Sandy McKew died in her sleep, home in the mountains she loved, on July 18, 2019.

Born Mary Sandra Rechtsteiner in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 2, 1947, she and her beloved husband of 49 years, Walter Martin McKew, had been overjoyed to make Sun Valley, Idaho, their home.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Carl and Ruth Rechtsteiner, and her older brother, Steve Rechtsteiner. She is survived by Walt; her daughters, Quinn and Molly; adored son-in-law, Rob; grandchildren, Tiernan and Tristan; and siblings, Mark and Carol.

Mischievous and independent from the start, Sandy graduated from St. Mary’s College with a degree in political science and a minor in music, which she studied during a year spent abroad in Vienna, where she also discovered the magic of pastry. During her travels in Europe, she hitchhiked to Israel with a friend, arriving just in time for the Six Day War—a story she never told her parents.

An ardent feminist and activist her whole life, she had a long and successful career as a city planner and civil engineer, and would grumble to anyone in the car with her about poorly designed traffic flow.

She discovered Sun Valley on her first day in Idaho in 1980, dragged along by her Hemingway-obsessed husband—and immediately fell in love. She would often let her young daughters play hooky from school for day trips up from Boise, searching out all the best pools and hot springs and trails for spring wildflowers. She taught her daughters independence and stubbornness, and was proud to see them pursue careers full of challenges and adventures.

Idaho was also where Sandy discovered her other passion—cooking—and she became an accomplished home chef. She readily gave out her recipes, but they were always missing ingredients, and you could never be sure if that was on purpose or not—but hers always tasted better, regardless.

The family moved away in the ’90s, but Idaho was always home, and the McKews bought a vacation home in Sun Valley in 2004, spending more and more time here in their retirement, surrounded by friends and beauty. Sandy loved to watch the sunset from the pool at The Bluffs, waiting for the ducks to fly over, wherever they were going. She made it back for one last sunset.

A memorial service will be held at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in Sun Valley, Idaho, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 25, and is open to friends from the community, especially those in Hawaiian shirts. Memorial donations can be made to The Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho (comlib.org).