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David Scott Sanders

Professor, author, veteran, baseball fan

David Scott Sanders, emeritus professor and former chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Harvey Mudd College, died on February 23, 2014 in Carlsbad, California where he had lived for 18 years after moving from Claremont following his retirement from academic life. He was 87.

The only child of David Scott Sanders and Marjorie Elizabeth Wheat, he was born June 14, 1926 in Kellogg, Idaho where his father was a mining engineer. He had strong ties to southern California from his earliest years through his mother’s family, who settled in Redlands in the 1870s.

During the Great Depression, the family moved several times, spending much time in Redlands. Eventually they moved to South America where they lived principally in Cerro de Pasco, Peru, a mining center in the Andes situated at an elevation of more than 14,000 feet. At the age of 12, young David entered boarding school at Colegio Santa Rosa outside of Lima where he perfected his Spanish, which he delighted in speaking throughout his life. When he reached high school age, his parents remained in Peru and he moved to Los Angeles where he lived with family and family friends and attended University High School, from which he graduated in 1943.

Mr. Sanders began college studies at UCLA that were interrupted in 1944 when he enlisted in the Navy. He served as a radioman on the destroyer USS Waller, seeing action in the Pacific near the end of World War II. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he returned to Los Angeles and re-enrolled in UCLA where he met Mary Frances Finch of Los Angeles, and they married in February of 1948. While at UCLA, Mr. Sanders wrote for the Daily Bruin and earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees (1956). His first professorial appointment was at the University of Maryland in 1956, and he joined the faculty at Harvey Mudd in 1959, the second year of the college’s existence.

In 1970, he left Harvey Mudd to accept an appointment at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York where he was chair of the Department of Humanities for three years. In 1973, he returned to the faculty at Harvey Mudd to serve as chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. For more than two decades, he and Mrs. Sanders traveled to the North Country of New York to spend summers at the house they owned on Lake Ozonia in the Adirondacks.

At Harvey Mudd, he was the first to hold the Louisa and Robert Miller Professor of Humanities Chair, served a term as chair of the faculty and retired in 1991. Mr. Sanders published numerous articles on 20th century American authors and American humor from all periods. He wrote a book on the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author John Hersey that, late in Hersey’s life, was completely revised and reprinted in an expanded second edition. He also published a comprehensive bibliography of the works of the novelist John dos Passos, a contemporary of Hemingway.

Mr. Sanders had a lifelong passion for baseball and was the baseball editor for the Journal of Popular Culture. In 1966, he was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Salamanca in Spain where he lectured in Spanish on 20th century American literature. In 1985, he was an invited visiting professor at National Taiwan University in Taipei. Mr. Sanders was a member of the Audubon Society and an avid bird watcher who participated in numerous bird counts and other birding events in the Claremont and Carlsbad areas.

Mr. Sanders is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mary Frances; by their three children, Scott Sanders of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bonnie Hall of Carlsbad, California and Peter Sanders of Greenville, South Carolina; by six grandchildren, Jennifer, Susannah, Cory, Tristan, Madeline and Hope; and by three great-grandchildren, James, Ruby and Wolf.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the general scholarship fund of Harvey Mudd College, or to the American Cancer Society.

 

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