Sandra Lee Haugen Keck

March 18, 1945 - March 23,2023

Sandra Lee Haugen Keck, 78, of Toledo, passed away on Thursday 03-23-23 at 2:23 a.m. from a brief but painful battle with pancreatic cancer at her home in Minden, Nevada, surrounded by her family.

Sandra was born in Toledo, Ohio to Roy and Katherine Haugen on March 18, 1945. She had the kind of childhood that anyone would dream of, filled with love, happiness, wonderful parents and siblings, and many good times that would be shared with generations to come at family get togethers.

Sandra married Gary Miley shortly after graduating from Rogers High School in 1962 (Go Rams!), and together they lived in Mississippi then California, where Sandra would go on to build a beautiful life for the next 34 years in the lovely beach town of Santa Cruz. The couple had three children together, Dawn, Dean and Tristy Miley and they became the center of Sandra’s world as she went on to raise them as a single mom in the 70’s.

Sandra had a lifelong love for the disabled community as her son, Dean, was developmentally disabled. A career path that would go on to span the next 50 years began when she took a teacher’s aide position in Dean’s special education class at Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary in 1973. She was a fierce advocate for the rights and interests of the DD community, and she fought tirelessly for her son, and later, her clients to ensure them the quality of life that we all deserve. It was a fight that would still be going on today had she not passed on.

Sandra had a resumé that, quite frankly, is exhausting. The highlights are her employment with The Skills Center, multiple different sheltered workshops for the disabled, The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Santa Cruz City Public Works, Santa Cruz County Health Services, Nevada Voc Rehab & DETR, and her last labor of love, Haugen & Keck Transitional Training and Employment program from which she retired in December of 2022.

Sandra and the love of her life, Tom Keck, had been together for the past 28 years. They decided to “retire” and relocate to Nevada where they went on to build a wonderful life for themselves and Dean. It was when she went to find Dean a job that she realized that the disabled community in her town was terribly underserved and unrecognized. She began with job coaching for Dean and that grew into a transitional training and employment program, with 2 vocational day centers that gave the local DD community a soft, supportive place to land. Clients were given the tools needed to get work and thrive out in the community. She made sure that her clients were respected and given the opportunities to rise to any occasion, and they did. There are many success stories that emerged from that program. It was transformative not just for her clients and their families but for the community at large. Not many people can say that they love their job, but Sandra did. This work fed her soul and made her life rich in all the ways that matter. The lives that she has touched and the ripple effect that she has left behind is both beautiful and vast.

Sandra is preceded in death by her son Dean Miley; brother Trace Haugen; sister Judith Schultz and her parents, Roy and Katherine Haugen.

Sandra is survived by her husband, Tom Keck; daughters Dawn Miley and Tristan Medina; son-in-law Michael Medina; step¬-daughters Sara and Mindy Keck; grandkids Dana Landig; Kiel Mata; Nico Medina; Morgan Medina; Alli Kelly; Gunnar Barber; Conner and Serena Mcmanus; sister-in-law Terry Haugen; nieces Colleen Haugen, Aurora Smith and her son Blake, Toni Gargas and her daughters Karli and Ciarra, and many more extended family and dear friends.

The family wishes to extend our sincerest thanks Eden Hospice and all of the nurses and care staff that helped ease the transition for us. We are forever grateful.

Sandra loved a good party but did not want a service held for her. Instead, we ask that you honor her memory by finding joy in something simple. Take the scenic drive for no reason at all, toast her using the good crystal that’s only for holidays, plant a tree, be someone’s soft place to land, put good out into the world, listen to your favorite song and think of her. She would love that. If you wish to do something in her honor that is a bit more traditional, a donation could be made in her name to any small, local, organization that directly benefits people like food banks, women’s shelters, or soup kitchens as she was a true humanitarian in spirit.