Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Tribute to Our Mother, Ruby Sanders

Our dear mother, Ruby Aveline Sanders, long time Durango and Dolores resident, died in the early morning of April 23, 2014 in Durango, Colorado.  She died of natural causes, incident to a stroke, in her sleep, in her home, surrounded by two of her daughters and son.

She was the most loving mother imaginable to six children-- Darlene, Eugene, Linda Sue, Patricia, Paula, and Dale.  Tragically, she lost two of her children to accidents at very early age—Linda Sue at 18 months and Eugene at 18 years.  Through her heart and determination, she overcame the sorrow of her losses to serve as a beacon of inspiration to everyone around her, right through the last moments of her life.  The evening before she passed away, she was not feeling well, but she went for a walk around her neighborhood of 60 years anyway, saying, "Well, I'm not going to feel any better if I just sit around." :-)

We are holding a graveside service for Mom, this Saturday, April 26th, at 2 pm, at the Summit Ridge Cemetery (also known as Sunset Memorial Gardens) about 2 miles southeast of Dolores, Colorado, just off the old highway above Lost Canyon, at the intersection of State Highway 184 and County Road 30. Mom's ashes will be buried next to her soul mate, our dear father, Amos Doyle Sanders, and within a mother's reach of our sister and brother, her beloved children, Linda Sue and Eugene. Don't feel obligated to attend, but if you can, we would love to celebrate Mom's life with you.

After services, we will enjoy a party hosted by Mom's brother, our Uncle Vic Hodges, and Aunt Jeanie, at their ranch northeast of Cortez, 24093 Road S, Dolores, Colorado.

On July 19th, 2014, we will host a block party around Mom’s house in Durango to celebrate what would have been her 90th birthday.  Please hold that date on your calendar for this joyous reunion.

If you would like another way to express your love for Mom, you can donate to our sister Trish McCarty’s charter school, StarShine Academy in Phoenix, AZ. Mom was so proud of Trisha's work with so many children, giving them a hand up, from a disadvantaged state of life.  You can also donate to any Labor & Delivery ward at the hospital of your choice, in honor of her daughter Paula’s work as a caring and gentle nurse for the world’s babies.

She was the eldest daughter of Victor and Thelma Hodges, born of strong and true pioneer spirit, on the plains of eastern Colorado in their dugout cabin on a hot and humid July 21st, 1924.  Her dearest friend and sister, LaVella, was born four years later in 1928; her sister Yvonne was born in 1943 and brother Vic in 1946.  In 1931, during the peak of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, the family turned west, to farm in the greener, cooler mountains of Montezuma County.  In 1942, she married the love of her life, Amos Doyle Sanders, an adventuresome and dashing young man with black hair and hazel eyes, from northern Texas, who came west for the opportunity to work in the booming logging camps of McPhee.  He was a spirited entrepreneur, but like many men of that era, he marched the path of freedom and patriotism and went off to war in March of 1943, forced to leave his beautiful wife, raising their 18-month old daughter, Darlene, and six month old son, Eugene.  In December of 1944 he fought in the forests of the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge.  He returned from World War II safely, only to be called back into service again, but this time accompanied by Mom, his partner by his side, and their growing family.  Their military life together would take them to post-WWII Europe and the reconstruction of Germany, back to Durango where Dad was the US Air Force recruiter for western Colorado, then off to Japan and Fuju Air Force Base; March Air Force Base, California; and SAC Headquarters in Omaha; then back to their home in Durango in 1968 when Dad retired. It was a whirlwind life of adventure for the family, and Mom, from tiny Dolores, embraced the adventure with her infectious optimism and determination to always make the best of any situation.  They made an adventure out of everything in their worldwide travels. 

As Mom was fond of saying, “Your Dad and I must have danced a million miles to the sounds of Glen Miller and In the Mood.”  Mom and Dad slept like spoons, entwined together in the arms of one anothers’ love, their entire marriage, unless one of their children had a nightmare and needed their embrace, in which case they would let us sleep between them.

After Dad’s death in 1978—the loss of her third loved one, too early in life-- Mom picked herself up and transformed.  She enrolled in college (Ft Lewis College) for the first time in her life, at age 54.   It was common for her to encounter her son, Dale, also attending the same college, and share a hug as they walked past each other on campus.  They studied together, under many late nights, at her kitchen table.  Prior to Dad’s death, she was a fulltime mother and wife, but after his death, Mom took her first professional job, at Durango Medical, working there for 15 years as a clerk and receptionist. She would often say, “The friends that I made at Durango Medical saved my life after your daddy’s death.  I don’t know what I would have done without them.”  She worked at the local Humane Society Thrift Store for 14 years, again making friends there that would further transform and enrich her life while her remaining four children lived in cities far beyond Durango.  We, her children, cannot express in words the gratitude and thanks we hold for the many friends in Durango who were Mom’s companions and caretakers for so many years, while our lives took us away, for so long.  You were Mom’s sons and daughters, too. Thankfully, God enabled her son, Dale, and his wife, Laure, to return to Durango for the past two and half years, sharing those precious years with her.  To everyone's surprise, Laure and Dale also gave birth to Mom’s last grandchild and Dale’s first child, a completely unexpected event for all of us. That baby, Anna Elizabeth, brought boundless joy into the last two months of Mom’s life.  As the beauty of one life ends, the beauty of another life begins.  We can see the sunshine of Mom’s smile in all of her 29 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren.

Mom was known for her enormously deep spirituality. She especially enjoyed her Bible study and Science of Mind groups, while also studying Taoism and Buddhism, always expanding her understanding of God and existence.  She was an insatiable reader, reading at least one novel per week, right up until the time of her death.  For a few years, she loved Sudoku puzzles until “they got too easy.”  She loved to color in coloring books; not children’s coloring books, but very intricate and beautiful pieces of art.  She was always a classy dresser, no matter what the occasion, no matter if she were feeling poorly, she always looked beautifully and tastefully dressed. She loved to walk and hike, and was a fixture in her neighborhood of Crestview, making friends and conversation with everyone as she traveled the streets with her little dogs, for the last 12 years her Yorky, Missy.  Everyone in the neighborhood knew Mom and Missy. The day of her death, Mom took a walk with her daughter, Darlene, saying in her usually determined way, “It won’t do me any good to sit around. I have to keep walking if I want to feel better.”

She epitomized the power of a mother’s love, the strongest power in the Universe.  Her undying faith in her children permeated to her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.  She believed in us, so we believed in us.  She raised her children with kindness and respect, so we sought to give back the same to her.  She also had a wonderful laugh, smile, and sense of humor.  Her son told her just a few weeks before her death, after she paid him one of her usually large compliments, “Mom, I think you would love me even if I were an axe murderer.” She laughed and said, “Well, probably so, but only if you were good at it.”

We will miss everything about you, Mom, as will the thousands of other hearts that were touched by your brightness, or a kind word of praise, a tender hand, or perfectly worded and timely piece of advice.  It will be up to all of us to live the rest of our lives in your honor, and pay forward what you gave to us.  Until we meet again.


cneugart said...


cneugart said...


Mark Candelaria said...

Beautiful tribute. Learned so much more about you. What an amazing life your mother and all of you have all lived. My prayers and condolences.

Francine Romero said...

Dale, what a wonderful story. What a wonderful life. God bless you and your family. What a wonderful tribute from a loving son.


tarah said...

So sorry for your loss. She sounds like an amazing woman with a beautiful life. You and your family are in my thoughts. Namaste, my friend.

Watson Wright said...


My deepest condolences on your loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your entire family.


Anonymous said...

Very nice tribute to your Mother. Obviously she was an outstanding person, and she, along with your Father, raised a loving, grateful family. What more could one want out of life.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Mother. Obviously she was an outstanding person. What more could a person want than to know that she helped raise a loving, grateful family.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Mother, Ruby. Obviously she was a wonderful person. What more would a person want out of life than to know that she helped raise a grateful, loving family.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Mother, Ruby. Obviously she was a wonderful person. What more would a person want out of life than to know that she helped raise a grateful, loving family.

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