Tireless community advocate’s death mourned

Tireless community advocate's death mourned
Photo of the late Sandi Genser-Maack and her husband Lynn Maack, courtesy of Joshua Genser.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that the memorial service has been set for Sunday, Dec. 17, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Richmond Country Club.

Countless local residents have both witnessed and marveled at the tireless community service by Sandi Genser-Maack, who proved that one person really can be in 10 places at once.

One of the community’s hardest working advocates, we at the Richmond Standard join the many who were saddened and stunned to hear the news of her death. Her brother Joshua Genser, an attorney who is also a highly involved community member, reported in an email to community members as well as on social media that his sister passed away on Sunday, Nov. 26.

“Although it seems rather sudden — and was because we found out about her illness so late — she had been ill for some time,” Genser said.

Sandi’s death has led to an outpouring of condolences from local politicians, city officials, journalists, business leaders, neighborhood council members — practically everyone. She worked on an untold number of projects that touched all parts of the community.

Sandi was a fixture alongside her husband Lynn Mack, who she met as a young student at Portola Junior High. Married since 1968, the couple “devoted themselves to making Richmond a better place for everyone,” according to her obituary. This devotion was witnessed first-hand by the Richmond Standard staff, who relied on Sandi heavily for reports on local fundraisers and events.

“Sandi was one of the most community-involved volunteers I have ever known,” Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said. “She set the standard.”

Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney called her “one of the most affable and sincere people in Richmond.” Assemblymember Tony Thurmond called her “one of Richmond’s finest,” while veteran Bay Area News Group journalist Chris Treadway described her as “a vital part of the community.”

“Those who knew her will always remember her wonderful spirit, warm smile and wry humor that brightened every community meeting,” said Felix Hunziker, a member of the Richmond Citizens Police Review Commission. “She was a fantastic booster of all things Richmond.”

Her obituary listed some of the organizations she was involved with, but they were “just the tip of the iceberg,” according to Mayor Butt.

For more than two decades, Sandi was president of the North and East Neighborhood Council. She was a board member for the Richmond Museum Association, chair of Richmond’s Historic Preservation Commission, chair of the Board of the Richmond Public Library Foundation, president of the Richmond Kiwanis Club and Lt. Gov. of Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha District, Division 2.

“She also served as a docent at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park Visitors Center and as volunteer at pancake breakfasts and other events on the Red Oak Victory Ship,” the obituary stated.

Sandi was born in 1945 to a military family stationed in Fresno. Once discharged, the family moved to Richmond to live in affordable housing that had been built for WWII Kaiser Richmond Shipyard workers.

She attended Woodrow Wilson and Mira Vista elementary schools and Portola Junior High. She graduated from El Cerrito High School in 1963 and earned a degree in Sociology at San Francisco State University.

For careers, she was a recreation director at Canyon Trail Park in El Cerrito, a leader with Weight Watchers, a volunteer coordinator for the Richmond Museum of History and a director of events with the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, according to her obit.

Along with her husband and brother Joshua, Sandi is survived by her mother Clara-Rae Genser and her sisters-in-law Elaina Genser and Carol Armour.

The memorial service has been set for Sunday, Dec. 17, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Richmond Country Club.

“In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sandi’s memory to the Richmond Museum Association, P.O. Box 1267, Richmond, CA 94802,” according to the obituary.