Earl “Dick” K. Sanders was born on May 3, 1930 in Graham, AZ, a city on the north side of the Gila River. He was the sixth of seven children born to Karl and Mable (Talley) Sanders.
His early boyhood was spent in Klondyke, AZ before his family moved to Safford, AZ. He made friends with Eddie Kimball, son of Spencer W. Kimball, who would later become President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At the age of 16, Dick lied to a recruiter about his age and enlisted in the Army-Air Corps. During basic training in Mississippi, he called home to his mother begging her to help him get home. Her response was, “If you’re man enough to lie your way in, you’re man enough to stay in.” He did, working as an aircraft mechanic, and by the age of 19, he had accomplished the title of crew chief. He was honorably discharged at the end of his enlistment.
When he returned home to Safford, he began courting Marva June Moody of Thatcher, AZ. They met during the fuel ration of WWII when Marva and her friends were hitchhiking from Thatcher to Safford to see a movie. They eloped to Lordsburg, New Mexico and were married by a Justice of the Peace on January 13, 1951.
Their first child, Glen Craig, was born a year later in 1952. Following Glen was Kathy Loren, who was also born in Safford in 1956. David Cory was born in Tucson in 1960. Three years later, in 1963, Richard Kevin, whom Dick affectionately referred to as the “Caboose”, arrived. At this time, Dick worked for various farmers and ranchers in Safford and Patagonia before settling with his young family in Continental, AZ, where he worked until 1973 for Farmer’s Investment Company. The family moved to Sahuarita, AZ in 1974 and Dick worked for Kerley Chemical Corporation as a welder.
Dick and Marva tragically lost their oldest son Craig in 1987, after he contracted the Bubonic Plague. The couple purchased a summer home in Lakeside, AZ where they spent cool summers away from the desert heat. They adopted two canine children, Chico and Bingo, in their retirement years to fill their empty nest. Marva passed away in 2016.
When Dick developed dementia and was unable to live independently, he moved into the Beehive Home in Thatcher. He spent his last two years there, and half of that time devising ways to escape. He once shared a “visit’ he had with his long-deceased father and uncle. He asked them to take him with them. They replied, “Not yet, but we will be back”. On January 26, 2019, he left the Beehive home but not with a “Hogan’s Heroes” scheme.
Dick truly viewed himself as a simple cowboy. He loved his horses and raising a steer or two. He was a talented mechanic and welder. He was passionate about his family and undoubtedly proud of the accomplishments of his children. He has been reunited with his extended family, loving wife, son Craig, as well as a few horses and a forgiving steer or two.
There will be a Graveside service for Dick at the Thatcher Cemetery on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.