Lela F. Sandfort
Bella Vista, Arkansas
March 10, 1913 – Sept. 20, 2018
Lela F. Sandfort age 105, a resident of Concordia Retirement Center in Bella Vista, Arkansas, passed away on Sept. 20. Lela and her husband John moved to Bella Vista in 1979 after John’s retirement as Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at South Dakota State University.
The couple helped to found the Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista and during her many years of church membership Lela served as a Deacon and Church Elder and was a member of the chime and chancel choirs. Lela belonged to the Rogers chapter of the P.E.O Sisterhood and was a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority and a former member of the VFW Auxiliary.
She was instrumental in organizing the local Dakota Club and for many years attended meetings of the Bella Vista chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) with her husband John. Lela formerly served on the board of directors of the Bella Vista Bluebird Society where she helped maintain the club’s bluebird nesting boxes and gave public information talks. She enjoyed community service and often worked as a volunteer at the Helping Hands thrift store in Bentonville. Her many friends will remember Lela as a caring, outgoing person who enjoyed helping others.
Lela grew up in Covington, Ohio, the daughter of Roy and Florence Shellabarger. She was grateful to have been raised by loving parents in a small town with a close-knit community. Lela played saxophone in high school and was a member of the Musical Maids, a dance band that played at venues in western Ohio. After graduation from high school, she attended business school and took a job in Dayton where she met her future husband, John.
Lela and John were married on Nov. 12, 1938 and lived in Columbus, Ohio where John worked at Ohio State University. Soon afterwards, they moved to Ames, Iowa when John took a position as an engineering professor at Iowa State University. John was called to active duty in WWII and Lela lived at a number of duty stations before John was deployed overseas. Following the war, Lela and John resumed their life in Ames.
Lela was a member of the Faculty Women’s Club at Iowa State and held a number of offices in that organization.
She and John were fond of big band music and were members of the Ames Red Friars Dance Club, a group that featured ball room dancing. Lela’s greatest joy was being a loving mother and devoted wife. She was a Cub Scout den leader and gave her time freely to the raising of her two sons, John and David. Lela and her family moved to Brookings, South Dakota in 1958 when her husband joined the teaching staff at South Dakota State University. She served as president of the Faculty Women’s Club at SDSU until her husband’s retirement.
Lela is survived by a son David and his wife Anne, her grandson Stephen and his wife Jennifer, and a great grandson Brandon.
A memorial service will be held at the Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista on Friday, Sept. 28, at 1 p.m.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Presbyterian Church of Bella Vista.
Arrangements are provided by Bella Vista Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. Online condolences may be made at www.funeralmation.com.