In Memoriam: CAAA Commissioner Sandy Williams

CAAA is devastated by the tragic seaplane accident near Whidbey Island. Our hearts and condolences go out to the families of the 10 victims. Sadly, one of the victims is Sandra Renika Williams, a recent CAAA commissioner. We are in a state of shock and deeply grieve the loss of our dear colleague and friend.

Sandy was a true trailblazer and an extremely active community advocate in Spokane. Joining CAAA in 2013, she served two terms and did not shy away from the hard work of making life more equitable for people. While focused on the Black community, her work included all who were under-served and marginalized and she was always in the room championing the difficult social conversations. Her service to the commission was completely voluntary as none of our commissioners are paid, nor do they receive a stipend.

Her newspaper – the Black Lens – was one of the few minority publications in the state. She published the periodical monthly - both in print and online and was inspired by her father who was a long-time ROTC instructor at Gonzaga University. The newspaper was the voice of the community; incorporating the ideas and works of local Black journalists, job postings, and community events. She often spent a couple of days delivering the paper across Spokane and mailing it to subscribers both in-state and out.

We, like many others, are thankful for her gifts and leadership. Her work is not in vain! In 2019, she was named one of the Inland Northwest’s Women of the Year.  Not long ago, we reunited with Sandy during our May 2022 commission meeting where she shared her commissioner experience with our new cohort and briefed us about the Carl Maxey Center. She was very fond of her accomplishment: In just three years, she made the Center reality for the Spokane community and was steadily planning its future.

Sandy will be truly missed by all of us who worked with her, and over the years, developed a true friendship and relationship with her. Sandy's death is a tremendous loss for the Spokane area as well as Washington state. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and we will always cherish her memory. 

Rest in Power.