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StoryCorps in Kalamazoo: Finding love, support and home

Sandy Borden and Kathy Purnell
StoryCorps Mobile Tour
Sandy Borden and Kathy Purnell

The conversation was recorded during the StoryCorps Mobile Tour stop in Kalamazoo.

Sandy Borden discovered how loved she was as a girl in Argentina after an accident left her unable to walk for two and a half months. Years later she would find her home in Kalamazoo when friends provided support when it was needed.

Borden told her friend and Western Michigan University colleague Kathy Purnell that she born in Argentina, but moved to the United States when she was very young. The family lived on Long Island for a while.

“Presumably because of Watergate (laughs) my dad decided to pull up roots and move back to Argentina when I was eight.”

Borden’s first language is English, but she learned Spanish when the family moved back to Argentina, where her mother was originally from. Borden said in Argentina she had a large extended family.

“We just kind of did everything together,” she said. “It was a very close family relationship, and there’s something that’s always stayed with me, and I’m still very close to my family in Argentina.”

Borden said she was run over when she was 10. “That was the first time I saw my dad cry.”

But Borden said one pesky cousin “spent every day with me” as she recovered. She said classmates brought homework. "It just taught me I was loved in a really dramatic way.”

Returning as a teenager and later as an adult, Borden moved around the United States. She met her husband in Missouri, and ended up in Kalamazoo to take a communication ethics job at Western Michigan University.

Borden said she took to Kalamazoo and WMU fairly quickly. “I will say probably what sealed the deal was my experience with my difficult pregnancy where again my colleagues and my faith community just came out the woodwork and surrounded us with help.”

“I just thought ‘this is it, this place has become truly home’.”

Jack began working at WMUK as a WMU music student in 1973. He was a member of the United States Army Field Band, Washington, DC from 1974 - 1977, and returned to WMUK as a producer/announcer in 1978. Jack was an announcer and programmer for WITF-TV/FM in Harrisburg, PA from 1983-1984. In 1984 he became Music Director of WWFM /WWNJ, The Classical Network, in Trenton, New Jersey. Jack returned to WMUK in 1999.
Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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