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In memoriam: Sandra McFate

What do you say when you hear of a colleague and friend passing on at the ripe age of 95 who had stalwart qualities and never wanted to accept credit or reward for now the trite “job well done”?

You tell it like it is, both personally and professionally.

The past presidents of this great Association follow a custom of respect, that when one of our own passes on, we write to each other in an attempt to share an understanding of that person’s life either shortly after or much longer after he or she served as president. It was both smooth and easy reading and writing regarding Sandy McFate. I always thought of Sandy as my contemporary yet she was considerably older.  She identified with every age group.
I was 36 years young when I served my first year as Director. Sandy was our President-Elect. During Board Meetings, every few hours we took a break. She often took me aside to explain an issue under discussion. When I would say, “I understand,” Sandy would politely attempt to tell me to stop asking questions to the board so I would not be advertising both my inexperience on a national board, nor waste the time of our board on a very long agenda. But what I realized from that time until the time I served as president was that President Sandy McFate was the only president of all the years I served who never used the president’s gavel. The power of the gavel is awesome; it stops everything. And if you knew Sandy, you knew she never raised her voice. In her inimitable style, Sandy commanded decorum and respect in any environment, a feat not easily achieved. Why? Because we all knew that when she spoke, Sandy was usually well-informed and correct in her comment. That is fact and says so much about a person.

Professionally speaking, Sandy was not fearful of failure, although never failed. Before videotaping in the legal setting was vetted or proven, Sandy’s was just about the first firm in the country to let the legal and reporting community know that she was offering said service. The rest is obviously history.

Personally speaking, I must quietly thank Sandy for offering me mentoring that assisted me in so many areas of our professional, business, and association lives. She was so proud to be married to the Hon. Yale McFate and equally proud of her accomplished daughter Joyce, who assumed Sandy’s videotaping practice at a high level.

Sandy, thanks for the help, for the leadership, for displaying sophistication at the highest level. And yes, when I drink carrot juice, I still think of you. May you rest in peace.


Woody Waga, RMR, CRR (Ret.)

Montclair, N.J.


We have lost some wonderful professional leaders this year. With Sandra McFate’s passing, I lost my mentor, my cheerleader, and my friend.  Sandy was there when, after reporting an entire month, I attended my first Arizona Shorthand Reporters Association meeting. She had just completed her term as president of ASRA and made sure I joined the association and started my committee work.

Sandy taught so many reporters by example. She was a pioneer for women reporters and always conducted herself with such warmth and grace. When most reporters were fearful of technology, and particularly audio and video recording, Sandy embraced this technology and showed us all how to use video recording to complement and enhance our reporting services.

Sandy was a great promoter of others. She made sure several reporters became Fellows and supported many people in her desire to see them receive the Distinguished Service Award. It was because of the continual support and encouragement of Sandy and a few other great reporters like her that I had the courage to help blaze the realtime trail, serve on the board of NCRA, and become president. When I had doubts or questions, she would tell me, “You know you can do it.” She was a great motivator and cheerleader. Sandra, thank you for all you have done for me and for our profession. You were a great leader, left a wonderful legacy, and you will be sorely missed.

Merilyn Sanchez, RMR, CRR (Ret.)

Chandler, Ariz.