Amid noon-time bustle and the warm aroma of South Indian cuisine, the LEO family of Sandra Walls gathered at Madras Masala in Ann Arbor on a mid-September Friday to celebrate her retirement as the union's business manager. For over seven years, hers was the quiet, calm and sympathetic voice that LEO members heard when they phoned the office with questions or concerns.
"I always felt better after talking with Sandra," said Jim Anderson, LEO Treasurer. "Partly it was because of her calm manner, but mostly it was because she is so competent and professional. She kept the books. She worked on the budgets. She arranged for the audits. I always knew that LEO's day-to-day finances were in the best possible hands."
Anderson noted that all of LEO's treasurers have been volunteers, and that a skilled, experienced, trusted business manager is a must. "I'm sure all of our treasurers have slept better knowing that Sandra was on the job."
He added, "It also helped that she's so nice!"
Those sentiments were echoed by many others, including Janella James, LEO's Chief Organizer, who worked along side Sandra Walls for many years. "Sandra will be missed at the LEO office," said James. "Her hard, consistent and detailed work has helped our union run smoothly."
After announcing her plans to retire, Walls helped the union find and hire a new business manager, Brenda Brown, who started work in late August. Walls remained on the job part-time to ease the transition.
"Sandra didn't leave us in the lurch," said Anderson. "She's trained her own replacement. With Brenda, the local's business record-keeping remains in great hands."
More than that, Anderson added, "both Sandra and Brenda support LEO's cause and members. They care about the numbers, yes, but they care about the people more."
Sandra Walls and Brenda Brown in the LEO office, Ann Arbor.
Photos by Janella James