Constance Grebe Sanders, 88

Constance Helen Grebe Sanders of Southbury, Conn., a former Wilton resident for 24 years, died of a stroke on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Danbury Hospital. She was 88 and the wife of Robert A. Sanders, who pre-deceased her in 2011. They had been married for 59 years.

Born in New York City in 1926 to Ethel and George Grebe, Mrs. Sanders grew up in Queens, N.Y. and was a graduate of the High School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and a scholarship winner at Parsons School of Design. She worked as an art director at several advertising agencies in Manhattan. She met her husband at an Ad Club dance at the Hotel Pennsylvania in 1947.

The couple wed in 1951, and began their married life in Manhattan. Upon the birth of their daughter Barbara, Mrs. Sanders became a homemaker. They moved to Connecticut in 1958 when their second child, Robert, arrived.

Living in Wilton from 1958 to 1982, Mrs. Sanders was an active member of the Wilton Congregational Church, involved with their Mr. and Mrs. Club, Women’s Fellowship. She also served as chairman of the annual Yankee Fair and designed and supervised the making of the giant 250th anniversary quilted banner that is still the focal point of Pilgrim Hall. While caring for her family and the household menagerie, she fearlessly undertook restoration of the 1739 Betts house and grounds at 530 Danbury Road, stripping acres of paint, hanging miles of wallpaper, and taming the riverside gardens.

But painting was her abiding passion. Mrs. Sanders was an accomplished watercolorist, and her favorite subject was flowers.

“A prolific artist, she showered her family and friends with cards illustrated with her floral studies, accompanied by heartfelt messages of thanks, hope, cheer and love, all in her beautiful script,” her family said. “Her art was a direct reflection of her character — optimistic, energetic, and full of life.”

After moving to Princeton, N.J. for 7 years, Mr. and Mrs. Sanders retired and built their home in Kent, Conn. They moved to the Watermark at East Hill in Southbury in 2007, where Mrs. Sanders taught art classes, and occasionally exhibited her work.

She is survived by her daughter Barbara Sanders of Manhattan; her son Robert Jr., wife Allison and grandson Ian of Wilton; sister-in-law Doris Hoeniger; niece Felicia Hoeniger of Bridgewater; nephew Matthew Hoeniger, his wife Amy and children Luke and Lily of Washington, Conn.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 8 at The United Church of Christ, 283 Main Street North, Southbury, at 1:30 with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Congregational Church of Kent, 97 North Main Street, Kent, CT 06757; The United Church of Christ, Southbury, CT 06488; or to SPCA of Connecticut, 359 Spring Hill Road, Monroe, CT 06468-2100.