Obituary: Sandra Ione Barnett

Sandra Ione Barnett
Sandra Ione Barnett
Provided Photo

April 11, 1944 – December 6, 2022

Sandra Ione Barnett, 78, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., passed away to her eternal resting place on December 6, 2022, surrounded by loved ones.

Sandra’s calling on this earth was to care for others – which she did, with a joyful and humble heart, every single day of her life.

Her legacy as a nurse touched the lives of thousands. Sandra served as a public health nurse in Garfield County for more than 30 years, where she was known for her knack of giving the most gentle shots. As the department’s infectious disease specialist, she made countless visits to the homes and workplaces of Garfield County families to curb an outbreak of tuberculosis. Hispanic families in the valley especially appreciated this outreach. After her retirement, she was called back in 2020 for 18 months to assist in tracing the spread of Covid-19.

Before moving to Glenwood Springs in 1978, Sandra made an indelible mark on the field of neonatal intensive care nursing. With nursing colleagues, Sandra pioneered the role of neonatal critical care nurse practitioner, and created Colorado’s first such training program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver to certify registered nurses as specialists in this field. She co-authored an article about the program’s success, published in the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing in 1979. Her extensive work in this field led to a highlighted acknowledgement in the book “The Expanding Role of the Nurse in Neonatal Intensive Care,” published in 1980. This work by Sandra and her colleagues has moved Colorado from having the country’s fourth-highest rate of premature infant mortality to having the nation’s highest rate of premature infant survival.

A natural extension of her caring personality was the love Sandra showered on her family and friends. She was the rock of her immediate family. It was a fateful day in 1974 in the lift line at Copper Mountain when Victor Zerbi, Jr., asked Sandra to ride with him up the mountain. Their day of skiing together evolved into a lifelong partnership. They married on Sept. 11, 1976, and welcomed their only child, a daughter, Mérida, in December 1978. Sandra was a devoted and caring mother and wife, patiently and steadfastly supporting Vic and Mérida in pursuing their passions, although she was known to hide her eyes every time Mérida was on the balance beam. Somehow, Sandra survived decades of Vic’s bad puns.

Sandra kept a small circle of friends, with whom she loved to share, laugh, hike and cross-country ski. She loved wildflowers and starry nights. She devoured books. She loved to travel and cherished every trip. She cared deeply for animals, especially her extremely spoiled 20-pound cats. She gave freely of her time to support the congregation she loved at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church, including serving as the camp nurse for many summers at Camp Illium, near Telluride.

Sandra Ione Barnett was born April 11, 1944, in Huntingburg, Ind., to Earl Nolan and Oma Olin (Condra) Barnett and grew up in rural southern Indiana. In Indiana, she and her brother were well-known as “Sissy” and “Sonny.” Sandra graduated from Paoli High School in 1962, earned her R.N. from the John N. Norton Memorial Infirmary in Louisville, Ky., in 1965, earned her B.A. in Distributive Studies: Anthropology and Philosophy from University of Colorado at Denver in 1974, and received three advanced nursing certifications: Neonatal Critical Care Nurse Specialist in 1976, Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing in 1982, and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in 1983. In her nursing career, she worked at hospitals in Cincinnati, Miami, Stanford, Denver and Grand Junction.

Sandra is survived by her husband, Victor; her daughter, Mérida; her brother, Samuel Barnett and his wife, Judy; niece Stephanie Fuller, her husband, John, and their children Bradley, Sydney and Tyler; by cousins Wanda Rae Barnett, John Barnett, Glenda Hott, Donald Condra, Jerry Condra and their families; by brother-in-law James Zerbi; by nieces Michelle and Nicole Zerbi; and by many other extended family members and close friends.

She was proceeded in death by her parents, dear friend (and godmother to Mérida) Connie Sue Terrell, and cousins Robert, Billy and Thomas Condra, and Mildred (Condra) Smith.

A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glenwood Springs, followed by a reception at the church.

The family is requesting that any donations be made in Sandra’s name to the American Heart Association’s Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing Education Fund.

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