Sandra Dutra Dragon, 82, of Bristol


BRISTOL — Sandra Dutra Dragon died peacefully on March 25 after a valiant battle with cancer. She was born on Aug. 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.

Sandra advanced steadily in her career, starting as a clerk at a local stock brokerage, then to the newly created Federal War Poverty, where she would become the Vermont head, then to Governor Snelling’s Administration, where she would become Commissioner of Employment and Training. And finally, to Associated Industries of Vermont, where she would become president.

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 she loved. For this reason, and in this way, she formed deep bonds of friendship, respect, and love with whom and for whom she advocated.

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 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.

Most of all she loved her family. And like a good Italian grandmother, she loved to cook, and holiday celebrations. We will miss her Easter Baskets this year.

Sandra 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; her grandchildren, Justin Bristol of Burlington, Christopher Loyer of Colchester, David Loyer of Burlington, Robert Loyer of Burlington, Eric Loyer of Bristol, Jennifer Loyer (James Goodyear) of Bristol, Allison Weston of Jacksonville, N.C., and Elizabeth Sayre (Mark Deering) of Bristol; as well as many great-grandchildren whom she loved dearly, as she did her many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Sandra was predeceased by her parents, Clifford Dutra and Victoria Olio Dutra son Robert “Bobby” Dragon of Burlington, her grandson Anthony Loyer of Burlington and her sister Marie Dutra of Burlington.

The family would like to thank the staff at UVMMC as well as Addison County Home Health & Hospice, and Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Middlebury for their care and kindness. For those who wish, donations to St. Jude Hospital, Veterans support groups, and Native American organizations, she would have welcomed.

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Monday, April 3, 2023, at 11 a.m., at St Anthony’s Church, 305 Flynn Ave., Burlington, Vt., with burial following at Resurrection Park, 200 Hinesburg Rd, South Burlington. This was immediately followed by a celebration of Sandra’s life that was open to all family and friends wishing to pay their respects, at the Double Tree Hotel at 870 Williston Rd., S. Burlington. ◊


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