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Eugene (Gene) W. Sanders
January 4, 1951 – April 22, 2022
Eugene “Gene” W. Sanders (Major, U.S. Army, Retired) completed life’s ultimate tour of duty in the early morning hours of April 22, 2022. He was given an honorable discharge from this earth and accepted his final marching orders from God with quiet dignity and grace surrounded by family at home in Albany. He was preceded in death by his father, Eugene W. Sanders Sr. of Pekin, Indiana; his mother, Muriel Lowry, and his brother, Edward Lowry, both of Springfield, Oregon; and his sister, Cheryl “Cherry” Bellows of Springfield, Oregon.
Left to cherish his memory are his beloved wife, Dianne of Albany, Oregon; children, Sarah (Michael) Smith of Albany, Oregon and Nathan (Veronica) Sanders of Evans, Georgia; two granddaughters, Charlotte Sanders of Evans, Georgia and Hannalise Smith of Albany, Oregon; sisters Gina (Ralph) Easton and Candace “Candy” Strong of Springfield, Oregon; Cynthia “Cindy” Bishop of Albany, Oregon; and Crystal Lowry of Blackfoot, Idaho. Also surviving are many nieces, nephews and “adopted kids”.
Gene was born on January 4, 1951, in Portland, Oregon. He lived in Pekin, Indiana and Creswell, Oregon much of his childhood. He graduated from Creswell High School in 1968. He entered the Army at 17 years of age after getting his mom to agree to sign him up. He served in various locations including Hawaii, Okinawa, and Vietnam. He ultimately served for 3 years in Vietnam where his skills ranged anywhere from being a cook to military policeman to being an advisor to the Vietnamese police. His divisions there include: 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (2/1969 - 2/1970); 29th Calvary, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (8/1970 – 3/1972); and 18th Military Police Brigade (3/1971 – 3/1972). While in Vietnam, he received the Bronze Star among other awards. He received his Army commission to First Lieutenant in 1981 and completed his 20 years of military service in the reserves. He provided service to his country collectively for 42 years.
He attended the University of Portland where he received a BA in Criminal Justice. In the meantime, he met the love of his life, Dianne Louise (Barnes) Sanders and they were married on October 13, 1973. They would have celebrated 49 years of marriage this October 13th. In 1981 he received his master’s degree in Education, Guidance and Counseling, from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington which happened to be the very same day Mount St. Helen’s erupted. In addition, he graduated from the US Army Command and General Staff College in 1990.
He spent some time as an insurance and real estate agent in Washington. Soon after, he was hired as an education counselor for the U.S. Army at Ft. Lewis, Washington. This led him to Bamberg, Muenster, and Bremerhaven, Germany where he was the Senior Education Officer serving all the military in northern Germany from 1983-1988. Once again, he received many awards including Supervisor of the Year.
From years 1988-1991 and 1997-2007 Gene was assigned to US Forces Command (FORSCOM) which oversees all military operations in the United States and its territories on land. During these years he also held the highest security clearance. He was given many commendations during these years also.
From 1991-1997, Gene was assigned to Seoul, South Korea where he served as the Director of Training. This job entailed making sure all Korean and American soldiers assigned to Korea were given the proper training to excel in their jobs. He also taught English to many of the Korean businessmen in the area which resulted in many lifelong friendships.
He retired from Army military service in 1997 as a Major and civilian service with the Dept. of the Army in 2007 as one of the highest-ranking civilians. He then started his own company and obtained a government contract as a logistical consultant to the Army and Navy.
Gene was a very generous person often giving to those in need and serving in a variety of capacities. He spent 5 years as chief cook for about 300 people at a homeless shelter in Atlanta, Georgia. He also served about 5 years as a board member/shift leader of Helping in His Name food pantry in McDonough, Georgia. He helped establish a Celebrate Recovery program at his church (Community Bible) in McDonough, Georgia. He served as a leader and coffee barista there for about 6 years. In addition, he served as the head of security for their youth camps for many years. He had a passion for helping youth succeed.
Gene had a curiosity-driven nature. His lifelong pursuit of knowledge was relentless and something to emulate. He enjoyed a diverse array of hobbies including working on and customizing vehicles including a golf cart. Every vehicle he owned he customized and made into one of a kind. He also enjoyed working on household projects, cooking, reading, and studying the Bible, travelling, going for drives to find new restaurants and coffee shops. He had a vast knowledge of world and Biblical history. He was an enthusiastic conversationalist and could hold his own in discussing most topics, even when having to brief many generals throughout his career.
The love and pride he had for his military and other service was matched only by his love for his God and his family until the end of his life. He was never afraid to talk to people about any of them. He inspired so many, was loved by so many, and will be greatly missed. The Sanders family is profoundly grateful for the care provided by his medical team including Samaritan Evergreen Hospice. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Gene’s name to Samaritan Evergreen Hospice in Albany, Oregon for the Veteran’s Inpatient Flag Program in which Gene was major contributor; Oregon Chapter Ronald McDonald House Charities; Families for HoPE, Inc. (www.familiesforhope.org or 1219 North Whittfield Street, Indianapolis IN, 46229) on behalf of Gene’s granddaughter Hannalise born with HoPE); and Albany City Church youth program (2418 Geary Street SE, Albany OR, 97322). Celebration of life will be on Armed Forces Day, Saturday May 21, 2022, at 2:00 pm at Albany City Church. Gene’s family requests attendees wear red, white, and blue or Army green attire. Funeral arrangements by AAsum – Dufour Funeral Home.