Sandra Zwerling

Sandra Chusid Zwerling, December 4, 1930 – June 10, 2021


“I was particularly close to Sandy.We were friends since 1936 and graduated  from Music and Art High School,” wrote her friend and fellow musical genius, Roy Eaton.

The following is an obituary composed by her daughters.

Sandra Zwerling

Sandra was a lifelong New Yorker who loved and fully inhabited the City. Hers was a full and rich life, marked by learning, teaching, the arts and advocacy, and deep and abiding love of family.

Born in the Bronx to immigrant parents from Eastern Europe, Sandra was from an early age a stellar student and immensely gifted pianist. She performed at the 1939 World’s Fair when she was only 9. She graduated at the top of her class from the High School of Music and Art and was admitted to the University of Chicago. Upon graduation from Chicago, she returned to New York to continue her musical education at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. In the late 1950s and continuing into the 1960s, Sandra taught music in a pioneering NYC public school program to reach underserved communities.

Sandra met the love of her life, Ben Zwerling, in the mid ’50s. They married in 1956. They built a life together on the Upper West Side where their children Susanna and Elizabeth were born and raised.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Sandra was part of the advocacy efforts of the second-wave feminists, changing politics locally and nationally forever. She was among the first to serve as an officer of the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women, and an early contributor to Ms. Magazine. A named leader in the historical anthology “Feminists who Changed America 1963-1975”, she later helped to found “Veteran Feminists of America,” which continued the fight for women’s rights into the 21st Century.

Sandra’s life was upended in 1975, when Ben was diagnosed with and months later died of cancer. Suddenly a single parent, Sandra regrouped. She took over editing the international trade publication founded by Ben. She also moved her family to a brownstone in Brooklyn. For the next several decades, Sandra taught writing at universities, including Rutgers, Pace and the New School for Social Research, and also resumed teaching in New York City public schools, this time as an English instructor.

For rest of her long life, music and the arts remained essential. Until her late 80s, she continued to teach piano to children from her Roosevelt Island home. She spent her days at New York’s museums and her evenings at Lincoln Center, Julliard, or the theater. Rarely buying tickets in advance, she routinely showed up for sold-out Broadway plays and Shakespeare in the Park – almost always securing a last-minute seat.

Sandra was a fiercely devoted and loving parent and grandparent. She adored and was adored by her daughters Susanna and Elizabeth and granddaughters Abby, Becca and Audrey.

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