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Sandra Lee Sorbo, driving force of women's athletics at Evangel University, passes on April 17

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by Jennifer Hall

Funeral to be held today, Thursday, April 19

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Sandra Lee Sorbo, 68, passed away Tuesday morning, April 17, in Springfield’s Cox Hospital after fighting a more than 30-year-long battle with multiple sclerosis.

The funeral will be today at 2 p.m. in the Central Assembly of God Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to Assemblies of God World Missions for the account of Arlene Stubbs. Arlene is a missionary in Hyderabad, India, where the church she pastors is raising money to build a new church. It was Sandra’s desire to help fund this ministry.

Sandra’s early years

Sandra was born to Ernest and Phyllis Sorbo in Butler, Penn., Oct. 24, 1943. She is survived by two sisters, Arlene Stubbs and Kay Oliver, as well as nieces and nephews and a large extended family. Sandra was fond of saying, “Many of us are friends; we’re not just relatives, we’re really friends.”

In 1951, Sandra made the monthlong trip by ship with her parents and sister Arlene to India where her parents felt called as missionaries. She attended Kodaikanal boarding school in India, making many lifelong friends.

She returned to the States to attend Evangel College in Springfield, Mo.; but after one semester, Sandra decided she wanted to major in physical education, which Evangel did not offer. She transferred to Youngstown State University in Ohio, which was close to relatives including her grandparents. She earned her Bachelor of Science in education from Southwest Missouri State University in 1966 and a Master of Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1968.

Forging a career at Evangel

Before she had completed her bachelor’s degree, Evangel contacted her to fill an unexpected vacancy. While finishing her degree at SMSU, Sandra began teaching physical education courses at Evangel. She became a full-time instructor at Evangel in 1965.

Sandra was the driving force behind women’s athletics at Evangel. Dr. David Stair, current Evangel athletic director, said that Sandra coached every female sport at one time or another. As each program was added, she took on the coaching duties of that sport as well as maintaining her position of women’s athletics coordinator. These sports included tennis, track, softball, field hockey, basketball and her favorite, volleyball. She was also the women’s intramural director for many years.

Her passion for women’s sports was fueled by her commitment to the women students whom she felt deserved the opportunity to participate in athletics.

On top of her coaching duties, Sandra taught in the physical education department for 35 years, serving 16 years as department chair. Her goal as a teacher was to develop in her students a thirst for knowledge and the desire for excellence so that the world would realize that Christians can be knowledgeable, well-qualified and professional.

She received the Delta Sigma 25-year Educator Award from the Assemblies of God in 1993 and was honored by the Assemblies of God Board of Higher Education with the Teacher of Wisdom Award. She was also inducted into the Evangel College Athletic Hall of Fame and was recognized by the Evangel Alumni Association with a Distinguished Service Award in 1996. Sandra was listed in both the Outstanding Young Women of America and Who’s Who of American Women. She was named professor emeritus at her retirement in 2000.

She was active with the Easter Seal Camp as athletic director, served the American Red Cross as a first aid and CPR instructor, and was a National Federation volleyball official. She held membership in the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; Missouri Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; Delta Psi Kappa; Kappa Delta Pi; Delta Kappa Gamma; Southwest Missouri Board of Officials; and was a Missouri State High School Activities Association registered volleyball official.

In addition to growing up in India, Sandra was widely traveled, having visited Europe, Israel, Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia and Malaysia. A big thrill for her was attending the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

She was a longtime member of Central Assembly of God, singing in the choir for many years.