Maarta Kathleen Sanders


image of Maarta Kathleen Sanders

Maarta Kathleen Sanders


March 31, 1988 – November 11, 2020


It is with great regret that we announce that Family, Friends and the World lost an incredibly special wife, mother, daughter, niece, aunt and person when Maarta passed away at the very young age of thirty-two (32) from Stage IV cervical cancer.

While growing up, Maarta had dual residences with her parents in Renton and on Orcas Island.  After graduating from Edmonds Community College, Maarta moved back to Orcas Island and started her career at Washington Federal as Assistant Manager while she continued with her education.

While living on Orcas, Maarta met, fell in love with and married the love of her life and her soul mate, Zackary Edward Sanders. Maarta and Zack moved from Orcas Island in 2018 to Woodinville and she started a new career with Charles Schwab.





















Maarta was so special, smart and caring. A selfless people person that was dedicated to her immediate family (Zack, Matthew, Kai and Andrew), dogs, career and home. Maarta liked and could talk with anyone. A special gift.
Maarta had a special personal calling as an artist at heart. She was smitten with flowers (sunflowers, and spider mum`s in particular), South Carolina, new unplanned adventures, the color purple, taking pictures of scenery, Christmas, interior design and being home with family.
Charles Schwab recently shared that they were naming their 8th Floor Conference center the “Maarta K. Sanders Memorial Conference Center” in her memory. Although Maarta had only been with Schwab for a couple of years she had a profoundly positive impact on so many people. Maarta was that type of person.
Maarta is survived by Zack Sanders, (husband); Matthew (son); Kai, Andrew, step-sons, Drew and Kathy Vandenberg (parents) and many other Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Friends. She spent her last few hours on this Earth at Evergreen Hospice in Kirkland. Rest in Peace, Maarta! We will forever love and miss you! Our bright shining angel.

40 Responses to “Maarta Kathleen Sanders”

  • Kaleena Mcgarry says:

    Her beautiful soul and what a wonderful human. I will always say that I was blessed to have known her and to have shared smiles, laughs, and sweet conversations. All my love to her family and close friends during this time of loss and transition. Her strong spirit will always be surrounding us all and even though not here in this physical realm her mark has been made and for that I am grateful. Much love and respect The McGarry Family.

  • Wendy Shinstine says:

    Prayers and hugs for all of your hearts. This is a beautiful tribute for Maarta. Her love was felt by all who met her.

  • Dawn Castaneda says:

    Our hearts are broken. Maarta had an amazing gift of making everyone around her feel like they were standing in a ray of sunshine. Her smile, her caring nature and her kind sense of humor will be forever remembered. She made such an impact on all our lives. Our love and prayers are with you always.

  • Tammy Myers says:

    Maarta was that rare person that everyone will agree only knew friends. Our friend has left this Earth; but is now one of our bright stars in the night sky- always twinkling. Always twinkling smiles in the dark. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and with her friends! Her legacy of love and friendship is ours to carryon!

  • Brian Cohrt says:


    Every second that I spent with you include a big, bright smile on your face – and such a positive attitude. You made (and will continue to make) me want to be a happier, fun-loving person. my most sincere condolences to your family.

    we miss you dearly.

    Brian C

  • Elaine Goodrich says:

    Maarta was a sweet and positive light and soul. With a ready smile and a huge heart, she graced everyone she touched. She was amazingly kind and caring when Joe had cancer and I am sure he welcomed her with open arms. Rest in Peace, dear Maarta.

  • Zackary Sanders says:

    My sweet Angel. I can remember when I first met you and how beautiful I thought you were. I remember going to the grocery store just to see if you were at work and I could find some change to buy some nonsense so I could go through your line. I remember the first time I put my arm around you at the market and how you smiled. You were my everything. You gave me the most wonderful 11 years anyone could wish for. I will always hold you close to my heart. Please watch over Matthew Andrew Kai and i and help me keep going. I love you so very much babe. Rest well, until I see you again.

    All my love

    You and me forever

    Zackary Edward Sanders (your lucky ass husband)

  • Patricia Plummer says:

    Bright lights brighten the world around them and the darkness recedes. You were such a light to those around you. May your family know the peace and comfort provided by Our Father.

  • Mike Parnell says:

    My favorite memory of Maarta was watching her play flag football at OCS. During one of our Elementary grade games she ran a play called “Bummer” and ended up in the enedione before anyone even knew she had the ball. Her face was like a bright light! I didn’t know how competitive she was until that moment. Fun girl who loved to have fun.

  • Clarabeth says:

    When I think of Maarta I think of warmth…I don’t have a memory of her when she wasn’t smiling! When I was small she was the cool big kid at OCS who always spoke to me as a friend, despite our age difference – she always made me feel special and seen. I also remember thinking she had the most beautiful hair I’d ever seen. As we grew into adults, Maarta beautifully exemplified how to love and serve one’s community. She was always doing something for other people out of the goodness of her heart, without seeking any recognition – she must have learned that from her parents 🙂 I’ll always remember Maarta’s warmth and Christlike selflessness. We are truly blessed to have known her (and her pretty hair!). Thank you God for letting us know, love, and be loved by precious Maarta. God bless you, Vandenberg and Sanders families – Maarta will always hold a special place in our hearts and we will never forget her legacy of love.

  • Kim Stokke says:

    Kathy, Drew, Zack, Matthew, Andrew and Kai,
    My heart is breaking for all of you . Maarta shared so much sunshine wherever she went . her smile could light up a room!She will be be missed so much . I know you all feel her loss in your lives so much. Prayers for Zack as you continue raising three wonderful sons without your life partner/soulmate by your side. Prayers for the boys as they miss out on the influence of Maarta in their lives. Prayer for Drew and Kathy as you mourn the loss of your beuatiful daughter. May you feel the love of others and the peace of God surrounding you during this awful time!
    Love, Cousin Kim

  • Prudy Nau says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to Maarta

  • Emma Smith says:

    I will always treasure the memories I have of Maarta from OCS when I was young. I looked up to her immensely — her confidence, her friendliness, her warmth. She had an air of such grace and kindness wherever she went, and I loved just being around it. We are all better because of Maarta’s loving and gentle touch in our lives. May angels welcome her home ❤️

    John 16:22

    “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

  • Lynsey Smith says:

    Maarta was a brilliant beacon of light to all who were blessed to know her. Her contagious smile would light up the room and our hearts. When she was a teenager younger kids would swarm to her when they saw her because she made them all feel so loved. As she moved into adulthood she set a tone of goodness and inclusivity wherever she went. Drew and Kathy, thank you for bringing her into the world to us and modeling a servant heart for her. Zack, thank you for loving her so fully. Matthew, Andrew, and Kai thank you for bringing her complete joy. My deepest sympathies and love to all.

  • Honora Mathisen-Lund says:

    Maarta has had an amazing impact in my life. Some of my first memories have her in them. I will miss her dearly, and will always remember the beautiful light she was in our lives. Rest in power Maarta!

  • Lori Lund says:

    My love and prayers to Zack, Matthew, Andrew, Kai and parents Kathy and Drew that you all be comforted by the memories of Maarta. Maarta touched people around her with a warm smile,sparking blue eyes, and her happiness.

    Maarta was my remarkable and courageous niece who made a valiant effort in her battle with cancer. Even during her hardest struggles she was positive and caring about how others were doing. This was an amazing gift. Maarta shared her light on those around her and will continue this brightness in our days to come. I love you so very much Maarta! Love always & forever,
    Aunty Lori

  • Young Aunt Nancy says:

    What an awesome tribute to Maarta! Larrie & I became friends with the Vandenbergs in the early 90’s when Maarta was around 4. She adopted me as young Aunt Nancy because she already had another older Aunt Nancy(and Uncle Larrie)! God brought us together this past year in a very special way. She texted me almost weekly, usually with “how are you doing”. She was a fighter to the end. Maarta’s light will shine in all our hearts forever. I will miss you Ms. M, but I know we will meet again! Love you, Young Aunt Nancy

  • Deborah Sampson says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful, talented and amazing young wife, Mama, daughter and friend to many. Thankful that you touched so many lives in such a powerful and profound way. Love and prayers for those who love you so dearly as they walk through the path of grief at the sudden loss, until we meet again. Love, Deb and Doug Sampson

  • Marta Branch says:

    So sorry to hear this. I was unaware– the pandemic has had us very isolated. My heart aches for those of you left behind. So hard–especially with one so full of life and so young. My/our prayers for healing and solace are with you all.
    With our love,
    Marta and Phil Branch

  • Drew Vandenberg says:

    January, 2021
    Maarta it has been two long months since you passed and we all miss you so very much. I miss the first 12 years when we were so close and we did things like holding hands when crossing a street or going shopping. Miss always being there for you as needed and then as you were married and had a family. Your death so early in life was just not right. I now spend every minute I can with your amazing Matthew. He is so special as a two year old. When he hurts his finger or other little thing, he cries for “Mommy” …and you are not here except in our hearts. When I retire soon, my plan is to write a book about you. A book that will allow Matthew to grow up and know his very special Mom and to keep you in his heart and mind forever. Love and miss you so very much! Dad

  • Drew Vandenberg says:

    July, 2021
    My dearest Maarta! It has been eight long months since you passed and I think of you daily. Your loving husband and son have moved to Arizona to start anew and we plan to follow. I often think of what we could have done to prevent your illness and death at such a young age but that time has passed. I need to move on and honor your life by spending as much time as possible with your wonderful son Matthew. We will do all we can to provide him with the opportunities that a long, healthy and happy life can provide. Love you and miss you……always! Dad

  • Zackary Sanders says:

    My Love:

    We are approaching 1 year and it still doesn`t feel like any of this is real. I miss you so much, and would give anything in this world to have you home. Matthew is growing so much and he misses you dearly. We love you so much!!

    Until we meet again

  • Dawn Atkinson says:

    Oh gosh Maarta, so hard to believe that its almost be a year. You would be so proud of your guys. Kai and Andrew are turning into good young men. Zack and Matthew have left and went to AZ. Which seems to be going good for them. Matthew is doing well. Zack has done you proud in raising him. We all miss you so much. Until we meet again. Love you forever daughter

  • Kari Joanne Costanza says:

    Losing Maarta was an unexpected turn in our family’s history. She was living life to the full. She’d found true love, was a wonderful mom and was making the world a better place for everyone she encountered. Maarta will never be forgotten. She will continue to live on in our hearts. Someday we will all meet again in that place where many rooms await. John 14:2 I look forward to seeing that smile. Thank you, cousin, for living such a beautiful life.

  • Sky Sander says:

    Maarta was a caring and loving person. I appreciated her smile, positive outlook, and desire to help people. She was fantastic to work with.

  • John and Liz Croonquist says:

    We will never know nor understand your great loss as her parents. Our hearts hurt for you, but we know our Savior is very near you to comfort, strengthen and uphold you. Our memories of Maarta are mainly of her as a delightful, full-of-life, full-of-smiles and beautiful, intelligent child. She was a joy for us to be around on our many visits both in Renton and on Orcas. May the Lord continue to heal and restore your souls, and give you His peace. It’s only through His marvelous grace that He sees us through life’s greatest pains and challenges – He’s there for you. Love and prayers from us. We’re now living in Idaho.

  • Marisa Medeiros says:

    You were such a good friend to me, you were there growing up when I needed someone, and I always appreciated you so very much. You were like a sister to me, and I was so happy we were able to reconnect. We had so many good times together, and I’m so grateful for you. I love you so much!
    Your friend forever,

  • William Hurtado says:

    My heart is with yours as I grieve this loss. No one knows the depth of your sorry, but we are thankful that you have embraced us all as you share your loss. Maarta was a wonderful woman, and she is greatly missed. We can only hope for a better future through Jesus Christ, our resurrected Savior and Lord. He is coming back to bring new life to His children. Much love and prayers.

  • Harriet Shull says:

    Drew and Kathy, what a lovely, charismatic daughter you raised. Her loss was devastating, but you know that you will be reunited as I will with my little Bill. What joy in Heaven! Zach, you brought out the best in Maarta to the great benefit of your family! Our love and best wishes to you and your boys, Rich and Harriet

  • Lisa & Mike Gage says:

    Drew and Kathy hard to believe its been one year, thinking about Maarta today and remembering her beautiful soul, her sweet smile, and her kindness she exuded to all! Continued Prayers for you both, miss seeing you on Orcas. God Bless Lisa & Mike Gage

  • Auntie Linda & Uncle Bill says:

    Our little football; we miss you so much! We Remember when you were so tiny and we came up with your nickname. You were a joy that brought out smiles in every one. U were a wonderful woman who impacted many lives. We feel fortunate that you were in our lives however way too short of time. We think about you every day and love you so much! Kathy,Drew, Zack and Mathew we send our love and prayers. Thinking of you❤️

  • Kyle Gallagher says:


    It has been years and years since I had seen or talked with you, but the news of your passing is just incredibly sad.

    You were always nothing but smiles and your friendly personality will always be how I remember you.

    Rest in peace Maarta.

    Kyle Gallagher

  • Louise Tucker says:

    Drew and Kathy, and all of Maarta’s family and friends, my heart aches for your painful loss. Though I didn’t have opportunity to know her better, every encounter with Maarta here on Orcas was a bright spot in my day. Such a radiant smile she had for everyone. Deep peace and healing blessings to you… ❤️

  • Beverly Van Valkenburg says:

    Drew – My heart aches for you, Kathy & Maarta’s family! As one that has lost a child, I greive with you. May God fill your void with wonderful memories of Maarta. Knowing we will see them later in heaven brings a bit of peace.
    — Beverly Van Valkenburg (former employee of Air Van Lines)

  • Auntie Debbie says:

    Kathy, Drew and Maarta have been an ‘adopted’ part of my family for over 40 years. She’s always been a little cutie! I was Blessed to be able to visit her shortly before she passed to be with Jesus. She remained smiling, and upbeat asking about others. She will be truly missed. May God give her family Peace!

  • Marta Branch says:

    Dear neighbors…

    I can only imagine your pain– sending you loving prayers.

    I remember meeting Maarta the first time, and the many times we had laughing, playful conversations after that. One of many things we laughed about is who’s parents had spelled the name “wrong”– hers or mine!! So much fun to have another with “your” name when your name happens to be so unusual. I was 27 before I met another. And then here on Orcas there were three of us at that time.

    She was such a lovely, happy soul. They say “The good die young”. So unfortunately true in this case. If I could trade with her, and save you this pain, I would. They definitely took the “wrong” Marta– although she is likely the better person.

    Phil joins in sending our love to your family.

  • Vala Ross says:

    I miss you, my friend. You would be so proud of the boys this year, how they have grown in size and character. Thank you for being such a wonderful mother and guiding them with your kindness. Truly in our hearts forever, we miss you and love you.
    -Vala and the boys

  • Drew Vandenberg says:

    My Dearest Maarta……..
    It has been 1 year and 7 months since you have passed & it feels like so long ago. We so miss you! Mom & I have moved to Arizona to remain close to your wonderful son & our grandson Matthew. He turned 4 recently and we spend as much time as we can with him. Playing “find me” or baseball, building forts in our living room, reading and just being with him. He is so smart! Wish you could be here to see him grow up. I periodically read about cervical cancer and so regret that it was not prevented so you could have enjoyed another 40-50 years of a beautiful life. Just wanted to share that Mom and I think of you often. Love you and miss you
    forever! Dad

  • Drew Vandenberg says:

    My Dear Maarta…it has been two years and six months since you passed. I still struggle periodically to accept your death and missing out on a long and happy life. Mom and I have spent most of the past week with Matthew here in Gilbert (AZ) and he is such a joy. We are so close to him & have so much fun. He just turned 5 years old and had a nice birthday party. He received a new scooter & helmet plus other. Matthew is getting ready to go to Kindergarten. I walk most days and use the special walking stick I made for you in 1999. We think of you often and miss you. Forever with love, Dad

  • Kathy Vandenberg says:

    Maarta I apologize I haven’t shared my grief of losing you, the long stays by your bedside, the only reason I joined facebook was to be able to know how you were doing, while maturing into adulthood.

    Oh my goodness the flood of memories & the people you’ve touched-tons more than we knew, but God knew. You chose Him as a young child & I believe I’ll see you again.

    I know His ways aren’t ours, but He is just & very wise, beyond our understanding. So precious one, I’m trusting in His keeping of your soul & am so thankful we got to enjoy you for such a season as He allowed.

    Your Son Matthew, is amazing, I know every grandparent feels so- he’s so articulate & expressive, I am amazed as he’s developing into such a wonderful young man at the age of 5. God’s goodness & purposes continue in Matthew. Bless Zack & all who care for our Matthew, I praise our Lord for His purposes of Your life. I thank all who have shared, tho’ the loss has been epic,I know God can heal & as I said earlier we will see you again, dear special Sweetpea, love mom.

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