On Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Richard K. Sanders (Dick) was welcomed into Heaven by LaVeta, his beloved wife of fifty-seven years, who preceded him in death by four days to prepare their place together in eternity. Dick was surrounded by his loving family when he passed peacefully to be with his Lord at LaVeta’s side.
Born in Abilene, Kansas on November 13, 1936 to Orville W. and Leona (Byers) Sanders, Dick was the third of five children. His early life was spent traveling the country following Leona’s typesetting jobs as they came and went. Dick was always industrious and responsible, and was the de facto caregiver to his siblings by the time he was a young teen. He worked hard, always carried pocket money for personal or family needs, and never bought on credit; attributes he maintained for life. In 1953, the family moved to Wheatland, MO where he attended his senior year at Weaubleau High School. There, among the other twelve members and lifetime friends of the Class of ’54, he met LaVeta Harper, who would later become the love of his life and mother of his children.
Dick enlisted in the Marine Corp at seventeen out of high school. He was in every way the epitome of a Marine to the end. Dick had a distinguished career, and one of the very few “Mustangs” whose honor it was to transition from enlisted to commissioned officer in the Corp. He did tours of duty in Vietnam and Okinawa and ultimately retired as a Major, after having served as District Adjutant and Chief Legal Officer at HQMC in Arlington, VA. A very proud Marine, he stood any time the Marine Hymn was performed; and his kids were obliged to join him at attention, even at the local pizza shop. He retired in 1976 and thereafter enjoyed a civilian career with Pool Arabia and Pool Oil Company (Houston) that ended with his second retirement in 1994 in Houston, TX. Thereafter, Dick and LaVeta purchased their farm in Cleveland, MO. The farm was indeed a “grandchild trap”. Summer vacations and Christmas were always at the farm; with Dick letting the grandkids learn by doing-engraining a sense of hard work and responsibility in them all. The farm was generously shared with the local community, and countless holiday and special events were hosted there. His menagerie included cattle, miniature donkeys, exotic bovine, buffalo, llama, and of course Joe Camel, Camp Nana is a special place that was hard work, but made Dick so proud that he often proclaimed, “If I died today, I’d die a happy man.” We are sure he did.
To the end, Dick selflessly gave his time and assistance to many community causes. He was involved in scouting, volunteered his time at countless community events, served on the board of the local volunteer fire department, the community club, and diligently donated his time and finances to the church. Dick and his sons rode their bikes from Overland Park to Canon City, CO in 1975, and he ran the Houston-Tenneco marathon in 1985, both “just because”. Dick worked his bucket list before the term was coined. He led a rich and fulfilling life, a gentleman farmer Marine if there ever was. Yet, he found time to be the best grandpa ever. Dick Sanders leaves many happy memories with his surviving sons, spouses and grandchildren, Kent and Karen Sanders (Nicole and Kolin), Keith and Reem Sanders (Keane and Merrik), and daughter Karen Forde (Samantha and Steven). Dick is also survived by siblings and spouses Virginia and George Clark, Shirley Cross, and Pat and Carmen Sanders and many nieces, nephews loving in-laws and Marine comrades. Semper fi Dad.