A proud resident of Fort Collins, Colorado, for more than five decades, Sandra Phippen Klein passed away at age 85 on October 27, 2022. Throughout her life, Sandra’s interests were seemingly without limit, and included sailing, skiing, and hiking, cooking and gardening, socializing with a wide range of friends, singing in the church choir, and especially theater costume and clothing design.
Sandra was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on January 18, 1937, to Betsey Dunn Phippen (née Betsey Louise Dunn), and Henry Osgood Phippen, Jr. The medical attendant at Sandra's birth was her great-uncle, Walter G. Phippen, dean of medicine at Salem Hospital. Raised in Wenham, Sandra acquired the nickname "Knat", which she used with her parents throughout their lives. She was joined two years later by her brother Clark (known as "Cork"), and both enjoyed a typical New England childhood -- summers on Boston's North Shore, visits to family in Vermont, church fairs, and more. From 1950 to 1954 she attended the Northfield School; from her work in the cafeteria she retained many simple but tasty recipes that would go on to nourish her future family.
Sandra chose to attend the University of Vermont (UVM), where she majored in clothing and textiles. Not long after arriving, she met fellow student Donald Albert Klein of Stratford, Connecticut, and they married on July 14, 1956. Their first child, Greta, was born the following year, followed by son Leighton in 1959. In 1961 the family moved to Germany, where Donald studied for his doctorate in microbiology at the University of Tübingen and daughter Leslie arrived.
Returning to the United States in 1962, Sandra and Donald both enrolled at Pennsylvania State University, where she finished her undergraduate degree and he obtained his Ph.D. It was at Penn State where Sandra's interest in theater was born, when she managed a 12-person team that created costumes for a production of The King and I at the State College Community Theatre. When her husband selected Oregon State University for post-doctorate work, Sandra and her family moved to Corvallis, making the nearly 3,000-mile journey in their Ford Country Squire station wagon, towing a VW beetle. Sandra continued her costume work in Oregon, volunteering at the Valley Round Barn Theatre, and took part in productions such as Barefoot in the Park and The Cactus Flower. Son Spencer was born in 1968.
Sandra and her family came to Fort Collins, Colorado, after Donald accepted a post as a fully tenured professor of microbiology at CSU. In 1971 they built a house on Terry Lake, of which they took full advantage, swimming and sailing in summer and skating and cross-country skiing in winter. Sandra loved to organize big events there, including an annual clambake, May Day celebrations, and countless dinners. Rocky Mountain National Park was also one of their favorite recreation spots. She and her husband were longtime members of Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, where both sang in the choir, led activities and socialized. With friends at CSU, they also helped launch the tongue-in-cheek Northern Colorado Ichthyological Phenomena Society (NCIPS), which posited the possible existence of a “Horsetooth monster” in the reservoir. Its inaugural 1975 conference merited a front-page article in The Coloradan.
It was at the Shore Road house that Sandra established her own business, specializing in theater costumes, period clothing, and especially wedding dresses and innumerable bridesmaids' gowns. She was a stalwart member of the costume crew for many madrigal and Renaissance dinners as well as Shakespeare productions, and her professional Singer sewing machine kept up with it all. The two summers that she worked in the costume department of the Sante Fe Opera company, 1985 and 1986, remained a highlight for her.
Throughout their lives together, Sandra and Don continued to drive across the United States on a regular basis, in particular for summers with her parents in Wenham, cousins on Boston's North Shore, and the families of her aunts Dorothy ("Dot") in Vermont and New Hampshire and Nancy ("Nan") in New York City. Later in life, Sandra and Donald purchased and rebuilt a home near Falmouth, on Cape Cod. Donald passed away in 2016, and Sandra spent her remaining years visiting her children and grandchildren in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
Sandra is survived by her four children, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, her brother, and numerous members of her extended family. She will be remembered for her creativity, kindness, energy, and generosity. At her request, her ashes were placed at Saint Luke's church in Fort Collins.