Sandra Laby: A force of nature.

Sandra (I never called her Sandy) was always, to me, a powerhouse in Ventura County and the Southern California environs.

Sandra and her husband, Jordan, were philantrophists extraordinaire. Their largesse helped everyone: Ventura Music Festival, the magnificent Rubicon, New West Symphony and its fledgling Harmony Project. When the Ventura County Jewish Film Festival or Focus on the Masters or Camerata Pacifica came calling, the Labys delivered.

Now Sandra is gone.

But not without a fight. Boy, did she fight. Pancreatic cancer has never known such a formidable foe.

I’ve known her for almost 40 years, since I and my late wife, Sally, encountered this Lady with a Mission in Life.

OK, she was pushy. She would have been the first to admit it. But that’s the way she got things done. If she was dancing in a tango contest in Oxnard and she invited you, you’d better put in an appearance. Same goes for her prowess as a flamenco dancer.

She said what she thought — and it was oft, “damn the consequences.”

But she and Jordan were always angels in waiting: Once to a local single mother of two, working as a waitress and struggling to make ends meet. And they put blood, sweat, tears, years and lots of money into trying to make the San Buenaventura Foundation of the Arts a three-dimensional reality.

But above all I always remember how Jordan’s eyes always lit up whenever I asked him where he first met Sandra: in the Valley, where she was a teacher. One sunny afternoon, the young inventor Jordan looked over the schoolyard fence and spotted this vision of loveliness. It was a movie star moment.

He was smitten. Always was. Always will be.

Ivor Davis will host a fundraiser to benefit pancreatic cancer research on Sunday, Oct. 9. For more information visit