OUUC received word that Sandra Lee, OUUC’s minister from 1989 to 1999, died Friday, June 23, in Grand Junction, CO following hospitalization for pneumonia. Sandra came to UU ministry following a 20-year career as a scientist, working in government and private industry labs as a microbiologist. Following a call to Unitarian Universalist ministry, she pursued a Master of Theology at Vancouver School of Theology in Vancouver BC. She later received her Doctor of Theology from the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland CA, where she pursued her interest in the mystics, especially Hildegard of Bingen and Matthew Fox.

She was called as OUUC’s minister in 1989, where she served 10 years. Sandra is remembered for her enthusiasm and capacity for laughter and fun. She also brought ministerial leadership and change to the predominately lay-led fellowship by including music as an integral part of Sunday services, and official recognition of CUUPs and OUUC as a Welcoming Congregation. It was during her time here that OUUC made the leap to move from the meeting house in Tumwater and build this church. Her enthusiasm and her husband Don Bell’s skill in developing ways to finance the new building helped make this church a reality. It was under Sandra Lee’s ministry that staff positions were created – Music Director, Director of Religious Education, Administrator, and Caretaker.

I talked with Don this week, and he shared a few memories with me, including how they spent their honeymoon. They were married on a Wednesday in 1989; on Friday Sandra began a week-long stint as an instructor at the PNWD Leadership School at Ft. Worden, accompanied by her new husband.

Don said Sandra was an ENFP (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving) on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and that one of the characteristics of her personality type is to see a deadline as the time to start the project. In the 1990s, I served on OUUC’s Worship Arts Committee, and can attest to that characteristic!

Sandra left OUUC in 1999, following several months of dissension regarding her leadership and the direction of the church. She and Don moved to Colorado, where Sandra served a UU congregation in Grand Junction. She then became a hospice chaplain before retiring from ministry and devoting herself full-time to her art. Sandra was a wonderful jewelry artist and creative quilt designer. I remember seeing her work at an invitational exhibit in the Legislative Building’s Reception Room.  In her art, she attempted to balance opposites:  soft and hard, light and hard, serious and whimsical. She was an enthusiastic celebrant of life in its abundance and diversity, including the many companions who shared life with Sandra and Don during their marriage:  fish, numerous cats and dogs, a racoon, a parrot. She is survived by Don and her animal companions at home.

You can see some of Sandra’s jewelry and quilt designs here.

Donations in lieu of flowers are suggested, to NARAL or to the Charity of your choice, or to the Red Phred and the Tu-tones Support Fund c/o Don Bell (address available by contacting the church office).


– Carol McKinley, Bridge Minister