Sandra Griswold

Remembering Sandra Smith Griswold (1938-2021)

Born in Seattle, Washington, to Naval Officer William A. Smith and his wife Geraldine, Sandra was quickly followed by brother Craig and sister Suzi. Their father was transferred to Hawaii in 1943, and the young family soon followed.

Completely unaware of the dangers in their adult world, the children had wonderful adventures playing, swimming, and exploring the island that was their young home.

At the close of hostilities, they moved to Carmel, California. Their father purchased Kips Market, and their mother was very involved in the politics of Carmel. All the children attended local schools and graduated from Carmel High School. This was an experience that Sandra would draw upon fondly as she made friendships lasting her whole lifetime.

In the day, it was not usual to go on the “world tour” upon graduation. Generally Europe. She wound up in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where she studied art, and later in London, she would be introduced to the retail business.

Sandra Griswold

Fashion was always one of her great passions. Upon returning to California, she settled in San Francisco and attended the San Francisco Art Institute. After finishing school, she went to work at I. Magnin and then Joseph Magnin.

The sixties were exciting times in retail.  Boston Architect Ben Thompson started a company that would change retailing! It was called Design Research and was better known as D/R. He asked Sandra to come and work with him. The San Francisco store was located at  Ghirardelli Square. Her office was in the iconic Clock Tower. Many of her employees became lifelong friends. At that point, she was hired away by another visionary, Chuck Williams, founder of Williams Sonoma. The two hit it off and became great friends.  Sandra was tasked with starting to grow their catalog business, then a new concept, for retail.

Sandra always had a great love of cooking and the tools that cooks use. She decided that she needed a new challenge and thought food styling for advertising was just the right thing.  Through mutual friends, she was introduced to Allan Rosenberg, a photographer who wanted to move away from fashion photography to food and wine. After all, in an area like Northern California, including Napa and Sonoma, it made good business sense. They began to collaborate in the late seventies, opening their studio with Tim Sullivan in 1980 at 963 North Point, ironically, just across the street from the Clock Tower at Ghirardelli. They continued working together for the rest of their careers.

Creating images for such companies as Del Monte, Dole, E&J Gallo, Heineken, Coors, Round Table, Safeway as well as Williams Sonoma’s Kitchen Library series, Sandra not only did print, but worked with directors to create food and wine advertising for television. In between all of this, she indulged her love of architecture and interior design by starting Sandra Griswold Interiors.  She proved ever a source of new and innovative ways to look at space and create many interesting and livable, unique homes up and down the State.

Sandra Griswold

Sandra loved challenges and through a past relationship, she became interested in vintage car racing. Allan encouraged her to become a motorsport journalist. She, of course, was a natural.  She knew everyone and at once was picked up by Rewind Magazine and Vintage Motorsport, as well as others.  Her point of view was a refreshing change.

After more than four decades of friendship Sandra and Allan became domestic partners.

Sandra died at home with Allan close by on the 19th of May, 2021.  She was born on the 13th of November, 1938. 

Sandra Griswold
Show Comments (4)

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  1. It was moving to read the obituary of my first wife. We shared so many wonderful times together. When I became a Ferrari Dealer I made my company car a Giallo Fly Daytona. I loaned the car to her for days at a time. She loved it especially driving in tunnels so she could listen to the wonderful exhaust note. Her first car was an Alfa Giulietta Sprint Veloce that I enlarged to 1400 cc. She loved her Alfa. There are so many wonderful memories. She was such an important part of my life. Good bye and thank you for the wonderful years.

  2. The handful of conversations I had with Sandra left me to realize that she had a sense of wit and observation that were far above average. “Astute” might be more accurate. A classy lady with a pretty smile, she will be missed.

  3. Sandra and I had glorious times together talking about past sports car racing, her marriage and working relationship with Stephen Griswold, her keeping of the Griswold photographs archive, and her own excellent portfoilio of motorsport journalism that she brought to readers with captivating energy and style. Her sharp investigative eye and keen way with the written word were gifts to us all, and so thoroughly they, and she, will be missed. Seldom have I ever seen such enthusiam for an occupation as Sandra’s. It stands as a lesson for all who think they can observe, write about, and convey the sense of motor-racing in its truest form. My heart goes out to Stephen and all others for their loss.

  4. To further comment on Sandra’s passing, we need all to thank Sports Car Digest for its comprehenive review of her amazing and multi-talented life. For especially Stephen and for Allan, but also for all who knew Sandra, I am right in saying we are very lucky to have known her.