Ronald Wayne Sanders, 89, of White Cloud, Michigan, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on December 8, 2022, following a short illness.
He was born on February 4, 1933, to Frank and Lois (Woodard) Sanders in Lincoln Township, Newaygo County Michigan. Ron graduated from White Cloud High School in 1951 and upon graduation worked for Consumers Power painting high tension towers at Rives Junction, Michigan. Ron was drafted in late 1952 and served in the Army from 1953 to 1955 during the Korean War. Upon returning from the service, he took on a variety of jobs starting as a milk carrier for Mast Dairy out of Fremont before joining the County Road Commission in 1957. There he worked with County Engineer Conrad Zimmerman surveying (a trade he learned in the service) in the non-winter months and driving snowplow during the winter. Along with working for the Road Commission Ron started his own excavation business in 1962 and continued with this venture when he and partner Pat Salisbury formed Salisbury and Sanders Surveys in 1966 for which they served as County Surveyors. Ever the entrepreneur, Ron sold his share of the survey business in 1970 and purchased a Sunoco bulk fuel delivery business. Starting with just a little over 200 patrons, Ron tripled this number to over 600 in 2 years selling this business to Bill Richards. It was at this time Ron formed Town and Country Real Estate, a company he owned and operated over 50 years.
Coinciding with Ron’s time with the survey business and bulk fuel distributorship he continued his service to the County when he was appointed to serve on the County Board of Commissioners in 1968. He served on the Board until 1977 in a variety of positions including Chair of Finance, Vice-Chair of the Board and finally as Board Chair. It was during the time he served as Vice-Chair and Chair that he and the Board secured funding to build the current Administration Building. He resigned from the Board in 1978 when he took a position as a rural mail carrier with U.S Postal Service out of Bitely, Michigan where he eventually became Postmaster and subsequently retired in 1998. Ron also served on the Newaygo County Road Commission Board from 1993 retiring in 2004 as he rejoined the County Board of Commissioners by winning his election that year. He retired from County politics at the end of his term in 2006.
His accumulated service to Newaygo County in a variety of capacities was over 34 years. Ron served on many local boards following his retirement in 2006 from County politics and was sought out by many seeking his sage advice.
Ron loved the outdoors hunting and fishing all over the State of Michigan, Canada, and the Far West making many trips to Colorado. He was an avid golfer, archer, and bowler winning many archery and bowling tournaments.
Ron had a keen interest in aviation and worked with several folks over many years to improve the White Cloud Airport where he served as assistant to the airport manager. He remained active in airport activities for well over 50 years and in that time was co-owner of a J3 Piper Cub.
Of note Ron took on many large projects and was successful in navigating them to completion. One of those projects was moving the Frank Lloyd Wright designed home from Benton Lake in Spring of 1967. Using his excavating equipment, he cut the road right of way 8 miles with help from family and friends to its present location.
Ron was proud of his family and enjoyed many family gatherings and activities involving each person. He especially enjoyed watching and attending anything to do with Michigan State athletics and the Detroit Tigers.
Ron is survived by his wife Judith Sanders (Perry); sons Stewart Sanders (Cindy) of White Cloud, Michigan, Steven Sanders (Leslie) of Grandville, Michigan; daughter Rhonda Sanders of Troy, Ohio; stepdaughter Tracy Bonstell (Mike) of Hart Michigan; Granddaughters Ashley Sanders of Santa Monica, California, Victoria Sanders of Bordeaux, France, and RyAnn Flood (Justin) of St. Petersburg, Florida; Grandsons Gabriel Hersey-Sanders (Joy) of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Kayden Russell of Troy, Ohio, Dane Sanders of Grandville, Michigan, and Brett Bonstell of Hart, Michigan; Great Grandchildren Reese Flood, Ronan Flood, and Scarlett Hersey-Sanders.
He was proceeded in death by his parents Frank and Lois Sanders, sister Velna Kemperman, brother Ward Sanders, and former wife Helen Sanders (Lovell).
Visitation will be held Saturday January 7, 2023, at the Livery Auditorium at the Shack Country Inn, 10am-11am with memorial service at 11am. A luncheon will follow immediately after the service in the dining room of the Shack.
For a lasting memorial please consider a donation to the Heritage Museum of Newaygo County. Their website is www.newaygocountyhistory.org