FREDONIA: Master Sergeant David P. Sanders, 83, USMC Ret., of Rt. 83, Fredonia, died peacefully in Hospice at Buffalo General, Friday, August 2nd, 2019 after a very brief battle with lung cancer. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 25, 1936, the son of the late Joseph H. and Helen R. (Jadric) Sanders.
Mr. Sanders attended St. Jerome’s School and Cathedral Latin School. Later in life, Mr. Sanders earned his Bachelors of Arts Degrees in Political Science and Sociology from SUNY Fredonia. His interest in law led him to the elected office as Justice of the Peace in the Town of Arkwright, which he served for 17 years and also served on the Town Board. He worked as a Welder at Ford Stamping Plant, Woodlawn, for 20 years.
Mr. Sanders joined the Marine Corps in 1953 and retired after 20 years at the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant. MSGT Sanders was assigned for many years to Marine Helicopter Squadron HMX-1, home of the Presidential Helicopter Marine One. He served this role under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson & Nixon and was honored with the Presidential Service Medal. He served several tours in Vietnam, most notably as an aerial gunner, flying “Hueys in VMO-2”, where he was awarded 7 Air Combat Medals, Air Crew Wings and several other decorations & distinctions. MSGT Sanders continued serving his country and fellow veterans as a Lifetime member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, The Marine Corps League and VFW. He served in various office roles as well as organized and participated in annual charitable fund raising events for both of these organizations for many years. MSGT Sanders was also a dedicated supporter of MIA/POW recovery efforts.
“Griz” was fond of children, despite his gruff exterior and provided leadership to many young people through his involvement in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and 4H. Mr. Sanders often served as Santa Claus, a tradition he and his wife Alice, carried on since their early years together, when they would help support the families of Marines and Sailors who were assigned overseas and were not able to be with their families. He was an avid firearms enthusiast with a special interest in black powder muskets and firearms safety.
Mr. Sanders operated Dave’s Musket Shop in Arkwright for a number of years, was involved in Hunter Safety training and was a proud Lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. “Griz” was a 38 year member of the 9th New York Cavalry, an organization within the North-South Skirmish Association, a national organization dedicated to historical preservation and education centering on the American Civil War. He also served as a safety inspector and small arms expert for 15 years, helping to ensure the safety of participants in hundreds of sporting competitions.
Survivors include his wife and soul mate of 55 years, Alice M. (Austin) Sanders of Arkwright, six children Jerald (Susan), James (Jamia), Suzanne, Bruce, Timothy, and Paul (Lucia) Sanders. Also surviving are eighteen grandchildren, twenty four great grandchildren and long-time family friends James (Jill) McKenna their three children and two grandchildren. Besides his parents he was predeceased by a son Brian Sanders and two grandchildren Toby Brian Sanders and Lisa Dawn Sanders.
Friends are welcome to call at Riles & Woolley Funeral Home, 39 Main Street, Forestville on Wednesday evening from 7-9 PM and on Thursday from 2-4 & 7-9 PM, from where Funeral Services will be held Friday morning at 11 o’clock. Interment will follow in Forestville Cemetery, where graveside military services will be conducted.
The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made either to Vietnam Veterans of America, The Marine Corps League, any VFW or any other veteran support group. To post condolences go to www.rilesandwoolleyfuneralhome.com.