NORTHFIELD — Sandy Valek, age 77, passed away unexpectedly at home on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Sandra Marlene Johnson Valek was born November 7, 1943 in Northfield Minnesota, to Floyd and Carol (Sorensen) Johnson. She was raised in Little Chicago and was baptized and confirmed at Trondhjem Lutheran Church. In 1961, she graduated from Northfield High School and began working at Munsingwear in Montgomery. Sandy was married to Bob Valek in 1962. After their divorce, they remained friends and attended family events together and took great joy in traveling together to visit their granddaughter's family. Sandy was a stay at home mom for her 3 children until 1970, when she went to work at Greenvale Elementary School as administrative assistant to the principal, Jim Hamblin, whom she greatly admired. From 1976 - 1980, she worked with Bob at the Big Steer. In 1980 she began working at Sibley Elementary School as a special education paraprofessional, retiring in 2010. Sandy developed lifelong friendships with the many staff she worked with in the Northfield school district and rarely went to the grocery store without running into a former student who would stop her to chat.

Sandy was an active member of Trondhjem Lutheran Church. She was the first female president of the Trondhjem congregation, was Sunday School superintendent, and taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She enthusiatically sang in the church choir. Sandy joked that her singing skills weren't what she would like, but someday she would have perfect pitch singing with the choir of angels in heaven. Sandy friended Trondhjem's musicians, students from St. Olaf College, and took several of them under her wing like a grandma. At the time of her death, she held the honor of being the longest member of her beloved church.

Besides her many friends and extensive family, Sandy had many other loves. She was a founding member of the Trondhjem Community Preservation Society and was excited to attend the first in person meeting (since Covid) on the day of her passing. She served over 30 years on the Trondhjem Cemetery board, attended Sons of Norway, and as an avid reader, was a member of several book clubs. Sandy loved her Scandinavian heritage, and one of her life's highlights was traveling to Norway and Denmark with her mom, aunt, and siblings to meet family and return to the places of her Grandparent's stories. Sandy was the family's baker of fladt brod (flat bread), the maker of sot suppe (sweet soup), and even enjoyed a good lutefisk dinner. She flexed her skills and made potato dumplings for some of her Czech family for Christmas each year. Sandy was a quilter and made sure each of her siblings, children, and grandchildren had one specifically designed for them. She loved spending time in her flower garden and was a passionate protector of the environment she treasured. Sandy was a lively storyteller and our family historian.

Sandy's deepest sorrow in life was the loss of her beloved son Scott. She fiercely loved her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and rarely missed an event or an opportunity to hug them and tell them she loved them.

When Sandy saw "The Optimist's Creed", she hung it on her bedroom mirror, read it everyday and tried to live it. Anyone who knew her, knows that she did indeed live it.

Survivors include Bob Valek; her children, Corinne (Brian) Duncan of Lonsdale, Rick (Jennifer) Valek of Nerstrand; 5 grandchildren, Debra (Brad) Heaton, Isaiah (Jena) Duncan, Sarah Duncan, Derek (Tawnie) Valek, Raymond Valek; 9 great-grandchildren, Ameliana, Makayla, Aubree, Mackenzie, Kaleb, Mindie, Cohen, Thea, Waylon; her sisters, Bev (Dick) Hussey of Northfield, Barb (Al) Lentsch of Lilydale, Bonnie (Don) Pavek of Northfield, Roxanne (Dick) Simon of Northfield, Deb (Dale) Simon of New Prague, Kim (Rod) Smisek of Lonsdale; her sister-in-law, Sherrie Johnson of Wisconsin; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and many many friends. She was preceded in death by her son Scott in 1991, her brother Harlan Johnson, her nephew Tyrone Johnson and her parents.

Visitation will be held from 3:00 - 7:00PM, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at the Bierman Funeral Home. Masks are required and the funeral home will assist with social distancing.

A private memorial service will be held at Trondhjem Lutheran Church in Lonsdale. You will be able to view the funeral live stream at 11:00AM, Thursday, April 29, 2021, at a URL to be posted on our website. Interment will be in Trondhjem Lutheran Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, gifts preferred to Trondhjem Lutheran Church, the Trondhjem Cemetery Association, or Historic Trondhjem Church (TCPS).

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