How one woman shows us that our lives do not end

by Stephen Sachs

Lois Tandy may have been in her nineties, but she could be shrewd and mischievous. In the many years I knew her, and Lois was a Fountain friend and supporter for over a decade, every encounter was a delightful mix of droll repartee and honest affection. We enjoyed each other’s company.      

Lois passed away one year ago this month, on December 4, 2021. Not long after, I was moved to learn that she had bequeathed some money from her estate to the Fountain Theatre. I had no idea she had arranged to make this gift. But I was not surprised.

By Los Angeles standards, Lois was not supremely wealthy. She lived alone in a modest three-bedroom house at the end of a street in Alta Dena. She dressed simply, wore little jewelry, and even less makeup. She had money in the bank, a comfortable sum. The marvelous thing about Lois was that she didn’t wait until the end of her life to give it away. She gave while she was living. She donated her time and her money to many.         

She volunteered everywhere and showed up for everything, particularly if it had to do with politics, human rights, animals, the environment, or the arts. Lois was a docent at the Huntington Library and gave tours of its sumptuous gardens. She often volunteered at the Gene Autry Museum. She gave her money to the World Wildlife Fund and the Audubon Society. To Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. To the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the L.A. Chamber Orchestra. And to the Fountain Theatre.

None of us like to think about the end of our lives. I sure don’t. But the older I get, the more I’m reminded. I’m now getting marketing postcards from Pierce Brothers Mortuary and Forest Lawn. My wife and I have made our will and laid out our financial planning. As John Lennon sang, “you don’t take nothing with you but your soul.” But I think maybe you don’t even take that. I think your soul stays behind, too. In the people you love, the causes you help, and the lives you change. I believe there’s some measure of Lois’ soul in every play she supported at the Fountain, in the heart of each student in the arts education programs she helped fund. To me, that’s a legacy. That is immortality. Maybe, the kind we only get.

Stephen Sachs is the Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.

For information on how you can leave a bequest to The Fountain, please contact our development department at 323-663-1525 X 307.

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