Sandra Dragon, longtime president of Associated Industries of Vermont, died March 25 in Middlebury, according to an obituary published in VTDigger.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held April 3 at St. Anthony’s Church in Burlington.
According to the obituary, Dragon died peacefully after a valiant battle with cancer. She was born on August 5, 1940, at Bishop DeGoesbriand Hospital, now part of the UVM Medical Center. She attended Cathedral Elementary and High Schools, where she excelled in academics, Pollyette dancing, and as majorette for the High School Band.
She started her career as a clerk at a local stock brokerage, then to the newly created Federal War on Poverty, where she would become Vermont head. Then to Governor Richard Snelling’s administration, where she would become Commissioner of Employment and Training. And finally, to Associated Industries of Vermont, a longtime and leading trade organization for manufacturers and other industries, where she would become President.
Those who knew her would say that the following eulogy, republished from the obituary, aptly describes Sandra Dragon:
“Sandra was a force of nature – known for her boundless energy, irrepressible spirit, and unmistakable style of communication – direct, forceful, and unequivocal – with a sprinkling of colorful, even salty, language to make sure she had your attention. You never had any doubt as to where she stood, where she believed you stood, and what you should be doing to get to where you should be.
“At the same time, she was a person of profound compassion and empathy. Some would never see this side of her. Those who did, would never forget it. She was a fierce advocate for principles and causes in which she believed, and for the people that she loved.
“She had a quick wit, a facetious sense of humor, and was a great storyteller. She had a little bit of a temper, but sometimes that’s necessary when you’re shattering glass ceilings decades ago, in a culture dominated by men who didn’t understand the changes ahead, for which she was a pioneer. But many did listen, and learn – not just because of her forceful personality, but because they knew she was a person of honor and integrity, and could support with evidence and principle, whatever point she was making. She was unafraid to disagree with those in power, and to challenge what they proposed or concluded, when she believed they were misguided.”
She is survived by her partner William Sayre of Bristol, her daughter Paula Dragon of Middlebury, her sisters Angelina Beardsley and Marianna Dutra of Burlington, her brothers Clifford (Kathy) of South Burlington, James (Kellie) of Colchester, and Joseph (Diane) of Austin, Texas, and many other family members.
I worked at the Office of Manpower Services (later called the Comprehensive Employment and Training Office) in the early to mid 70s and I still remember her. I liked her a lot. She was a very confident, competent, leader, sometimes brash, and, as far as I could tell, admired and loved by just about everyone she worked with. My condolences to her family and friends.
I loved this woman. She was fierce, fiery, spirited and had one of the biggest hearts you could ever meet. I will miss her forever. Sandy (yes, I was one of the few who it was ok to call her this as I’ve known her since childhood) always believed in me and anything I pursued which I will forever be grateful for. This world is a better place because she was in it.
Sandra was a legend. We are sorely missing leaders like Sandra in these days of polictical correctness, virtue signalling and wokism that accomplishes nothing. Blessings and peace to her dearest she leaves behind.