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Alpha L. (Johnston) Sandage (October 6, 1928 - June 18, 2013)
By: Iles Funeral Homes
June 24, 2013

Alpha L. (Johnston) Sandage, age 84, of West Des Moines, formerly of Ames, passed away on Tuesday, June 18, 2013, at Wesley Life Hospice at Edgewater in West Des Moines. In agreement with her wishes, cremation rites have been accorded.

Alpha was born on October 6, 1928, in Forest City, Iowa to John Francis ''Jack'' Johnston and Alice Anette (Severson) Johnston. She graduated from Forest City High School in 1946 where she participated as a cheerleader and drum majorette.

Alpha attended Waldorf Junior College for one year and finished a two year elementary course at Iowa State Teachers' College in Cedar Falls, where she was named ''Old Gold Queen.'' Her first teaching job was in Belmond where she met a young Voc. Ag. Teacher named Duane Sandage. They were married on June 19, 1949, in Forest City. They lived in Belmond, Iowa Falls, Clarion, Ames, and West Des Moines. They also enjoyed summers at their cabin on Ten Mile Lake in northern Minnesota and winter trips to Sanibel Island in Florida.

At the age of 51, Alpha returned to college as one of the first adult students at Iowa State in Ames, finishing her degree and graduating with honors in Family Environment. While in college, she developed a flare for creative writing and continued to enjoy lifelong learning.

A ''professional, tireless volunteer,'' Alpha left a positive influence on a multitude of organizations throughout her life. She served on many boards including Youth and Shelter Services, Mary Greeley Hospital Auxiliary, and PEO where she received her 60-year PEO membership pin. She was active in all the churches she attended and was the lay leader of the Fort Dodge District of the United Methodist Church. She hosted the initial meetings to start Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in Ames and was involved in many other Bible studies, including Joy on Mondays. Alpha and Duane influenced and generously supported many young people in their educational endeavors and missions throughout the world that were dear to their hearts.

Alpha considered her greatest accomplishments as celebrating 64 years of marriage, being the mother of three wonderful children and three special granddaughters. The legacy she leaves with them is the wisdom of her advice, the strength of her faith and character, her ongoing sense of humor and her tremendous love of family and friends.

Survivors include her husband, Duane Sandage of West Des Moines son, Scott J. Sandage of Evanston, IL daughter, Suanne M. Sandage of Des Moines son and daughter-in-law, Steven and Danielle Sandage of Minneapolis, MN grandchildren, Natasha Sandage of Evanston, and Kate and Camille Sandage of Minneapolis, MN sister and brother-in-law, Sylvia and James Kleen of North Mankato, MN sisters-in-law, Florence Johnston of Garner, IA, Shirley Johnston of Belmond, IA, and Antoinette Johnston of Osage, IA and many dear nieces, nephews, and wonderful friends. She was preceded in death by her parents sister, Mildred Johnston and three brothers, Robert Johnston, Maynard Johnston and Virgil Johnston.

A memorial visitation will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, at Iles Funeral Homes, Westover Chapel, located at 6337 Hickman Road, in Des Moines. A memorial service celebrating Alpha's life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 24, at First Evangelical Free Church, 2008 24th Street, Ames, IA 50010, where the family will also greet friends for one hour prior to the service on Monday. Graveside services will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, at Clarion Evergreen Cemetery in Clarion, with a time of fellowship immediately following at the First United Methodist Church, 201 3rd Ave NE, Clarion, Iowa 50525.

Memorial contributions may be made to First Evangelical Free Church in Ames, IA, Youth and Shelter Services also in Ames, or the Edgewater Good Samaritan Fund in West Des Moines.