Cover photo for James Reed Sanderson's Obituary
James Reed Sanderson Profile Photo

James Reed Sanderson

August 10, 1931 — October 22, 2021

James Reed Sanderson

James Reed Sanderson, 90, passed away at home, surrounded by his loving and devoted family, on October 22, 2021, in Riverton, Utah.

He was born on August 10, 1931, in Manti, Utah, to G. Reed Sanderson and Ethel B. Sanderson, who both came from very large families.

James grew up in Sandy where he had a lot of friends and enjoyed playing with his many cousins. He liked school and made excellent grades. His dad for many years was not only his school principal, but his bishop as well, which probably helped keep him in line during these formative years!  He sang in choirs, acted in school plays and performed with the Sandy Junior High and Jordan High School bands. Learning to play the baritone proved to be life changing. This is where he spied a beautiful saxophone player, Doris, who he eventually dared ask to his high school graduation ceremony and dance. This lead to their eternal love and marriage in the Salt Lake temple on November 16, 1951. They would have been married 70 years in just a couple of weeks.

He attended the University of Utah where he studied business, earning his undergraduate degree in Business Administration, eventually earning an MBA. James was proud of the fact that his grandfather had been a member of the first graduating class at the U of U, beginning a legacy of four generations--his grandfather, his father, himself and his daughter. Go Utes!

James enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1950, hoping to be able to stay in college and at home in Sandy. He was fortunate enough to be assigned to the same unit as his brother-in-law Bert Elg, a cousin and friends from high school. Soon after his marriage in1951, his unit was activated and they were all relocated to Clovis, New Mexico. He was assigned to work in the headquarters office where he described his service as "flying an Underwood" - a typewriter. Luckily, there was an early release program and they only had to spend 8 short months away from home.

After moving back to Utah, they bought a home in Sandy, living next door and across the street from his two sisters and their husbands. They lived in this triangle of friendship for two years before moving to a new home in Midvale. This was a happy time for them, made even happier by the addition of their daughter, Sheri. Through LDS placement services, James and Doris were able to enjoy the opportunity to become parents. A surprise phone call four years later led to another addition to the family, a son, Mark. James felt it was a wonderful blessing to be able to be sealed as a family in the Salt Lake Temple.

James began his professional career working in the installment loan department at Continental Bank. This experience at the bank helped prepare him to become the first Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at the University of Utah in 1959. This position took his family to a brand new home in Salt Lake City where they lived for ten years. Numerous opportunities for employment often came from all over the country, but in 1971, he accepted a position as the Director of the Western Region of the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) taking the family to Palo Alto, California. His job included helping colleges and universities in twelve western states with their financial aid and scholarship services. In 1981 he welcomed an early and generous retirement package at the young age of 55. After retiring, they moved back to Utah to a lovely home in East Millcreek. They spent 23 years there before moving to Riverton, Utah.

One of the things that James enjoyed doing in retirement was building and flying model airplanes. He belonged to a special flying group of friends that included his brothers-in-law. He enjoyed giving flying lessons and even taught airline pilots to fly model airplanes. He loved to invite people to come out with him to the model airports to give flying a try.  After crashing in the first few minutes, not many wanted to try again, even though he didn't care one bit.

He also enjoyed creating memories with his immediate and extended family camping in the Fairview Mountains, as well as Bear Lake, Smith and Moorehouse Reservoir, Mirror Lake, Capitol Reef and Zion. They also loved visiting the California and Oregon Coasts. With his sisters and brothers-in-law he and Doris traveled all over Europe numerous times. For their 50th wedding anniversary, Jim and Doris treated their children and spouses to a special trip to England and Paris. What a generous and memorable experience for his family!

James was a quick-study at everything he turned his focus to, and loved becoming a self-taught computer nerd. He mentored neighbors at the Millcreek and Riverton senior centers and never missed a Kim Komando technology article or an opportunity to add a gadget to his home theatre system. He enjoying sending clever and humorous antidotes and jokes to family and friends via email.

Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was important to James. He treasured his temple marriage and remained active in the church his whole life. James served in many capacities, including a counselor in several bishoprics, a member of several high councils, a gospel doctrine teacher and many other leadership positions. James and Doris served two missions for the church, one an inner-city mission and the other, teaching English to workers at Deseret Manufacturing.

James is survived by his wife, Doris, his children, Sheri (Stephen) Montgomery and Mark (Sherry) Sanderson; 4 grandchildren: Gavin Francey, Jessica (Garrison) Hansen, J.P. (Aubrey) Sanderson, Katie (Spencer) Ray; 8 great-grandchildren: Gabriel Hansen, Nathaniel Hansen, Peter Hansen, Andrew Hansen, Rosalyn Ray, Oliver Ray, Eleanora Ray and Hazel Sanderson. Preceding him in death were his parents, his sisters and their husbands, Jean (Charlie) Greenwood and Maxine (Bert) Elg. He also leaves extended family members whom he loved dearly.

He was loved, respected and admired by all who knew him. He had a lovely sense of humor, enjoyed giving nicknames and teasing, was a kind and patient teacher, a doting husband and a gentle, loving father. His presence will be greatly missed and his legacy will last forever.

A viewing will be held at Goff Mortuary, 8090 South State, in Midvale from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m on Friday, October 29th. A graveside service will follow at Sandy Cemetery, 600-698 East, 9000 South, at 1:30. All friends and family are invited to attend either or both. The family asks that masks be worn at the viewing.
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