Biographical Sketch of Sandra Fontaine Cobble
Born May 23, 1933 in south-central Los Angeles, California, Sandra Fontaine Hebbel at age four lost the grandmother who had thus far raised her, and her father. Placed in the Los Angeles Children's Home at age six, she remained there for about a year. When her mother remarried, the state returned Sandra to her home and to what would turn out to be an abusive and violent family situation.
Though always returning to Los Angeles, the family moved frequently. Usually Sandra was "parked" somewhere as soon as a place could be found to board her. Though she was too young and too bitter to comprehend it at the time, living in such diverse places as Oregon, Illinois, and Wisconsin, attending a diversity of schools, and living with various families too numerous to even count, gave Sandra a comprehension and an appreciation of the diversity of cultures and ideas among mankind.
Maintaining average or above grades through the eighth grade, Sandra experienced a traumatic event between the eighth and ninth grades and barely passed ninth grade. Upon entering tenth grade, she had gotten control of her emotions and was determined to pursue an academic course. "It would be a waste of money to educate you," the high school counselor told her, "You will just end up washing dishes somewhere." "Washing dishes" in Los Angeles meant she would end up on skid row.
Against all admonition, Sandra insisted on an academic course that would prepare her for college, though she had no idea how she would be able to afford it. She failed.
Dropping out of school, she moved to Oregon where she worked at menial jobs and farm labor. In 1954 she met and married Cecil T. Cobble, the grandson of a Separate Baptist preacher. An agnostic herself, she observed her husband's actions and began to believe there might be a God, but that Jesus was the Son of God? No, that was only another myth. In 1958 Sandra was converted to Christianity, and her husband began to preach.
As a traveling evangelist, her husband preached in almost every state. Unwilling to be shackled by the limitations of any denomination, her husband preached anywhere there was a door opened. To support themselves, they worked at any job available.
In 1966, they moved to Tullahoma, Tennessee, her husband's hometown where he opened up a service station and continued preaching where he could until he became ill at age seventy. Four years later he died, leaving Sandra with only enough insurance to bury him, and with their home.
Within weeks Sandra met T. Pierce Brown, a minister who would become her mentor. Looking through the eyes of his heart, he saw a unique individual created in the image and likeness of his Lord and God and who needed comfort. As he became acquainted with her, he also began to see potential that others had not seen. He encouraged her to get her GED. He baptized her into Christ, and she began to attend the Grundy Street Church of Christ in Tullahoma. Then, after teaching her Greek, he encouraged her to attend the community college. Since she had no transportation, he helped her buy a motor scooter. She graduated with honors and was granted a partial scholarship to David Lipscomb University.
She had three courses to complete that summer. On the way home from registration, a drunken driver hit her motor scooter from behind. The accident severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. While in college she had begun writing and several of her articles had been published in various gospel papers. While undergoing rehabilitation, she completed her courses and continued her writing. Though she was able to return to independent living, the idea of finishing college then seemed almost an impossibility. Among other things, a head injury had left her unable to memorize. She had entered one school by correspondence, but had to drop out because the exams required primarily memorization.
Then her congregation got a new minister, Manly Luscomb, who was himself a student at Covington Theological Seminary. At his suggestion, she applied for admission and was accepted. In 1989 she completed her bachelor's degree, magnum cum laude, and in 1990 her master's, summa cum laude. Attending graduation exercises for both in 1990, she was awarded Covington's Presidential Female Award given for excellence in all areas. In 1992 she earned a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Counseling Degree, summa cum laude. In 1995 she went through graduation exercises for her Doctor of Theology Degree, which was awarded upon acceptance of her thesis. Certainly a long way from just "washing dishes"!
About thirty articles by Sandra were published in several publications, including a series of eight Bible class lessons published in Christian Woman. As a result of her articles, she heard from people in Singapore, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and the Philippines, as well as from many States in America. She was profiled in Christian Woman, and through the years several articles were written about her in local papers. In 1987, she won the "Letter of the Week" award and was a runner-up for "Letter of the Year" award for a letter she sent to the Nashville Banner. She was also the recipient of two letters from the White House, the first from Nancy Reagan, and the second from Hillary and Bill Clinton. She also received a letter of commendation from Richard W. Riley, Secretary of the United States Department of Education.
After being diagnosed with an incurable cancer, she had to move to the Life Care Center at Tullahoma in 2002. In spite of all the burdens she had to bear in life, or maybe because of them, her writings are filled with faith and courage, and radiate encouragement to others.
On April the 20th in 2005, at the age of 72, Sandra went from Tullahoma, Tennessee to be with her loving heavenly father.
Published in The Old Paths Archive