OBITUARY

Stephen Paul Sanders

August 21, 1952July 10, 2018
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Life Story of Stephen Paul Sanders Date of Birth: August 21, 1952 Date of Death: July 10, 2018

Pertinent Childhood Facts: Stephen (Steve) was born in Fort Worth, Texas to Kenneth and Ruby Joyce Sanders; their second child in 1952. Their first child, David was six years old at the time and the family was living in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth. Everyone was excited about the new baby and he received all the appropriate attention and love. He could not have been more welcome at the small, modest home on Dodson Drive. Dad was working on the production line of the “bomber plant,” Consolidated Vultee Aircraft, a booming enterprise employing thousands of men and women, many of whom, like Dad, who were veterans of the War.

Ancestry: Steve was part of a large family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, half of them in Fort Worth, Texas and the other half, north of the Texas - Oklahoma border. His ancestry hailed from West Texas and southern Oklahoma. His mother’s family, the Lawlers, were generally West Texas folk who had taken up farming and other trades in the early 19th century around Abilene, Baird and ____, Texas. Their progenitors had migrated into Texas through the “southern route” along the frontier trails of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Lawler family members had settled in North Carolina after having migrated from England in the 17th century. Steve’s family on the Sanders side had likewise migrated from England during that period of time and settled in North Carolina. As it turns out, the Sanders and the Lawlers lived within 50 miles of each other in North Carolina during the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of the Sanders descendants followed the same route as the Lawlers west to better fortunes in Texas and beyond. But, half of them moved into Tennessee and Kentucky. From there, in the late 19th century moved into Indian Territory as part of the early white residents of the land to become Oklahoma. Indeed, Steve’s great-great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian, married to ne of those early settlers.

Early Childhood: Benefitting from the good fortune afforded by Dad’s work, the family moved to Haltom City on the west side of Fort Worth, to a larger house on Edith Lane. Steve began his education at West Birdville Elementary School in 1958 and then attended Haltom Junior High School. Steve gathered many friends and enjoyed life with his family close by; cousins in frequent contact. Dad was adamant that the boys should see as much of the country as possible, so the family took many vacations together with family.

Formative Influences: Dad was intent on teaching his boys the value of hard work and the satisfaction that came with making things with your hands. So, in addition to the normal boyhood activities, sports, and birthday parties, there were plenty of chores and projects for Steve and his brother to work on. Steve’s practical education at home was formative in determining the path of his future education and career.

Early Musical Development: On the other hand, Mom was a musician and music was a big part of the family life during Steve’s childhood and teen years. He inherited a talent for music, piano and keyboards in particular, from Mom. Many family get-togethers were opportunities for family singing and the enjoyment of music. Mom played the piano and so did her boys. Mom loved Christian music and taught her boys to love it as well. As Steve grew, he was influenced by many musical talents, but one person in particular dominated his development; Andrae Crouch, a gospel music performer, producer and artiste extraordinaire of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Crouch’s music was loved by millions and Steve studied it and adapted its style into his repertoire.

Church: The family attended Bethel Temple Church in Fort Worth, Texas, an Assembly of God Church founded in the later years of World War II and the church home to Steve’s maternal grandmother, Ruby Lawler (“Grandma”). Grandma and her two girls, Lucille and Ruby Joyce were part of the founding members of the Church and both girls were very active in the church’s activities, especially the musical programs. And, the Church had many opportunities for members to exercise their love for music. In that environment Steve was introduced to Chuck Dennie, another boy of the same age who would become Steve’s lifelong friend and future collaborator in one of Steve’s greatest adventures and accomplishments. Both shared a love for gospel and later contemporary Christian music and through that shared interest participated in many musical groups and activities. Steve was exposed to the Bible and Christian teachings by many people at the Church and at home; his family having strong Christina values and beliefs. Mom and Dad and all the aunts and grandparents contributed to Steve’s religious upbringing and formed in him a strong faith and conviction that took him through many challenges and difficulties in his life, including his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Marriages: Steve met Natha Marshall at his church, Calvary Cathedral in Fort Worth and later married her in a church ceremony there in 1984. They were married for 21 years from then until her death from breast cancer in 2005. From that marriage came his two children, Austin and Kristin. The family lived in Fort Worth and Greenville, Texas; later moving to Menominee, Wisconsin. It was a happy marriage. Steve was a devoted father and husband and provided well for his wife and children. His children and wife were devoted to him as well. After Natha’s death, Steve was introduced to Penelope Jaeger by a colleague at Steve’s place of employment, Enstrom Helicopters. They were married in a garden ceremony at the family home in Menominee in 2008 and enjoyed life together until Steve’s illness required him to be moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2016. Though separated, Penny maintained regular contact with Steve and with the assistance of her sisters and family, Betsy Jaeger, especially, made regular visits to Steve at the Garden Terrace Assisted Living Center in Fort Worth.

Education: Steve attended West Birdville Elementary School, Haltom Junior School and graduated from Brewer High School in 1970. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington.

Accomplishments: Steve was a trained and experienced machinist and held an Airframe and Power Plant license, a certification essential for his work in the aerospace industry. He excelled in his work and rose in various positions based on his technical knowledge, skills and interpersonal skills in management. Among his non-professional accomplishments, associated principally with his pursuit of and love for Christian music, was the work he did with Mephibosheth, a Christian musical group, organized by Steve and several of his friends in the late 1970’s. The Group played concerts around Texas, but its most important work, according to the Group, was the work that it did in Germany with the US Army Chaplains Association. They toured several of the bases in Germany during the late 70’s, entertaining the troops and holding evangelistic meetings at many locations near the bases. Their work was greatly appreciated by the Chaplains and the troops and many of those soldiers were baptized into the Christian faith as a result of Mephibosheth’s efforts. Following that engagement, Mephibosheth began a series of concerts and meetings at Calvary Cathedral in Fort Worth that lasted for four months, which resulted in over 9,000 young people being baptized as Christians. That meeting set a standard and record for the young church that guided its work in the future; many of those young people becoming ministers themselves and winning others to Christ. Steve would say that of all the things that he accomplished in life, none were more important to him than the work he did with Mephibosheth.

Employment: Steve was employed by Enstrom Helicopters, Menominee, Wisconsin from 2004 until his medical retirement in 2015. Prior to that, he was employed by Heliodyne and General Dynamics, both in Fort Worth, Texas.

Places of Residence: Steve lived in Fort Worth, Texas, Greenville, Texas and Menominee, Wisconsin.

Hobbies and Special Interests: In addition to music, Steve’s main non-occupational interest, he loved tennis and golf.

Personal Description of Steve: Steve was a very kind person, full of compassion and consideration for others. He was a loving father, absolutely committed to his wife and children. He was a beloved son and brother. He was talented and a highly principled person.

Survivors: Steve is survived by his wife, Penny, two children, Austin and Kristin; his father, Kenneth R. Sanders; and his brother, David.

Services

  • Funeral Service Friday, July 13, 2018
  • Funeral Service Saturday, July 14, 2018
  • Committal Service Saturday, July 14, 2018
  • Reception Saturday, July 14, 2018
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Stephen Paul Sanders

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Biography

Stephen (Steve) was born in Fort Worth, Texas to Kenneth and Ruby Joyce Sanders; their second child in 1952. Their first child, David was six years old at the time and the family was living in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth.

Ancestry
Steve was part of a large family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, half of them in Fort Worth, Texas and the other half, north of Texas - Oklahoma border.

Early Childhood
Steve began his education at West Birdville Elementary School in 1958 and then attended Haltom Junior High School. Steve gathered many friends and enjoyed life with his family close by; cousins in frequent contact. Dad was adamant that the boys should see as much of the country as possible, so the family took many vacations together with family.

Early Musical Development
He inherited a talent for music, piano and keyboards in particular, from Mom. Many family get-togethers were opportunities for family singing and the enjoyment of music. Mom played the piano and so did her boys. Mom loved Christian music and taught her boys to love it as well. As Steve grew, he was influenced by many musical talents, but one person in particular dominated his development; Andrae Crouch, a gospel music performer, producer and artiste extraordinaire of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Crouch’s music was loved by millions and Steve studied it and adapted its style into his repertoire.

Church
The family attended Bethel Temple Church in Fort Worth, Texas, an Assembly of God Church. In that environment Steve was introduced to Chuck Dennie, another boy of the same age who would become Steve’s lifelong friend and future collaborator in one of Steve’s greatest adventures and accomplishments. Both shared a love for gospel and later contemporary Christian music and through that shared interest participated in many musical groups and activities. Steve was exposed to the Bible and Christian teachings by many people at the Church and at home. Mom and Dad and all the aunts and grandparents contributed to Steve’s religious upbringing and formed in him a strong faith and conviction that took him through many challenges and difficulties in his life, including his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Marriages
Steve met Natha Marshall at his church, Calvary Cathedral in Fort Worth and later married her in a church ceremony there in 1984. They were married for 21 years from then until her death from breast cancer in 2005. From that marriage came his two children, Austin and Kristin. The family lived in Fort Worth and Greenville, Texas; later moving to Menominee, Wisconsin. It was a happy marriage. Steve was a devoted father and husband and provided well for his wife and children. His children and wife were devoted to him as well.
After Natha’s death, Steve was introduced to Penelope Jaeger by a colleague at Steve’s place of employment, Enstrom Helicopters. They were married in a garden ceremony at the family home in Menominee in 2008 and enjoyed life together until Steve’s illness required him to be moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2016. Though separated, Penny maintained regular contact with Steve and with the assistance of her sisters and family, Betsy Jaeger, especially, made regular visits to Steve at the Garden Terrace Assisted Living Center in Fort Worth.

Education
Steve attended West Birdville Elementary School, Haltom Junior School and graduated from Brewer High School in 1970. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington.

Accomplishments
Steve was a trained and experienced machinist and held an Airframe and Power Plant license, a certification essential for his work in the aerospace industry. He excelled in his work and rose in various positions based on his technical knowledge, skills and interpersonal skills in management.
Among his non-professional accomplishments, associated principally with his pursuit of and love for Christian music, was the work he did with Mephibosheth, a Christian musical group, organized by Steve and several of his friends in the late 1970’s. The Group played concerts around Texas, but its most important work, according to the Group, was the work that it did in Germany with the US Army Chaplains Association. They toured several of the bases in Germany during the late 70’s, entertaining the troops and holding evangelistic meetings at many locations near the bases. Their work was greatly appreciated by the Chaplains and the troops and many of those soldiers were baptized into the Christian faith as a result of Mephibosheth’s efforts. Following that engagement, Mephibosheth began a series of concerts and meetings at Calvary Cathedral in Fort Worth that lasted for four months, which resulted in over 9,000 young people being baptized as Christians. That meeting set a standard and record for the young church that guided its work in the future; many of those young people becoming ministers themselves and winning others to Christ. Steve would say that of all the things that he accomplished in life, none were more important to him than the work he did with Mephibosheth.

Employment
Steve was employed by Enstrom Helicopters, Menominee, Wisconsin from 2004 until his medical retirement in 2015. Prior to that, he was employed by Helodyne and General Dynamics, both in Fort Worth, Texas.
In addition to music, Steve’s main non-occupational interest, he loved tennis and golf. Steve was a very kind person, full of compassion and consideration for others. He was a loving father, absolutely committed to his wife and children.

Survivors
Steve is survived by his wife, Penny, two children, Austin and Kristin; his father, Kenneth R. Sanders; and his brother, David.