Beloved Morse College administrator Sandi Hebert died suddenly on Sunday, Head of Morse College Catherine Panter-Brick announced in an email to the Morse community. The death of Sandra Petrelle Hebert, age 76, came as a shock to her family.
Just outside the entrance to the head of college house lies a pot of flowers dedicated to Hebert — a symbol of the kindness she showered on the Morse community during her 35-year tenure at the college that ended with her retirement in January.
As senior administrative assistant to the dean, Hebert was “a force to be reckoned with,” said long-time friend and fellow Morse administrator Mary Powers, who is also a senior administrative assistant at the residential college. From answering questions about academic requirements to handling requests for recommendation forms, Hebert was instrumental in the graduation of every Morse student for more than three decades.
According to Powers, Hebert was a founding member of Local 34, Yale’s clerical union. Before she began her role at Morse, Hebert served as an administrative assistant in Grace Hopper College. But after a new dean decided to hire his own staff, a decision that cost Hebert her job, she joined the Local 34 movement to secure her position and those of her fellow workers at Yale, Powers said.
Meticulous in her record keeping, Hebert was dubbed the “history keeper” of the college for her vast institutional knowledge of Morse. She had an uncanny memory of the intricacies and blueprints of Durfee Hall and the Morse facilities. Just mention Durfee C31, and Hebert could immediately recall that the room has a walk-through common room without even needing to whip out a map, Powers said.
After Hebert retired, Panter-Brick nominated her to become an associate fellow at Morse in recognition of her tireless devotion to the college.
But Hebert was much more than an adept administrator. Above all, she loved and was cherished by the Morse community.
For many students that passed by the Lipstick statue every day, Hebert’s smiling face in the head of college’s office was a sign they were home.
“In my mind, Sandi was kind of the ultimate Morsel — she’d been a part of the community for 35 years and seen so much change within it, “said Kevin Sullivan ’18, a chief aide in Morse. “She’s served as a sort of constant in Morse, someone to tie together decades of students, administrators and college traditions.”
Sullivan was working the morning shift in the Morse office on Monday when he heard about Hebert’s passing. The news was all the more shocking, as Hebert had visited the college just the previous week. Monday was a somber day for the entire Morse community, Sullivan said.
“I will always remember how she would ask about students’ days and other small gestures that I’m sure would brighten the lives of those around her,” said Jonathan Ng ’18. “Sandi Hebert was a devoted member of the Morse community who cared deeply for our college just as much as we did for her.”
Despite Hebert’s retirement, Powers often found herself saying, “I gotta call Sandi,” for guidance from the Morse historian.
In the months after she retired, Hebert spent her days attending grandchildren’s football games and singing recitals. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, John, her sons Marc and Paul and her daughter Amy Vere, as well as five grandchildren.
Friends and family of Hebert are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Barnabas Church this Thursday. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Hebert’s loved ones are also welcome to visiting hours at North Haven Funeral Home. Memorial contributions can be made to The Animal Haven, a no-kill animal shelter in North Haven.
Hailey Fuchs | firstname.lastname@example.org