Sandra G. Karl


March 17, 1943  –  May 30, 2024

image of Sandra G. Karl

Sandra G. Karl

Sandra G. Karl, a social worker, community leader, advocate for special needs children and their families, and a lifelong champion for cats, died on Thursday, May 30th in Seattle, Washington. She was 81.

Born Sandra J. Gillmeister in Ithaca, NY on March 17, 1943, to Carl J. and Loretta A. (Kinyoun) Gillmeister, she graduated from Ithaca High School in 1961 and St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD in 1965. She immediately volunteered with the American Red Cross in South Korea supporting U.S. Troops there, then pivoted to the field of social work, earning a Master of Social Work, a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Education from Syracuse University along the way. She was an early advocate of integrated classroom experiences for children of all abilities, which is now standard across the U.S. During her nearly 40-year career, she worked at the United Cerebral Palsy in Syracuse, the Franziska Racker Center in Cortland, and the Onondaga County Department of Health/Special Children’s Services.

In addition to her work on behalf of children and families, Sandy helped found the Central New York Cat Coalition (CNYCC) in 2000 and volunteered tirelessly to rescue and find homes for stray and feral cats. She was described as “the glue holding the organization together.”  After her retirement in 2009, and then her move to Seattle in 2014, Sandy served as the primary scheduler for CNYCC’s low-cost spay and neuter program until May 2024, when she could no longer carry out her volunteer duties due to complications from lymphoma.

Sandy will be interred with a private ceremony at Grove Cemetery in Ithaca, NY where seven generations of her family have been buried. She is survived by her daughter, Lisa Karl (Brenda Johnson), grandson Max Johnson-Karl of Seattle, WA; sister Carlita (Ron) Beltz of Phoenix, AZ; brothers Carl J. (Janet) Gillmeister of Buffalo, NY; and David C (Lisa) Gillmeister of Oneida, NY as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.

After her family, the Central New York Cat Coalition (CNYCC) was her passion. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please give generously to the Central New York Cat Coalition through PayPal or via check to “CNYCC,” PO Box 6182, Syracuse, NY 13217.  CNYCC is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization a New York State Registered Shelter/Rescue.

One Response to “Sandra G. Karl”

  • Judy Giarrosso says:

    She was the greatest advocate for stray cats and kittens. I was a foster for her starting in 2002. She worked tirelessly saving so many. Continuously ran an ad in the Pennysaver for adoptable cats and kittens.(before computers). She was always upbeat and positive. I truly sweet and good person. I will miss her immensely.☹️😻

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