LeRoy “Lee” Sanders


LeRoy “Lee” Sanders, 86, of Willmar, died Saturday, October 12th at Carris Health Rice Memorial Hospital. His funeral will be 11:00 am, Monday, October 21st at Vinje Lutheran Church in Willmar with burial in Clover Leaf Cemetery. Military Honors will be provided by American Legion Post #167 of Willmar. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church on Monday. Funeral arrangements are with Harvey Anderson Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Vinje Lutheran Church or the American Cancer Society. 

LeRoy was born July 6, 1933, in Hoffman, MN, the son of Alfred and Ina (Hanson) Sanders. He grew up on a farm near Hoffman and graduated from Hoffman High School in 1952. He continued his education at Gustavus Adolphus College in 1956 with a degree in education. In 1957 he was drafted into the United States Army. He served at Fort Hood, Texas, for two years on the 2nd Missile Battalion.

On June 20, 1959, he was united in marriage to Ruth Swanberg in Sisseton, SD. LeRoy taught English as well as serving as the school’s librarian in Dassel, MN, at Dassel High School. He was at Dassel from 1959-1963. In 1964 LeRoy began teaching, English, Geography, Social Studies and History at Willmar Junior High. He also served as the advisor for the school newspaper for 30 years and also taught driver’s education at both schools for over 30 years. LeRoy retired from teaching fulltime in 1998.

LeRoy served on many committees and boards over the years including Vinje Lutheran Church Council, Crow River Regional Library System and Pioneerland Library System. He also was an active member of Willmar Education Association.

His love of teaching was evident over the years as he not only took the opportunity to teach traditional students in a classroom setting, but also taught students in community education courses. Over the years, he taught photography, Swedish, 55 Alive and along with friend, Ardell Moen, taught a summer school course on Minnesota history to hundreds of eager eighth graders. This course always culminated with a camping trip to the North Shore exposing many kids to their first camping experience.

He was a regular attendee of the group that met every morning for coffee. The issues of the world were solved here and countless hours were spent in gentle kidding and comradery. LeRoy and Ruth enjoyed spending many winters in Ft. Myers, FL, attending Twins spring training, exploring southwest Florida and making many new friends from around the country. LeRoy will be remembered for his patience, kindness, and wonderful sense of humor. He enjoyed visiting and getting to know people, traveling and celebrating anything with Scandinavian Heritage.

Surviving are his wife, Ruth; children: Linda Sanders of Willmar; Charles Sanders of Columbia Heights and Susan Sanders of Willmar. Also surviving are his siblings: Audrey Sanders of Edina; Willard (and Sandra) of Perham; Marlys (and Jerry) Siverson of Maplewood; brother-in-law, Ken Barret of St. Paul.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Karen Barret.

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