Alice Sankey wrote one of the most pleasant and accessible books about Racine history called Racine The Belle City in 1958. Although her intended audience was school children in Racine, it is a great jumping off place for people looking for Racine history projects. Alice wrote over 200 children’s books in her lifetime.
Alice lived a very interesting life. From her May 13, 2004 obituary:
Sankey got a job at the Racine Journal Times in 1943. It was her first job out of high school, son Tom Sankey said. The editor hired her because she was bright and hadn’t gone to college (he liked to train his own people), Tom Sankey said.
It was there that Sankey met her husband.
When her husband was hospitalized with tuberculosis, Sankey started writing short stories and children’s books on the side, to earn extra money to keep their house, Tom Sankey said.
Sankey kept on writing. She wrote prolifically.
“I think that her agent said at one time there were 112 titles,” Tom Sankey said.
“She was always imaginative. Until the last few years, she was still working – writing stuff, writing short stories,” Tom Sankey said. “She had a wonderful sense of humor. She was always the cheerful person.”
While at the Journal Times, Sankey worked as a reporter, a copy editor and women’s editor. The last few years before she retired, she wrote a column, “People Watching.”
Sankey always loved to travel, her family said. When she retired from the Journal Times in 1974, she took a cruise around the world, Tom Sankey said.
“She was always eager. She wanted some more stimulation. And when she got somewhere, she started thinking about where was gonna go next,” Tom Sankey said. “Used to tell us she was always so happy to get home from a trip, but we didn’t believe her.”
Sankey’s last big trip was for her 90th birthday. Her children all chipped in to buy her a gift certificate to a travel agent, and she used it for a bus tour of the western United States.
Joyce Dahlberg, Sankey’s sister-in-law, last saw her last summer, when Sankey returned to Racine for her brother-in-law’s 90th birthday.
“She loved life, and she was a very valiant woman with a lot of courage, even through her old age,” Dahlberg said. “Being 94 when she died, there had been years when things didn’t go too well. Her sight was failing, walking was difficult, there was memory loss, but she still kept a sense of humor. She sparkled.”
Family and friends will gather in the Lodge Room at the Yardarm, 930 Erie St., from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday to celebrate Sankey’s life.