Sandra Jean Ely, born on January 17th, 1940, a resident of Coldwater, MI, surrounded by her family, peacefully embarked to her eternal resting place on April 2nd, 2023, following an unexpected injury.
Born in Dayton, OH, and raised in Brookfield, IL, Sandra’s role as the eldest of four children took on new significance as the caretaker of her siblings when her father became the sole provider. Entrusted with the responsibility of caring for her younger sisters, Sandra displayed remarkable resourcefulness and resilience at just 14 years old. Whether it was furnishing their entire home or juggling adult responsibilities while still attending school, she remained steadfast and reliable. Her unwavering commitment to her family instilled in her a sense of compassion, tenacity, and determination that would shape her character and guide her throughout her life and legacy.
Sandra went on to meet her first husband, James “Sugar” Fougerousse at an early age. They had five children together. As a work-from-home mother, Sandra was ahead of her time. She designed exotic dance costumes, one of the many jobs she held, showcasing her talent and creativity while also providing for her family. Frequent relocation was a prominent aspect of their life. Over the course of 12 years, she successfully managed 24 moves. Through unwavering faith, savviness, and determination, a vibrant portrait of Sandra’s life continued. She found solace in the relationships she formed with others, valuing connections over material possessions, creating a sense of home wherever they went.
After years on the move, they finally settled in Coldwater where she prepared her children for school so she could re-enter the work force. Sandra gained employment with Coldwater Service factory where she remained for many years. Upon the death of her first husband, she pivoted into his position as a Bail Bondsman, where she dedicated over thirty years of her life to giving people second chances. She made personal sacrifices and exemplified acts of kindness and generosity, instilling in her children the values of caring for others and being selfless.
Sandra found love for a second time with Leonard Ely. She remained with Leonard for many years until God called him up to be with Him in glory.
Although Sandra’s passing has left a void in the hearts of those who knew her, Sandra’s family and friends will always cherish the memories of her kindness, compassion, and unwavering support. They are comforted to know that she is now at peace. She was a devoted mother, grandmother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend who touched the lives of many with her love, selflessness, and generosity. Her legacy lives on as she is honored and remembered for the impact she had on those around her by her wisdom and perseverance that continues to guide and inspire her family and community. Her life serves as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of love in the face of adversity.
Preceded in death by her parents, Ferris “Fizz” Winhoven and Thelma Leaverton, her sister Joanne Stewart, husbands, James “Sugar” Fougerousse and Leonard Ely, and her beloved son, Randall “RJ” Fougerousse.
Sandra is survived by her loving children, Cheryl Fougerousse, James Scott Fougerousse, Misty Fougerousse, and Sandy (Denny) DeCaire. She was a doting grandmother to Michelle (Gaby)
Vazquez, Corey Abell (Olivia), Randee Jo (Torey) Stroud, Tyler Fougerousse, Carley (Jeff) Faulkner, Madison Fougerousse (Hunter), and Drew DeCaire. Her great-grandchildren, Taylor Vazquez, Austin Rice, Tre Stroud, Henry, Eleanor, and Madeleine Faulkner, and Zoe Abell brought her great joy and happiness.
She also leaves behind her sisters, Sylvia Sherry and Diane (Dan) Davis, and a host of friends, among many others from Coldwater who held a special place in her heart.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to Lockwood Community Church, where she was a longtime member.
A celebration of Sandra’s life will be held at a future date. More information will be shared once the details are finalized.
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