Sandra Connelly was born in Saskatchewan, Canada and moved to Vancouver when she was eight years old. She went to nursing school at St. Paul’s in Vancouver. She came to Anchorage, Alaska in 1951 to work at a hospital run by the Sisters of Providence. Sandra met her husband, Hugh Connelly, in December 1951 on a blind date with two other people. They married in 1952 and moved to Fairbanks where they had five daughters.