If you ever had a technical problem, Jeff Sanders was the man to call. In his job as an Electronics Engineer for IMAX theaters and in his role as family tech wizard, Jeff was known for finding solutions to the knottiest technical difficulties. Yet he was also moved to action by human problems, dishing up meals at soup kitchens and serving on international medical missions.
Jeff was welcomed home by Jesus on Thursday, April 4, 2013, after a long and painful illness. He was 51.
Born in Tulsa in 1961, Jeff traveled with his doctor dad and family on Army assignments for five years, living on military posts in Missouri, Maryland and Texas. The family then returned to Oklahoma where Jeff attended Westwood Elementary, middle and high school, graduating from C.E. Donart High School (now Stillwater High) in 1980. Always gifted with musical ability as well as electronics know-how, he played tuba and bassoon in the school band, trumpet in the marching band and saxophone in the stage band.
After attending Oklahoma State University with a Presidential Scholarship and a second scholarship from the OSU Department of Music, Jeff toured with an inspirational musical group, The Spurrlows, performing and serving as stage systems operator. He received an associate degree in applied science in electronic engineering technology from Cleveland Institute of Electronics and a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering technology from the World College of Virginia, and completed additional work toward a masters in electrical engineering at the University of Central Florida.
Following his travels with the Spurrlows, Jeff settled in the Orlando, Fla., area and took a position as electronics technician and media coordinator for Calvary Assembly of God in Winter Park.
In that capacity, he designed, implemented and modified various devices such as an automated curtain and multi-motor scenic rigging for the church’s 5,600-seat theatrical auditorium and sanctuary. He also serviced video projection units and other industrial grade electronic devices and trained and supervised volunteers involved in daily operations.
Jeff’s experience and expertise next took him to Universal Studios Orlando where he served as film and laser group lead and audio/visual department lead. One of his duties there was troubleshooting equipment in the park’s IMAX dome theater, work that led to his most recent job as a control systems engineer for IMAX. He served with passion for 15 years, until his death, traveling all over the world to work on equipment in IMAX theaters. He was to have been honored at an international IMAX meeting in Toronto in March for both his dedicated service to the company and his tireless volunteer work, but he was hospitalized in Los Angeles at the time.
As committed as Jeff was to his work, he always put his time with the Lord and his love of family first. He had just returned from a Faith Medical Mission trip to Cambodia and was eager to relate his experiences about the people he met and witnessed to there, as well as the warmth and dedication of the team with whom he traveled and served.
He was not able to get his thoughts about these miracles, as he called them, down on paper before he was hospitalized.
Jeff’s nieces and nephews, Neva Elizabeth Sanders, Jacob Sanders and Daniel Sanders of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; Christopher Sanders and his wife Christen of Tacoma, Wash.; Colin Sanders and Jennie Sanders of Stillwater; and Cade Dewey, Kira Dewey and Bryn Dewey of North Tonawanda, N.Y., were very dear to him, and time with them always energized him.
Jeff is also survived by his mother, Joy Sanders, of Stillwater; his sister, Dr. Neva Emily Joy Sanders Dewey, and her husband, Dr. Seth Dewey, of North Tonawanda, N.Y.; his brother, David Sanders, and his wife, Tanna, of Stillwater; his sister-in-law, Jacqui Lutterbie, and her husband, Erik, of Stillwater; his brother, Steve Sanders, and his wife, Joy, of Dallas, Texas; his sister-in-law, Karen Best, of Broken Arrow; his aunt, Nancy Sanders Pokerwinski, and her husband, Ray, of Newaygo, Michigan; his cousin, Cheryl Gates, and her family of Edmond; his cousin, Phil Gates, and his family of Edmond; and the family of his cousin Barth Gates, who preceded Jeff in death, of Wichita, Kan.
Others who preceded Jeff in death are his dad, Ronald R. Sanders, Md..; his granddad, Harold R. Sanders, Md.; his grandmothers, Neva M. Sanders and Gladys E. (Mickey) Gates Myatt; his uncles, John J. Gates and Francis B. (Rusty) Gates; his aunt, Pat Gates; and other precious family members, some of whom he did not know here, but will meet in heaven.
Memorial services will be held later in the summer.
Memorial contributions may be made to University Heights Baptist Church (where Jeff was baptized as a teenager), 323 S. Knoblock, Stillwater, 74074; or Faith Medical Missions, P.O. Box 1626, Chickasha, 73023.