Keeping close to kin and K-State

Kids and grandkids create a scholarship to honor Tracy and Mary Sandow.  

By Mary Hirtreiter

Campaign Themes:

“If today’s K-State students go on to live their lives and serve their professions with the integrity, commitment and class exemplified by Tracy and Mary Sandow, they will do themselves — and their alma mater — proud.”— Sherri Sandow Dees


Tracy and Mary Sandow of Monroe, Louisiana, stay connected to the people and places they love. While the couple’s three children, Sherri, John and Allan; six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren are spread out from coast to coast, they all remain close where it counts the most – in their hearts.

Similarly, Tracy and Mary retain a deep affection for their Kansas upbringing and time at K-State more than 60 years after Tracy completed his B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1958.

It seems fitting, then, that Tracy and Mary’s kids and grandkids have created a scholarship in their honor through the Bosco Family Scholarship program – thus serving the K-State family of today and tomorrow.

 “We wanted to express our love, respect and appreciation in a meaningful and enduring way,” said Sherri Sandow Dees, eldest of Tracy and Mary’s children. “When we learned of the wonderful generosity of the Bosco matching program, we knew this was the perfect opportunity for us.”

“Mom and dad are an amazing couple, true partners in life, and it is important to note that this scholarship honors both,” Sherri said. “Throughout their nearly 68 years of marriage, they have demonstrated a great commitment to one another and to their family, friends and faith.”

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Tracy and Mary’s values and outlook on life took root as native Kansas farm kids. “They have an unsurpassed work ethic and are very resilient people who understand that life, like the next crop, doesn’t come with guarantees, so you better appreciate the good times and learn to persevere through the not-so-good times,” Sherri said.

After graduating from high school, Tracy worked on the family farm and in retail in Abilene, Kansas, for several years before enrolling at K-State. With his young wife, Mary, in tow, Tracy was not your traditional college student. Then, Sherri was born. The couple had their hands full.

To help make ends meet, Tracy worked in the K-State Library and later as an engineering research assistant. He also benefited from scholarships from The Dow Chemical Company, the Sparks Foundation and Universal Oil Products. “We are excited to do the same for current K-State students and hope they, in turn, will give back when and where they can,” Sherri said.

Tracy’s K-State experience played a major role in his success in process engineering and plant management roles with some of the world’s leading chemical and petrochemical companies in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Later in his career, he served as a consultant to companies on various ammonia plant projects in the Gulf Coast area.

“Dad came out of K-State well-schooled in the fundamentals of engineering and prepared to hit the ground running,” Sherri said. “His education helped him learn to think analytically, an approach he has tried to impart to his children and grandchildren.”

While Mary did not attend K-State, she was a key force in making Tracy’s education possible. In 1958, her co-workers at the Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company presented her with a “P.H.T. Degree” for “Putting Husband Through,” Sherri noted. “Mom still treasures that honorary diploma.”

In addition to serving her family as a homemaker, Mary taught kindergarten classes and has had a long career as a custom seamstress. She has tried to retire, but long-time clients and word of mouth referrals keep her in demand.

“If today’s K-State students go on to live their lives and serve their professions with the integrity, commitment and class exemplified by Tracy and Mary Sandow, they will do themselves — and their alma mater — proud,” Sherri said.

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