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Sandi Rivka Levy

May 13, 1938–April 9, 2021

Sandi Rivka left us due to the natural cause of being nearly 83, though 70 years of smoking may have played a part. She has been known by many names: born Levy, the family soon changed its surname to Warren. Her first husband gave her the name Hayes, as well as a son and a daughter. When her last name was Beam, she graduated from the University of Maryland as a speech pathologist. In Utah, as Sandi Davidson, with a master’s degree she became a social worker. With the name Barbero, she became more involved in civil rights movements. Ultimately, she went by the Hebrew “Rivka,” and returned to her birth surname, keeping it when marrying her final love, Stan Penrod, who pulled her from the grief of her husband Ricardo’s passing—and vice versa.

An Interested Life

Sandi/Rivka’s no-nonsense wit and sharp intelligence were her hallmarks. When young, she was a fashion model, and later a hostess on one of TV’s early talk programs, The Tom Duggan Show. She was a scuba diver, a flight attendant, and took out charters on a houseboat in Maryland. Later, she tried her hand at journalism, a PTSD counselor in Israel, as an expert witness in the courtroom, teaching ESL and as a private detective. Rivka had a creative side. In addition to being an accomplished pianist, she pursued crafts like jewelry-making and loved to write.

Problem Child

A small detour, here. As a teen, Sandi was deemed incorrigible, and sent to Chadwick, a boarding school. Mrs. Chadwick wrote in a letter to her parents, “Sandi is developing worldly knowledge of the cheaper sort.” She roomed with Christina Crawford, and had a torrid romance with a dude named Melo.

The Marrying Kind

Marriage: keep doing it until you get it right. Six marriages, five men, four divorces, two widowings. The math is tricky. The slide show below starts with Stan, but after that it’s chronological. Larry Hayes, Tom Beam, Paul Davidson, Ricardo Barbero and Stan Penrod all shared a portion of their lives with us.


Rivka is the last of her childhood family, losing her parents, Jack and Sylva, and her little brothers, Roger and Jerry. She is survived by her husband Stan, son Jim (Sylvia), daughter Kelly (Adam), grandchildren Sahara (Landon), Marina, Jackie and Sadie, and everybody else on earth that is enjoying this beautiful springtime.

Memorial Gathering

Huge gratitude goes out to the always-tender staff of Capitol Hill Senior Center, as well as Rivka’s medical and hospice teams.

An outdoor memorial open house will be held on Friday, May 14 (the day after her 83rd birthday), from 6–9pm.
The address is 2915 S. Filmore St. in Salt Lake City.
Per CDC guidelines for outdoor events, masks are not required for vaccinated guests.
We’ll share stories starting at 7:00. There will be refreshments.

Bring your memories!

Attend Virtually

We’ll share stories starting at 7:00pm Mountain Daylight Time. Bring your memories!

Join with Zoom
Meeting ID: 816 8829 2394
Passcode: 331038

Join by phone


  1. Jim,
    What a beautiful tribute! What a remarkable life. Sending love to you and the family.
    I am sorry we won’t be able to attend her memorial.

  2. WOW that is a very interesting life ! I only knew Sandy when I was young and she was married to my Uncle Larry. They were a lot of fun and knew how to party. I remember going to dinner at their home and Sandy had made green mashed potatoes. She had learned that food should be colorful on the plate hence the potatoes. I babysat for Jamie and Kelly but never saw them again. Last time I saw Kelly she was just a baby. So Sorry for your Loss . It sounds like she had a good time while here and continued to learn and grow along the way. I hope we will get to meet up in the future…A Hayes reunion. Blessings Donelle Hayes Kemmer

  3. The first time I met her she was working the gates at the Pride Festival. We had hugs and laughs. This beautiful soul will be missed by many. RIP 😢

    • Yes, she did love volunteering, until she couldn’t anymore.

  4. What a beautiful memorial! My condolences to you Jim and Sylvia, and all family and friends, on the passing of this lovely “sparkly” lady/mom.

  5. Baruch dayan ha’emet. May your memories be a comfort during this time of grief.

  6. I knew her and know that she will be greatly missed; I am so sorry for your special loss.

  7. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. This is beautiful work, Jim. Thank you so much for sharing your mother’s story. She really LIVED life. I hope to see you on the 14th

  8. Sorry for your loss, Jim. It was years before I realized Rivka was your mom, and now looking at pictures I wonder how I could not have known. Your daughters especially favor her! ❤

  9. Sorry for your loss Jim, Barry and I are thinking about you.

  10. I just read her bio-wow what a powerhouse! Condolences to all of you.

  11. Oh dear! May she rest in peace Sending my deepest condolences during this difficult time.

  12. Mourner’s Kaddish
    But: May her great name grow up and be sanctified. [Audience: Artist]
    Baalma Dee created her and will reign in her life and in the day of the day and in the life of the whole house israel in the round and in the time of Kriv, and they said Amen: [Audience: Amen
    Crowd and mourning: May her great name bless the people and the people of Alamia:
    Mourning: He will be blessed and praised and glorified and exalted and condescended and transcended and glorified by her name. Blessing is. [Crowd: Brich is 🙂
    To all the blessing in the th of the th of the th of the th of the th of the th of the th of the And they said Amen: [Audience: Amen]
    May God bless us and live on us and all israel And they said Amen: [Audience: Amen]
    Makes peace in the good deeds: Peace in its highness will make peace upon us and all israel and say Amen: [Audience: Amen]
    The Mourners Kaddish in Aramaic
    G-d Bless & Keep Your Memories for generations to know your uniqueness, zest for life, laughter, intelligence, stories, and beauty✡️


  13. Such a dear lady, she took me out to dinner for my #birthdaydinner here. We always laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. She was one of the few people who believed in me and was always there for me. I love you, RIP my sweet. Tia❤❤❤

  14. I appreciate her for sharing a part of her life with me! I am forever grateful for her accepting me into her life and wish we could have spent more time getting to know each other. Will always hold close to my heart what she shared with me. Forever grateful, and I appreciate her. Love, Heather ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

  15. Thank you Rivka for all you have given and shared with Heather and myself. With full acceptance as your sister and Heather as your niece, because of Jerry, our lives became enter twined for life has many twists and turns little did we know, we again one day would get to know of your love for us💕
    Thankful for your love, acceptance, kindness, generosity of spirit, and multiple blessings filled with respect, and to renew our Jewish heritage. We give to you many hugs, love and blessings in return, forever grateful and thankful you were in our lives and always will be for generations to come❣️ This wing you have inherited includes Heather (your niece), Heather’s two daughters Anastacia and Chenoa, with our new addition Kyren – our first male in this line for five generations of females. This line of heritage will always be connected to you with Jerry’s acknowledgment, Heather your niece, her daughters (my granddaughters) Heather’s grand son ( my great grandson), are forever as one to live on after we’re gone to see our heavenly host❣️
    G-d Speed Rivka we will meet again. Love 💗 your sister (Your reference for me):
    Kathleen and Heather Sterling, Anastacia, Chenoa and our adorable, precious, sweet son Kyren❣️

  16. May we all enjoy worldly knowledge of the cheaper sort. She was an extraordinary person. I knew Jim’s words would bring her to life. Thank you for that. Sending love

    • Amen, Christy!

    • Get that pricey knowledge outta here.

  17. She looks like Sophia Loren with a little bit of Audrey Hepburn. Beautiful! So sorry for your loss

  18. Ahhhh Rivka was happy 😊. We volunteered together ❤ at Utah’s Intellectual Disabilities Assoc. 👏 good 👍people!

  19. RIP — May her memory be a blessing, Jim and Sylvia.

  20. I am deeply and sincerely saddened and will miss her positive outlook. She lives in our memories

  21. What a beautiful woman and fantastic obituary! I wouldn’t expect anything less with a son like Jim:) I’m so sorry for your loss!

  22. Jim, I’m not surprised your mom was a movie star. Love to you in your loss.

  23. This is really nicely done! Wow! What a great synopsis, cleverly witty and sweet!

  24. Oh dear! May she rest in peace Sending my deepest condolences during this difficult time.

  25. Oh my goodness – what a gorgeous, wild, live-life-on-her-own-terms woman!!
    And, what a creative, authentic and funny tribute!!
    Much love to you.

  26. What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable woman and life! Her intelligence and beauty have been passed on to you and your girls. I wish I could attend the service.

  27. I had the pleasure of knowing Rivka and spending time with her over several years before the pandemic. We would go to lunch and share laughter and memories. I will miss her.

  28. Anyone reading this can see how good Jim was to Rivka. She and I were loving friends for the last 15+ years. What a beautiful and vibrant woman. So witty, so engaged with the world…she brought her rich past to our conversations. I was so thrilled when she and Stan found each other, and became for many of us a miracle of late-in-life romance, a sign that a new future is always possible. She adored Stan and he was very good to her. I loved her and miss her.

  29. Thank you my brother, for this beautiful tribute. I am sorry for the loss, to everyone who loved our mom. Here is my addition to this:

    My mom, Sandi Rivka Levy, just left this mortal world. She passed incredibly peacefully, squeezing the hand of her belov
    ed, incredibly wonderful husband Stan and being enveloped in love by her family (Stan, Jim and Sylvia). I am so fortunate that I got to spend many beautiful last days with her, where we cuddled on the bed, told each other “I love you”, held each other, sang all her favorite songs to her, from the 1940’s – 1970’s, showed her her favorite old photos, I slipped her some amazing chocolate and surprisingly, joked a lot (sense of humor to the end!) with her. She told me she was sparkling as she was transitioning, which she always has.

    She was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1938, where her beloved daddy Jack, was the doctor (and in the Navy, later becoming Captain and moving to San Diego, where she would grow up) and her mom, Sylva, was the school teacher.
    Sandi was a larger than life person. Big personality, emotion, love, energy, determination! Original Girl Power. Queen of the adjective. Master of vocabulary. A lover of writing. A Women’s Libber in the 70’s, Farm Workers advocate, Civil Rights marcher… and remained active in those kind of causes for her whole life. She would make sure to expose me to friends of color during my childhood, making the effort to branch out of our white suburban neighborhood. She actively taught me about racism in the 1960’s and spoke about it constantly. She lived her devotion to equality.

    She was a member of the prestigious Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, taking classes and performing in plays from 12 years old, also at Chadwick School and Whittier College (head cheerleader) and on throughout my childhood, getting me to join her in community theatre. She was an early actress in TV in Los Angeles. She was also on the Tom Duggan show as his sidekick for his TV talkshow. She was the smart aleck girl who caught shit for wearing pants and having an opinion, for a living. At the same time, she was a model as well, while having two tiny kids at home and being newly single from my estranged dad, Larry Hayes.

    Soon, she re-married and we all moved to Maryland, where she completed her first college degree in Speech-Pathology and Audiology (she saw her child clients in our house). She went on later to get her Master’s in Social Work, teaching credentials, MFCC and all the while, working in Spanish, much of the time, with her therapy clients, who included a Women’s Prison and families.

    We had her piano playing and singing in the house all the time. She was an accomplished pianist and the life of the party. She studied as a child with master teachers and the skills never left. Music was always joyful for us.
    We spent countless hours on the Chesepeake Bay, boating from island to island, crabbing, clam digging, singing and just being in nature. Her zest for life was utterly infectious. I would say that is the defining thing for me. Her enthusiasm, no limits, no rules, not giving a shit what anyone else thought and just squeezing every single bit out of each moment, possible. That wasn’t always safe…but it was never boring! Joy, drama and excitement- she felt everything in a big way.
    We all moved to Utah and got more nature. We moved on a mountain side, bought a Jeep and four-wheel drove all over, to remote places to camp (I never saw an official camping site until my 20’s) Everything was impromptu. Kind of the credo. It made me (and probably my brother Jim, as well), feel capable and invincible. All the while in those early years, there was a lot of warmth and love. We traveled and always stayed with families and ate the food of the region. Lots of crafts and always, art museums- everywhere we went. When I wanted to be a drummer, as a little 10 year old girl, she got me a vintage drum set and lessons. We went to the dump’s special room to buy many cool vintage things for our house and fixed them up. I never stopped doing that.

    When my mom got pissed off at the establishment on your behalf, you kind of felt badly for the people doing you wrong. You knew they were going to lose. Badly. With her sharp brain and even sharper tongue and determination, policy was GOING to change. And it did. Then she’d flash her beautiful smile, thank them and they’d feel honored. Talent.
    She dove into things. And drove into things! (Our road trips were very cool as well, where I got to drive, as a kid.) She studied and loved the Mayan culture, so we moved to the Yukatán for 3 months, one summer, to live in a bare house on the beach in a remote fishing village. It was the 60’s. We only had hammocks and a table, had our ice delivered for refrigeration and not a single person spoke English.We ate fish head soup and sea turtle that we caught (yucky.) It was a glorious summer.
    As a 15 year old, she was the cool mom. Not necessarily always ideal, but she DID drive us to Boulder, Colorado to buy Stones tickets and then back to Colorado again, to see the 1978 Some Girls concert. Pretty cool.
    As a girl, we loved going into fancy real estate open houses. We just liked it as an activity, so we would pretend we were thinking of buying and giggle the whole time.

    A marriage ended, a new one began with a lovely man, but it ended shortly. It wasn’t the right match. Then a few years later, she met Ricardo Barbero, whom she stayed married to until he passed. It was a long marriage, he was a rocket scientist and activist. She was a professional writer, writing grants and also doing therapy with clients in their community.
    She ended her life with her husband Stan, who is the sweetest man ever. He gave her love, intelligence, openness, is totally nonjudgmental (with of us all) and humor- and I’m sure a whole host of beautiful stuff I know nothing about. But I saw the love and giggles between them and I’m grateful. I think she was probably at her most calm and happy.

    My mom was a complicated person. For me, life with her was often so incredibly beautiful, where I absolutely knew I was loved and cherished by her and sometimes it was absolutely fraught with too much intense drama to handle. She had to overcome so much from her own childhood and she made great, monumental strides. But even with the big gaps we had in between our years together, we would always pick up and move forward, like nothing had happened, when we would reunite. We loved each other deeply and also, she missed out on huge swaths of my life, which makes me feel a different, not as known, sense of deep loss. But we always laughed at the absurdities of life when we came together or talked on the phone. Her wit and charm were truly epic. I will ache for those hugs (and penetrating eyes gazing at me) and am so glad I got some again, in her last week of life. I’m also glad I got to thank her and let her know how much I love her.
    She let me know how proud she felt of Jackie and Sadie and how much she loved Adam, every time we spoke in the last few years.

    I am grateful for learning from Mom: To advocate for people. For a sense of adventure. For speaking up. For deeply caring about others. For learning that sometimes you need to fight. For her cuddliness and songs at bedtime. For her love of all things beautiful, that I appreciate too; flowers, nature, music, rivers and lakes, mountains, dogs, decor, fashion. For her intense love of reading and learning and it never waning. For diving into things, knowing you’ll make it work, somehow (worry later!) . For an utter lack of fear in life. I am deeply grateful to this flawed and staggeringly beautiful soul.

    This isn’t the last of us.

    Thank you, Mom.

  30. Kelly, your tribute above has me weeping. You obviously have the writing gift as well! Wishing we could all be together in person, and appreciating all of you individually. Enjoying all the comments here, I have been trying to process my feelings about her as a sister-in-law, as my late husband Jerry’s wife. We only saw her a few times during our marriage, but I had a deep connection with her as well, like a big sister, and like a volunteer therapist who entered our family and tried to be as helpful to us as possible with whatever we were going through at the time. She admired me, and I admired her, and we enjoyed deep conversations. In later years we became friends on Facebook and she encouraged me with my nature photography, and said it brought us closer as if we we going on adventures together. It got me in the habit of looking for beauty to share with older ones who were not able to get out and enjoy the natural world, especially this past year of quarantine. I will always remember her when I am out walking and taking photos of wildflowers, the beach, or whatever strikes me as beautiful.
    I look forward in faith to seeing her live again as promised in the Hebrew scriptures. Daniel was promised by God that he would rest, in the grave, then stand up “at the end of the days”. (Daniel12:13) The Greek word for resurrection means “raising up; standing up” (anastasis). The famous, righteous man Job spoke of the resurrection he believed would happen, at Job 14:13-15, with confidence that he would not be left in a cold grave forever, but that in God’s warm memory, he would stay safe until that day when he would be called back to life, with God “yearning” to see him again. Isaiah, a Hebrew prophet, also spoke of the resurrection at Isaiah 26:19: “Your dead will live. My corpses will rise up. Awake and shout joyfully, You residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of the morning, And the earth will let those powerless in death come to life.” Isaiah 25:8 promises: “He will swallow up death forever, And the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces.” Looking forward to seeing her bright and beautiful face at that time!

  31. She was a Nice person, always with good attitude. Remember her with love.

  32. I never met Rivka face to face, but we clicked on Facebook as we both loved Israel. We developed a beautiful friendship throughout the years, shared recipes, a bit of history and even jokes. It was always fun to chat with her – and later on with Stan as well. When they got married, I felt as if a couple of great friends were tying the knot. I was very happy for them. I will miss you Rivka… May you rest in peace and may we meet again, my friend!


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