50 years ago changed lives for many, including me
With summer coming to a close, growing up in the 50’s & 60’s offered the best summers ever, with the warm weather, pick-up baseball games, swimming in the lake, visiting cousins, running through the grass barefoot; just having lots of fun and not having a care in the world. Those times came crashing to screeching halt during the summer of 1965, between our junior and senior years in high school, when one of my best friends Ken Sanders and his older brother Leo drowned in a local gravel pit while fishing on a summer Sunday morning 50 years ago. Here’s the Minster Post article on their deaths. Just the night before, a bunch of us including Ken were cruising around together having the time of our lives, a much too short life in his case. I was in church that Sunday morning at 10 AM services when all the sirens started to blow, then shortly afterwards, someone came into church to escort Ken and Leo's parents outside and notify them about the terrible accident. His parents were sitting just a few pews ahead of me. As everyone was leaving church, the sad news was relayed quickly among the crowd. Ken was the closest person to die up to that point in my life, so it hit me very hard and still does. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think about him; what might have been, who he would have married, what he would be doing now, how many grandkids might he have, where he’d be living.
Needless to say, the Sanders family, our classmates and the entire town were devastated. Lines were a block long at the funeral home to pay respects and say a prayer for the two brothers. Several of us to-be Seniors were pall bearers at the double funeral, after which our entire class of 37 met up at Louis’s (now Scudzy's) bar in Newport, one of our stops the night before. Needless to say, we shared stories and many toasts in Ken’s memory. Furthermore, soon afterwards when school restarted for our senior year, it came time to elect class officers, and I was asked to nominate Ken as honorary Senior Class president, which I did and he was unanimously elected posthumously. May he and his brother rest in peace.