Sandy Walker was a long time Tong Ren therapist, healer, and dear friend. She and her husband Barney, along with many other friends, brought Tong Ren to Chicago. There, she generously spent her time and devoted many years to healing those in need while hosting weekly Tong Ren tapping sessions in person and through phone conferences.
Sandy passed away on September 8, 2016 in her home in Naperville, Illinois. Sandy will be sorely missed and there will be a hole in our hearts. In memory of Sandy and all the work she's done, we are having a fundraiser to buy a bench in her name. We are placing the bench outside our Quincy office, where Tong Ren friends and wary travelers can gather to share news and stories, memories and hopes.
Sandy will be forever in our hearts.
Obituary: Sandra R. Walker, (nee Polkow), 68, a Tong Ren therapist and operatic soprano, died suddenly in her sleep on Sept. 8 in her Naperville home. The daughter of late frozen food pioneer Marvin R. Polkow and late nurse Elaine M. Polkow, Ms. Walker was born on Dec. 17, 1947 in Oak Park and grew up in Elmhurst. In her early years, Walker was a vocal prodigy singing leads in musicals and won a scholarship to study voice with legendary operatic baritone Tito Gobbi in Italy. She received a vocal performance degree from NIU and did her graduate work at the Manhattan School of Music, performing operatic roles in New York before returning to Italy. During her performance time in Chicago, Ms. Walker was prima donna of Repertory Opera Theatre in Oak Park where she performed leading roles in operas of Purcell, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Holst, Poulenc and Menotti, among others. She also sang the title role for the world premiere of Raymond Wilding-White's three-act opera "Yerma," based on the Federico Garcia Lorca play. Ms. Walker was also a regular performer of the Wagner Society of America, the Spoleto Festival and the Aspen Music Festival. Ms. Walker possessed a large voice, unusual for a lyric soprano, which made her a natural to perform tragic Puccini heroines, her specialty. She is featured in the title role on the Chicago Music Association's 1975 recording of
"Madama Butterfly" and sang "Un bel di" on the Italian RAI television network with the NATO band. After retiring from the stage to raise a family, Ms. Walker continued to sing across naval bases in Europe and the United States as a soloist with her husband, Navy band leader, pianist and composer Barney Walker. The couple moved back to the Chicago area in 1998 when Ms. Walker created and directed the St. Joan of Arc parish children's choir in Lisle and taught voice students at home. Sacred music was a lifelong love for Ms. Walker, a devout Roman Catholic. She was proud to be the first woman ever asked to cantor at her home parish after Vatican II and most recently had served as a cantor and chorister at St. Irene's Church in Warrenville. Of all of her international performances, Ms. Walker was most proud to have sung Schubert's "Ave Maria" at the convent and in the presence of Sr. Lucia, visionary of Our Lady of Fatima.
After successfully seeking relief from fibromyalgia from Tong Ren Therapy founder Tom Tam, Ms. Walker became a Tong Ren therapist and made a mission of offering healing and hope to others through Chi Gong. She hosted a weekly televised Tong Ren therapy session that was an inspiration to many.
Ms. Walker is survived by her husband of over 39 years, Barney, sons Rob (Erin) and Doug (Robin); sisters Judy and Bonnie (Jim); brothers Gary (Paula) and Dennis; niece Jen (Mike); nephews Dave (Katie), Eric (Bailey) and Alex; great-nieces Annie and Molly and great-nephews Jack, Ryne and Finn. Visitation 3-9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 Blake-Lamb Funeral Home, 5015 Lincoln Ave. (Rt. 53), Lisle. Mass 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 St. Irene's Catholic Church, 28W441 Warrenville Rd., Warrenville. In lieu of flowers, contributions to One Step Programs for Kids with Cancer are appreciated.