Harriet E. (Sedgwick) Sands was born on March 6, 1906, in Waterloo, Blackhawk County, Iowa, to James Elliott and Carrie Amanda (Cobb) Sedgwick.  She attended West Waterloo High School and was a graduate of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Greene County, Ohio, and of Iowa State College (June 1928) in Ames, Story County, Iowa.  In the year 1926 she was initiated into Chapter Z of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization dedicated to the advancement of education for young women, in Waterloo.

A dietician by profession, Harriet worked for a time (in 1930 for certain) at Mills College in Oakland, Alameda County, California, following her graduation.  She went on to work as a dietician in Muskogee, Muskogee County, Oklahoma.  There she met and married a construction worker named Irving Hendrix Sands (b. August 23, 1896, in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri).  Irving had served in the army as a corporal in World War I and was a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  The wedding took place on August 7, 1943, in Muskogee.  The couple moved to Jackson, Jackson County, Mississippi, where Harriet worked as chief dietician at the Veterans Administration Hospital.  Irving continued to work in construction.  He died on November 8, 1949, and was buried in Mediapolis, Iowa.

After her husband’s death, Harriet moved to Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona, and became a dietician at the Veterans’ Hospital at Fort Whipple (1950).  She resided at 215 Yavapai Drive.  Harriet was also an active participant in community organizations.  She was a member of the Trinity Presbyterian Church and was elected President of the Prescott Toastmistresses Club in June 1951.  She also became a charter member of Chapter BG of P.E.O., to which she transferred in November 1966. 

After her retirement from the Veterans’ Administration in 1951—she had served for twenty-two years at various Veterans’ hospitals—Harriet acquired a greenhouse (1954), in which she grew mostly African Violets.  She referred to it as a “hobby-business.”  In an interview with the Arizona Republic (September 29, 1968), Harriet reported that she had had as many as 600 different varieties of African Violets, although at that time she had only about 300.  She also branched out into other Gesneriads:  gloxinias, espiscias, and streptocarpus.  She belonged to the Prescott and Alta Vista Garden clubs and the Arizona Violet Club.  In her later years, she ran Harriet Sands’ African Violet Nursery at 925 West Yavapai Drive in Prescott.  According to members of the Alta Vista Garden Club, “her soft voice, ever-ready smile, and willingness to be of assistance at all times are characteristics remembered of her.”

Harriet died on May 30, 1979.  Her body was cremated and the ashes were interred at Mountain View Cemetery in Prescott.

Donor:  Alta Vista Garden Club, 1979
Photo Located:  Alta Vista Garden Club Collection, MS-36, Box 1, F-3
Updated:  9/29/2017, Tom Collins