexpectedly -- but separately when she was about 11 years old. These losses in her early life she never really was able to fully overcome and it is clear to those her knew and loved her that they were terrible and immeasurable losses.

In the early 1950’s, Sandy’s mother moved to the Wichita, Kansas area, re-married and was again employed by Boeing in the Boeing B-52 strategic bomber aircraft assembly facility there.

Sandy graduated from Wichita, Kansas, High School in 1960. She was a precocious student who upon graduation was interviewed by the Central Intelligence Agency about the suitability of a career with the agency. Instead, Sandy chose marriage to an Air Force serviceman. First son Eric arrived for the young couple in 1962 and second son David arrived in 1967. As a military dependent of a US Air Force Airman, Sandy lived in Fort Dix, NJ, Tampa, Florida, and in Washington State.

Sandy’s first marriage began to falter shortly after the arrival of second son David and despite attempts at reconciliation -- and even taking marriage vows a second time -- the time had come for her to begin a life as a single mom.

In the early 1970’s, she returned to Bemidji, Minnesota where her mother and stepfather were then living. She soon went to work for the Simplot Company in Crookston, Minnesota, about 75 miles west of Bemidji, and had positions with them in personnel and labor relations. The Simplot company processed french fried potatoes for McDonald’s and was a major supplier of this product to McDonald’s. About 1978, the Crookston plant was destroyed by fire but operations were resumed in the Boise, Idaho area where a new plant was built. Simplot moved Sandy and her family to the Boise area in 1979 where she had similar human resources and labor relations positions at the new Simplot facility.

In 1986, Sandy received a separation package from Simplot and within a year was working as an administrative assistant with the Idaho Department of Social Services and Mental Health. She worked for the State of Idaho until she moved to Staten Island, New York in late summer 1992.

Sandy’s mother passed away in October 1988 at the age of 69 years, after a long illness. Sandy moved her mom from Minnesota to Idaho in order to care for her and to make a home for her mother and make her comfortable during those final years.

Sandy moved to Staten Island in 1992 and after a short career in the financial publishing field, began employment in 1994 with Johnson & Higgins as a personnel specialist, a field she knew well. Following a corporate merger in 1998, she began with a subsidiary of Marsh and was an administrative assistant.

Sandy is survived by her first husband, Mr. Hayes Conaty, of Ridge Manor, Florida, the father of her two sons, Eric Conaty, 40, of Caldwell, Idaho, and David Conaty, 35, of Seattle, Washington, and three grand children. She is also survived by her second husband, Mr. David Brace, Staten Island, New York.

Sandy was an ardent reader, a chronic watcher of television, possessed an uncommonly powerful and formidable intelligence, loved cats, and was a writer of poetry and stories.

The men in Sandy’s life grieve and mourn her loss with a profound and unending sorrow. Our world will never be quite the same. Her angelic spirit will live in our hearts for the rest of our lives.Sandra Conaty Brace: 25 Cats, 55 Words

Sandra Conaty Brace might have appreciated a short biographical sketch about her. After all, she herself had mastered the 55-word short story — a challenge to the most diligent amateur writer. Mrs. Brace had published much of her work on Web sites dedicated to the genre.

Mrs. Brace lived in Stapleton, Staten Island, and took the 7:40 a.m. ferry across the harbor each day to her job at Risk Insurance Solutions, where she was an administrative assistant. She shared her house with a husband, David, and 25 cats. Well, maybe not exactly 25. 'It’s probably more,' Mr. Brace said, 'But I lose count.'

Dinner for the cats always caused a minor food riot, but even a riot can have its own poetry. Mrs. Brace placed cat food on seven plates on the kitchen and dining room floors. The groups of cats arrayed around each plate formed a furry constellation of stars, with the plates at the centers and the cats as the coronas.

On Sept. 10, Mrs. Brace, 60, took the day off from work to do chores, fix the carpeting on the stairs that had been torn by a cat, and watch 'Judge Judy' on television. Mr. Brace came home at 5 p.m.

He asked her: 'Why don’t you take another vacation day tomorrow?' She replied, 'No, I think I’ll go to work.'

'And that’s what happened,' Mr. Brace said. 'That’s what happened.'

v 0.0.46 ------
Add Your Tribute
All tributes will be reviewed by our site moderators prior to being posted. Tributes will normally be posted on the site within 24 - 48 business hours of submission.
I did not know Sandy, but after reading her bio I think that if I had we would have been good friends. We shared a lot of interests, but especially our love of cats! She must have been a very sweet and caring person. I hope that all of you that remember and loved her have good health and find happiness in the years ahead.
Leslie Honcharik, Family
Sep 15 2022 4:21PM
Sandy, I know you are up there with St. Francis watching over all of our precious furbabies. Rest in peace.
Elena Amico, Friend
Sep 10 2018 4:19PM
Always in our thoughts & prayers
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 12 2016 8:11AM
I am the grandson of sandra i remember her being a loving grandma always contacting us grandkids during the holiday seasons she will never be forgotten we love u grandma.
chris conaty, Family
Dec 23 2014 1:46AM
Sandy, here on the eve of 13 years following September 11, 2001 and I want you and your family to know that many, many of us still remember and will never forget what this loss has meant to your family, us, and the entire country. Also, we remember Marine Cpl. John Olson our cousin who paid the ultimate price 31 years ago during the Beirut Barracks Bombings, October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon. Terrorism affects all of us and is not just something that happens far away where no one cares or pays attention. We must be alert to stop it here and wherever it threatens America and Americans. We remember your loss and celebrate your contribution to us, the living.
Kathy Leighton, Family
Sep 11 2014 1:34AM
Here we are at the 12 anniversary of that most sad day, we have not forgotten and remember that day as though it were a fresh wound we are still trying to recover from. Thinking of you Sandy.
Kathy O'Grady Leighton, Family
Sep 11 2013 8:21PM
We shall never forget you, your smile, your voice and your laugh. We shall keep this day as a sacred remembrance of you and what we lost in a moment. We carry on but we never leave you behind. Thank you for helping us daily to carry the tears and the sadness in our hearts but still to move forward with strength and determination. God Bless You and your family today and always. Patricia & Charles Barraza
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 11 2012 10:23AM
Tomorrow will be 11 years since that horrible day we lost so many innocent souls. We have not forgotten, nor will we ever forget. Thinking of you and yours now and forever.
Kathy O'Grady Leighton, Family
Sep 11 2012 12:20AM
Seasons change, time passes but what remains the same is your imprint on our hearts. Your smile, your face, your stories & jokes are forever ours. Rest in peace and may God Bless you and your family today on the 10th anniversary of that terrible morning. We miss you and we are better for having known you. We remember you today and always.
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 11 2011 11:52AM
I just wrote a message and lost it! TThis is my chance to pay tribute to you, Sandy. Well, you know I pay tribute to you all the time. I share with others about our wonderful writing-friendship. You are part of my conversations about cats, and teeny tiny short stories! We were connected from the beginning. When I saw the tower fall I ached. And I thought of your love story with David; David, who kept hoping against hope you would walk through the door. He had found the beauty, the fun, the treasure that was Sandy. David, I think of you often. Drop a line when you wish. Take care.
jensey mann, Friend
Sep 10 2011 9:37PM
Sandy, To a fellow animal lover, rest in peace. I know you are in heaven with all our dear departed pets!!!
Elena Amico, Colleague
Sep 6 2011 11:00AM
Aunt Sandy, I remember the years you lived across the street from us when Eric and David were young. I was 9 years old when you brought home David from the hospital and I thought it was so wonderful to visit you and play with my cousins especially when my mother worked full time and many days in the summer I was on my own, you welcomed me in your house for a visit and a sandwhich. In the summer when I would go fishing in the river I brought my catch to you and showed you how many I had caught. I was sad when you moved away and I never saw you again. I would often ask about you and my mother would always say to me 'your Aunt Sandy was a brilliant woman'. I have visited and I wish I could tell you that I too love to write and I wish we could have shared stories. It made me sad that we lost you on Sept. 11. I got busy with my life and never took the time to connect with you in my adult life but if I can I will try to connect with your sons, my cousins. Rest in Peace. Beckie
Rebecca Allen Alexander, Family
Apr 26 2011 7:29PM
Never got to meet you, but we passed like ships on Writing.Com. Wishing peace for your family, even this many years after.
Tracy Lucas, Friend
Jan 7 2011 5:53AM
Today I said a prayer for your family members left behind. 9 years ago you left for a better place but you are still remembered by all each and every day, you are missed.
Cynthia Arment, Family
Sep 11 2010 8:50PM
Today, a day very much like that Tuesday nine years ago we are remembering you with love. Keeping your memory forever in our hearts and praying for you, your family, many cats and friends. Patricia and Charles Barraza
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 11 2010 12:38PM
A fellow animal lover and wonderful person. You are missed. Rest in Peace. Elena
Elena Amico, Friend
Sep 10 2010 4:38PM
I unfortunately never did know Sandy when she was alive. I happened upon her at a memorial on March 2nd 2010. Her words are still as fresh as the day she pennd them and she has left a leterary legacy for many to enjoy. I feel as if I did meet her, here inside her words. Her brilliant words, cleverly penned,and honest wit will keep her alive for years to come. September 11th gave us insight into many things, one of them being you don't have to be a celebrity to be sorely missed. And some can mourn you and meet you after you have passed. Thank You Sandy for showing me that can be eternal funny, compassionate, and wise even once we're gone. Your Word Sister, Kimarie Manhart-Freeman
Kimarie Manhart-Freeman, Colleague
Mar 2 2010 10:42AM
Each year on this date I visit this site to remember those we lost on that day. I will never forget it. I was with many from Guy Carpenter who were off site at a conference in Connecticut. We watched with horror and waited for days to hear news of our colleagues. On this day I think of all of you and pray for peach for your families. I didn't know Sandra, but she was my colleague in the MMC family and I grieve for her, and for all who were lost on that day.
Debra Terry, Colleague
Sep 11 2009 12:31PM
We are on the eve of another anniversary of September 11, 2001 and you are fresh in our minds. We will never forget and hope the world and especially our sisters and brothers here in the US never forget. Our thoughts are with the family and all those who suffered this grave loss. Take care and know that we are with you today. Kathy
Kathy O'Grady Leighton, Family
Sep 10 2009 6:14PM
Today at school we were each given the name of someone who died in 9/11. I was given sandra brace. I decided to look up some information on6 her and found this website. She sounds like an amazing lady. My heart and prayers go out to her friends and family.
Kylee Keller, Friend
Sep 11 2008 10:54PM
Another anniversary of that still most shocking and horrible day is here. Seven years, still thinking of that day and especially all those lost. Thinking of you, Sandy, and your family. Rest in peace. Kathy
Kathy Leighton, Family
Sep 11 2008 12:45PM
Sandy, Remembering you on this sad anniversary. God Bless you and your family today and always. Pat
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 11 2008 9:55AM
Sandy, Thinking of you on this 9/11 eve as a fellow Willcox colleague, Staten Islander and animal lover. Rest in peace. You are thought of and missed.
Elena Amico, Colleague
Sep 10 2008 3:18PM
My father Howard was Sandy,s dads brother, Even though I have not seen Sandy since her dad died and they moved away from Seattle. I was saddend to here of her death. It has brought a more personal meaning to the attacts of 9/11. I would like to express my sympathy to her husband and all of her children and grandchildren. If anyone would like to contact me I would love to here from you. I have pictures of Sandy and her Dad that belonged to our Grandmother and would be willing to share them if ayone is interested. My e-mail is Howard Swofford Jr
Howard E Swofford Jr, Family
Dec 5 2005 7:59PM
More than a moment of silence, on this day and everyday may we use our lives to honor and respectfully remember you. With careful consideration we continue on where you could have gone, good left undone, countless gifts not given. We will not fail; we will not forget you, our precious family, our dear friend, our inspiration. Patricia & Charles Barraza
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 11 2005 7:39AM
i still think about you daily and it still hurts to not be able to talk to you or ask for your advice and input. you are truly missed. i love you mom lost without you sincerly david
david m. conaty, Family
Sep 2 2005 5:40PM
With a terrible sadness we mark this day, the third anniversary of the morning we lost each of you. In the end it is only a marker. The grief, sorrow and the incredible possibilities that we lost in those horrific moments remain with us every day. We weep, no, sob from a place deep, deep inside that has been left empty by your absence. And we pray, for you, your families, your friends, and your colleagues. And for ourselves may God give us the strength to go forward and honor you with our lives. We will never forget you. Patricia Barraza
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 11 2004 9:21PM
Remembering - Just today I was looking at the picture from our summer 2001 outing where we were standing together smiling. I can remember that day so vividly, laughing and sharing that group moment. I wanted to write to say we remember you and think of you as we go on. We miss your being, but feel your presence. I believe that your spirit is our angel watching over us in a dangerous world. Remembering you keeps you with us and brings us peace in turmoil. In this season of renewal and everyday since we “lost” you we keep you and your loved ones in our thoughts and prayers. Peace to you.
Pat Barraza, Colleague
Apr 2 2004 1:30PM
I did not know Sandy too well, but I have a nice memory of her: I worked with Sandy at Willcox in NYC in the mid-90s, I do not remember the exact year, but I remember her happy, youthful face telling me that she was going to get married. She was so happy to be get married again and it was a joy to hear her talk about it. So I will always remeber that joyful look on her face. I am very sorry to hear that she died on 9/11, its a day that never seems to end for many of us who lived and worked there. I hope hear dear family will smile when they think of her happy times.
Noël Hegedus, Colleague
Feb 11 2004 10:07PM
Hi my name is Rebecca Conaty and i am the daughter of Eric and the grandaughter of Sandy. I just want to say i really appreciate your letters, poems, and rememberence you give for my grandma. She was a great lady and i will miss her extreamly. We miss her very much. But she is in a happier place now with mine and her old cat Domino. Thanx again Love always, Rebecca Ann Conaty
Rebecca Conaty, Family
Dec 12 2003 1:38PM
Daily we are reminded of how much we lost that terrible day. Sandy, I hope that at least some of the angels are cats. Your incredible kindness to animals and your big heart have left a void in all of us. We pray for your family and we hope that God blesses and keeps them well. Pat & Chuck
Patricia Barraza, Colleague
Sep 12 2003 2:54PM
Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the softly falling snow. I am the gentle showers of rain. I am the fields of ripening grain. I am the morning hush. I am the graceful rush of beautiful birds in circling flight. I am the star shine of the night. I am the flowers that bloom. I am in a quiet room. I am the birds that sing. I am in each lovely thing. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there.I did not die.' ...Mary Frye, Baltimore MD, Circa 1933 Alive in our hearts forever... In loving memory of dear Sandy Patricia & Charles Barraza 9-11-2002
Patricia & Charles Barraza, Colleague
Sep 11 2002 11:17AM