Billy Ray Sanders

Published 6:44pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Following an extended illness, Billy Ray Sanders, 82, died on July 23 at the Perry County Nursing Home in Marion.

He was born in Bibb County in 1929 and, although he traveled the world, he has called Marion “home” since the age of three.

He served 22 years of Active Service in the United States Marine Corps and remained connected to his beloved “Corps” all of his life.

An alumnus of Perry County High School, Marion Military Institute and Auburn University, among others, he had a deep value for education and loved sharing knowledge. He dedicated his second career to teaching and treasured the opportunity to shape the future of America. He was a champion for teaching trades to Alabama students and was at the lead for bringing formal vocational education to our schools. He served as an instructor at Francis Marion High School and later as the Director of Vocational Education in Marengo County.

Sanders always strived to make a difference. His contributions to his country, his community and his family can be summed up in two words: “Semper Fidelis,” which means “always faithful.”

Mr. Sanders is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 54 years, Blanche Coleman Sanders; his children, David Eugene Sanders of Gadsden, Sandra (Richard) Christeson of Anniston and W. H. (Jack) Sanders of Sprott; seven grandchildren, Mary Wright, Carrie Tarvin, Joann Sanders, Randall Christeson, Clay (Katie) Christeson, Whitney Sanders and Elizabeth Sanders; and four great-grandchildren, Drew Wright, Gabe Wright, Finley Tarvin and Carter Christenson. He was preceded in death by his parents, W.H. (Bill) Sanders and Annie Rae Sanders; a sister, Martha Jean Smalley; and two sons, John William Sanders and Robert Ray Sanders.

Visitation will be held at Kirk Funeral Homes Marion Chapel on Thursday, July 26 from 10-11 a.m. A service will be held at the chapel following visitation. Interment will be at the Ivey Chapel Cemetery in Sprott.

Pallbearers will be Mr. Sanders’ family members. Honorary pallbearers are Dr. Lee and staff, the Comfort Care Hospice Personnel, Laura Etheridge, LeAnn Teel, Daniele Partridge, Robert Pearce, Perry County Nursing Home staff and nursing team and Dr. David Hodo.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorials be made in memory of Mr. Sanders to the Siloam Baptist Church of Marion or St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Visit www.kirkfuneralhomes.com to place online condolences.

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