Sandra Marie Pagnano (St. Pierre) passed away on Dec. 14, 2023 at the age of 81. She was born in Weymouth, Mass., on Aug. 21, 1942 to Louis and K. Frances St. Pierre of Weymouth, Mass. As the mother of five children and “Nana” to 12 grandchildren, Sandra was devoted to always being there for her family. And so her family, in turn, was there for her when she died peacefully in her sleep at home in Union.
One summer day in 1962 while working as a park instructor for a Weymouth summer recreation program, her future husband, Bill, was assigned to the same park – it was love at first sight. They were married Aug. 10, 1963, and soon the couple was sent for two years by the Army to Hawaii, where they created lasting memories of the land and the culture, and where they had their first child, Mark. Upon returning to Massachusetts, the Pagnanos had four more children: Karen, Kevin, Clair, and Ellen. Sandra and Bill raised farm animals at their home in Duxbury, Mass. – such a rare activity in the suburbs in the 1970s that the family and farm were featured in the pages of The Wall Street Journal.
Their love of animals, agriculture, and self-reliance led the Pagnanos in 1978 to move permanently to a 122-acre blueberry farm on Clarry Hill in Union. There they raised pigs, cows, goats, and sheep, and Sandra provided for her family by growing and cooking much of her own food and sewing clothing, all the while teaching these skills to her children so they could learn to provide for themselves. Sandra also loved her flower garden, which was overflowing with blooms, butterflies, and birds. One of Sandra’s greatest joys was nurturing the farm and its land with her husband that became the center of their family life, made more important as grandchildren learned to love the place as they did.
When her children were young, Sandra was always on the move taking them to 4-H fairs to show animals, compete in different sports, play musical instruments, and many other activities. Be it at practice or competition, she modeled crucial life skills and independent values. Sandra’s greatest pride was that all five children graduated from college. In her later years, she remained a constant source of emotional support and steady guidance, living out her oft-heard remark, “You can never spoil a child with love.”
As a woman of abiding Catholic faith, Sandra was also deeply involved in supporting the people and communities around her. When young, Sandra studied nursing, and her natural ease and instinct to care for others filled the lives of her family and those she helped though out her life. She mentored and supported new mothers (especially close friends, daughters, and daughters-in-law) by sharing her experiences and teaching them to develop confidence as mothers and to trust their instincts.
At Medomak Valley High School, which all of her children attended, Sandra was instrumental in keeping the gymnastics team thriving, by introducing dozen of girls and boys to the sport, and serving as a steady guiding force for their future. She also loved working at Miller School in Waldoboro with students who needed additional reading support. What a smile it brought Sandra when she crossed paths with former students and athletes, now grown, who would relate how their successes were due to her patient and creative efforts in reading instruction or how their involvement in gymnastics gave them the confidence to achieve future goals. In one special memory, Sandra taught a boy at Miller School who struggled with reading but loved the outdoors, so she brought in her sons’ Thornton Burgess children’s books about animals to engage him. This was the breakthrough he needed, and his reading accelerated quickly. As an adult, this boy became a Maine game warden, and he credited Sandra with putting him on the right path in life.
Sandra was a tirelessly energetic and optimistic matriarch of her large family. For 60 years, she and Bill were inseparable, including working together in Bill’s law office in Rockland where Sandra would answer calls and greet all cheerfully and with respect and kindness. Sandra and Bill shared a love of travel, including to Italy, France, Japan, Ireland, London, and Quebec, with a special return trip to Hawaii for the first time in almost 50 years. Sandra is survived by her husband of 60 years, William; son, Mark Pagnano and his wife, Linda Pagnano, and their children, Brian, Eric, and Adam; daughter, Karen Pagnano Richardson and her husband, Gary Richardson, and their children, Lyle and Dana; son, Kevin Pagnano and his wife, Donna Pagnano, and their children, Hannah, Natalie, and Emily; daughter, Clair Pagnano and her husband, Matthew Reed Baker, and their children, Giulia and Ian; and daughter, Ellen Pagnano Hopkins and her children, Will and Caleb. Sandra is also survived by her brother, James St. Pierre and his wife, Beverly, of Weymouth, Mass.; sister-in-law, Joan and her husband, Michael Kaminski, of Acton, Mass.; and predeceased by her brother, Gerard St. Pierre, formerly of Roslindale, Mass.
For those wishing to remember Sandra, calling hours will be on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023 from 4-6 p.m. at Long Funeral Home (9 Mountain St. in Camden) and a funeral mass will be held on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023 at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Camden. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations in Sandra’s memory to the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine.