Remembering my friend Sandy Everly

I love this old picture taken by Sandy Everly’s husband, Rick, a talented photographer. He shared it on Facebook recently.

Sandy Everly, who died on Friday, was one of my favorite people at the Livingston County Press. She worked in the paper’s business office and was one of the first people you saw when you walked into the building, which was a good thing because she had this great, big, friendly smile.

I started at the paper back in the days when the industry was booming, and we had the resources to do some great special reports and entertaining features. One of the more memorable features was the “50 Most Powerful People in Livingston County” listing that then-managing editor Buddy Moorehouse and I produced a couple times.

For our own amusement, Buddy and I also put together our own not-for-publication ranking of the most-powerful people at the paper. Topping that list was none other than Sandy Everly.

To this day, I am unsure exactly what Sandy’s job title was or what exactly she did. But whenever anyone needed anything — anything at all — they’d have to go through her. She was the keeper of the keys to the store room; she knew everything about the paper; and she had a mental map of the location of every single thing in the building. She was a great and organized planner who delighted in making things happen. She had a great sense of humor and was always up for fun.

And we shared her daughter, Kasey.

Let me explain: Back in the halcyon days of the LCP, kids were a common sight in the office. That’s how I first got to know Kasey, the oldest of Sandy’s two children. When we first met, I was a brand-new editor and Kasey was a young teen who wanted to be a journalist. She worked on the Main Four, Howell High School’s student newspaper. She went to college, and, eventually, I hired her as a reporter.

(Kasey — whose writing developed its distinct style and point of view over time — also wrote for LivingstonTalk, the website I helped start after the newspaper industry crashed, and then for this site. One of Kasey’s pieces, “‘The Easy Riders Rodeo Is Like the Melon Fest, Only With Sin and Better Melons’ and Other Twisted Tales of Debauchery,” remains one of the most-read on the site, and with good reason. If you haven’t read it, click on the link.)

Through a series of reorganizations, Sandy and I no longer worked together at the newspaper, but we kept in touch, occasionally meeting for breakfast or lunch. Of course, there was also Facebook, which is how I kept up on Sandy’s treatments after she got cancer.

Me, Sandy and Kasey take a selfie at brunch earlier this year.
Me, Sandy and Kasey take a selfie at brunch earlier this year.

After a couple failed attempts, we met for brunch earlier this year — she brought along Kasey as a surprise. The three of us ate and talked and laughed. Sandy shared photos of her beautiful new baby grandson Liam, whose father is Sandy’s son, Kevin. Kasey filled me in on the great guy with whom she had fallen in love.

We had a wonderful time that flew by all too quickly, and we promised to do it again soon.

But we never got the chance.

As it turned out, Kasey married that great guy on July 31 in a beautiful ceremony at their house. Honored to be among the invited, I was also excited to see Sandy again.

After I arrived, I congratulated Sandy’s husband, Rick, on the big day, and asked whether Sandy was in the house helping Kasey get ready.

“She’s at home,” Rick said. “She’s just not strong enough to be here. She’s under hospice care.”

I had to stop myself from bursting into tears. I knew Sandy was sick, but until that moment I hadn’t realized just how sick.

“We don’t know how much longer we’ll have with her,” he said.

It turned out that they had just a week.

And though I didn’t get the chance to tell her in person how much her friendship has meant to me throughout the years, I got to say, “We love you, Sandy,” with all the other wedding guests via the magic of technology and an iPad.

While some may say that heaven has gained an angel, I am certain that Sandy is actually organizing the business of eternal life and getting it to function smoothly, while flashing that great, big, friendly smile of hers.

RIP, Sandy.

Click here for Sandy’s obituary.

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Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse.