Conway cat advocate set example of kindness, care
Sandy Stager’s advocacy on behalf of abused and abandoned cats was one example of her commitment to helping those who could not help themselves.
Since she began her quest 12 years ago, Mrs. Stager became known as the “cat lady from Conway” and placed dozens of cats into caring homes, said her husband, John Stager. In 2001, Animal Friends named her Volunteer of the Year.
“Sandy worked closely with the groups Foster Cat and Homeless Cat, organizations geared to putting cats up for adoptions,” Stager said.
Sandra R. Stager of Conway, formerly of Pleasant Hills and Johnstown, died after a heart attack Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010, in Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital in Sewickley. She was 66.
To help manage the number of cats running wild, Mrs. Stager would go into woods to trap wild cats that were considered unmanageable and take them to a veterinarian to have them neutered before returning them to the wild, her husband said.
“Sandy always loved animals,” he said. “The word was out that Sandy will take in and care for a cat that has been abandoned or taken from a home where the cat had been abused.”
Mrs. Sager grew up in Johnstown as one of three children of Janet L. Gorman Sell and the late Harry K. Sell, a railroader.
After graduating from Richland High School in 1962, she attended Maryland Medical Secretarial School. She held a number of positions, including medical secretary for an orthodontist; bank teller; and sales at Frederick’s of Hollywood in Century III Mall in West Mifflin.
The Stagers married in 1965. John Stager, a resident of Johnstown, coached her brother’s baseball team.
The couple settled in Pleasant Hills, where their daughters grew up.
“Sandy, who was a wonderful and dutiful mother, involved herself with many of our daughters’ activities, including being a Girl Scout leader and their softball coach,” said her husband, noting they recently moved to Conway to be closer to their granddaughters. “Sandy taught us all about being good to others and showing appreciation to those who are good to us.”
In addition to her husband John, Mrs. Stager is survived by her mother, Janet Sell; daughters Robin L. Stager Horner of Conway and Jodi Cain of Washington, Pa.; granddaughters Lauren E. and Alyson N. Horner, both of Johnstown; and brothers Richard C. and James K. Sell, both of Johnstown.
Her father, Harry Sell, and an infant son, Christopher Stager, preceded her in death.
A celebration of Mrs. Stager’s life will take place at 2 p.m. today until the time of funeral services at 7:30 p.m. in John Syka Funeral Home, 833 Kennedy Drive, Ambridge.