This last Wednesday afternoon, October 16, 2019, my grandfather Pepaw, a loving husband and father passed away unexpectedly at the age of 76. Robert Bailey Sanders, Bob, was about faith, family and country.
He was born on August 25, 1943 in the very small town of Viola, Arkansas to Claude and Opel Sanders. He received his high school degree from Viola High School (go Longhorns!). At age 19, he married my Nana. I believe the year was 1963. Two years later he was drafted into the Navy, as a Sea-Bee, to serve his country in Vietnam. My father was born in December of 1967. A few years later, after my grandfather returned from Vietnam, his marriage to my Nana ended.
On February 19, 1972, my grandfather Robert remarried my lovely Memaw, formerly Karen Towe. Together Robert and Karen were married for the next 47 years. During this time, they had two beautiful daughters - first, my aunt Robin who was born in 1973, and much later, my aunt Melissa who was born in 1983. With Memaw, Pepaw went on to be the Pepaw of 6 grandchildren in all - Caleb, me (Olivia), Melesse, James, Jackson and Jace.
Pepaw lived in northern Arkansas, in Southern California at Port Hueme Naval base, in various places in Vietnam including Danang, but mostly in Missouri (Kansas City, Nevada, and Springfield).
Pepaw was a dedicated Christian for most of his life. He became a committed Gideon who participated in the distribution of Bibles throughout the world. He often taught the Scriptures in local churches and he was known to be an active congregation member wherever he attended. He encouraged his children, and his children’s children, in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ve been told that Pepaw had a long career in the paint and chemical coatings industries. He worked in various positions, mostly in sales and in technical service. Notable companies he worked for include Pratt & Lambert and Sherwin Williams. Toward the latter part of his life he was a driver, transporting service men and women (recruits) around the state with the company StarForce.
Pepaw was, from an early age (and to the very end), a dedicated American patriot. Robert Sanders loved his country and considered the United States to be a genuine blessing from God. He considered it an honor to serve in the Navy and later in the National Guard. He sacrificed his youth in service to the United States, and his time in the Navy forever shaped and defined his character. He was a faithful serviceman who supported all American troops. He was proud of his extended family who also served and shared his love for God and country.
Bob was also an avid collector of model military tanks. He was a little league baseball coach for a few years. He was fond of gospel music, good barbecue, Loony Tunes, and corn bread in a glass of milk. It is said he could be frequently found at Andy’s enjoying frozen custard with his youngest grandsons.
Pepaw was preceded in death by his mother and father. In addition to his wife, children and grandchildren, he is survived by his four siblings who he loved very much - Twila, Curry, Melinda and Scott.
Visitation will be held from 3:00-4:00 pm on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at Seminole Baptist Church, 4221 S. National Avenue, in Springfield, Missouri. Funeral services will begin at 4:00 pm in the church sanctuary under the care and direction of Herman H. Lohmeyer Funeral Home in Springfield.
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