Jeff Sanders Biography
Jeffrey Todd Sanders was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 3, 1962, where his parents were serving in the U.S. Army. The family returned to California in 1963 and eventually settled in Angels Camp.
Jeff started first grade at Mark Twain Union Elementary. At 5 years old it became evident that he would be a great athlete. His older step brothers were teaching him to bat in the back yard when he hit the ball and sent it crashing through a window! At 7 years old he joined a Little League farm team. The team was for 8 and 9 year olds. Jeff was the starting second baseman, but soon found that he could be in the spot light as a pitcher were he soon mastered the art of pitching. While in elementary school Jeff was a star basketball player for the Badgers, winning several All Tournament awards in each division. Jeff also was the quarterback on the local A.M.A. Boosters youth football team, the Sierra Packers in both the Jr. Varsity and Varsity. He also manage to fit in the wrestling team and of course, won several first place medals in his age and weight class, and participated on the badger's track and field team were he took several ribbons at the annual Jr. relays. In his last year at Mark Twain he was selected co-most outstanding athlete during the time he spent at Mark Twain.
In 1976 Jeff became a "Bullfrog" at Bret Harte High School. In football Jeff started out playing his normal position in the spot light, quarterback and cornerback his Freshman and Sophomore years. Jeff set a school record for most passing yards his sophomore year. When Jeff reached the Varsity level Jeff was moved from the spot light of quarterback to wide receiver and cornerback, in a predominately running offense. Although Jeff wanted to stay at quarterback with his strong throwing arm, he knew that his lack of speed would not fit in the type of running offense the Bullfrogs ran. One of Jeff's best qualities was that he could put aside his ego for the better of the team and his teammates! He racked up many awards proving that he could still be in the spot light no matter what position he played. Jeff was selected as the Leagues Most Valuable player, the Hawk Award, for the most interceptions and was one of three Bullfrogs selected to play in the Lions Club All-Star game at the University of the Pacific. He was the starter on the basketball team every year except his Jr. year, where he was the 6th man and played a very important role for leadership. His Sr. year he was selected by the Stockton Record for the "All Area Team". Jeff was a top-notch pitcher, not only for the Bullfrogs baseball teams, but also on the local Little League, Sr Little League, Babe Ruth and American Legion teams. As a sophomore, he was selected as the Most Valuable player on the the Bret Harte Varsity team. Jeff attended Delta Jr. College and was a member of the Mustangs baseball team and also played in the Cal-Mex league out of Modesto and Stockton. He later learned to love golf and was responsible for organizing several golf tournaments all over Northern California and Nevada.
But Jeff wasn't all about athletics. Jeff Passed up an opportunity and invitation to play minor league baseball while playing in the Cal-Mex league, so that he could continue to pursue his love for music instead. In his Jr. year in high school Jeff was selected to attend the Rotary Leadership Camp and was elected Student Body Vice President his Sr. year. He learned to love music and credits Phil Stock, music director at Bret Harte, for inspiring him to play the guitar. While in college he helped to form a "New Wave" band which was first known as " The Gents ". He played rhythm guitar, was a back up for vocals and wrote some of the original music. The group later changed their name to " Click Click Clique " when they made their first and only album and was well known throughout the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley's.
What Jeff will always be remembered for, however, is his sense of humor, his ability to laugh at himself and the fact that he was kind to everyone. He was respected by his peers, his teachers, coaches and friends.
In 1974 Jeff learned he had a rare blood disease called hereditary Spherocytosis. This rare blood disease distinct characteristic was that his red blood cells were round in stead of oval. When these red blood cells filtered through the spleen the spleen would kill the cells thinking they were bad cells. Because of this, Jeff had to have his spleen removed. Without his spleen Jeff was susceptible to infections, bacteria, and viruses that the spleen would normally fight off.
Jeff passed away on September 2, 1990, at the early age of 28. He had contracted a particularly aggressive strain of influenza, known as homophiles influenza. It took a mere 8 hours for this disease to take his life.
A Memorial Scholarship Fund has been set up in his name to benefit deserving Bret Harte graduates. This scholarship is funded by the Jeff Sanders memorial Golf Tournament and is hosted annually by his family and friends as a means of keeping his memory alive and to help deserving graduates of his alma mater to continue their education. Recipients are chosen primarily on the basis of their athletic participation, leadership roles and most importantly their evidence of good citizenship and friendship.
Jeff's epitaph reads
"If he could tell us how he wanted us to remember him
He'd say we should dry our tears and smile
He always made people feel good
And that's how we will remember him "
Contact: Mike Sanders