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"First Lady Emeritus" of Bethel Baptist Church

Mrs. Rubye Lee Corry Sanders, 87, of 1909 West Buford Street, Gaffney, S.C., widow of Reverend Dr. James W. Sanders, Sr., peacefully transitioned into eternal rest on Saturday night, February 18, 2017, at Spartanburg Regional Hospital.

Daughter of the late Nathaniel Corry and the late Bessie Hemphill Corry, she was born on January 17, 1930, in Gaffney, South Carolina. In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by her daughter, Mrs. Ruzlin S. Smith, and her sister, Mrs. Rosa C. Ellis.

She attended the Cherokee County public schools and graduated from Granard High School with honors. She was a hard worker. Her first priority in life was to become a teacher so that she could help young people reach their highest potential. Mrs. Sanders received both her Bachelor of Science Degree in English/Biological Science in 1950 and her Master of Science Degree in 1962 from Agricultural and Technical University, Greensboro, N.C. While matriculating at A & T, she participated in many activities and was crowned "Miss Homecoming" in 1950. Also, she completed further studies at Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., Benedict College, Columbia, S.C. and attended many educational workshops.

First and foremost, Mrs. Sanders was known as a strong, dedicated, committed and faithful Christian worker and First Lady. Extremely active at Bethel Baptist Church from her early days, she walked to both Limestone Missionary Baptist Church and Bethel Baptist Church with her friends namely: Annie Lois and Mary Beard. For more than 40 years she was Director of the Young Adult Choir along with her cousin Mary Ann Wilkins. She was the Advisor of the Primary and Junior Usher Boards, member of the Sanders Mixed Chorus, Past President of the Lillian Spears Missionary Circle, Past President of the General Missionary and Advisor of Bethel's Deaconess Ministry. She enjoyed working in the kitchen, decorating the church for holidays, changing the outdoor bulletin boards and working with the Bethel Senior Day Care Center, Inc. Whatever needed to be done at Bethel, Mrs. Sanders always came to the rescue. In 2011, she was named "First Lady Emeritus of Bethel Baptist Church."

Her first work assignment was at her Alma Mater, Granard High School. She taught English and Biology, directed the activities for holidays and coached the girls' basketball team for seventeen years winning several state championships during this time. Upon being transferred to Blacksburg High School in 1968, she taught English and Reading. Mrs. Sanders taught 36 years with five years in Adult Education until her retirement in 1990.

Mrs. Sanders strived for better human relations at Blacksburg High. As advisor of the Student Council, she worked to help bring about better rapport among students, as well as, among teachers and students. Many hours were spent to ease tensions between the races and to bridge the generation gap.

A few of Mrs. Sanders' professional, business, political and community affiliations were: member of the United Teaching Profession, Board Member of the American Cancer Society, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., County Supervisor of the Thickety Mountain Baptist Association Junior Missionaries comprised of 24 Baptist Churches for over 48 years and in 2016 she was named "Junior Supervisor Emeritus." She was a Charter member of the Ladies Progressive Club where she served as President for three terms and her last position was serving as secretary, Chairperson for the South Carolina Peach Festival Parade for five years, former Executive Committee Chairperson of the Cherokee County Democratic Party, including Pleasant Meadows precinct manager, Past Deputy and Illustrious Commandress Tamin Court #122, Daughters of Isis. She was chosen to be the Advisor of Friends To The End Organization in Blacksburg, S.C., an organization which helped the youth in our schools, especially at Blacksburg High School to improve their intelligence, to help create a desire to attend college and other institutions of higher learning. She also served as chairperson of the Woman's E & M Baptist Convention of South Carolina Life Membership Committee. She was recognized by the Woman's Baptist E & M Convention of South Carolina for her outstanding and relentless service. She was the recipient of the Cherokee County Education Association Human Relations Award in 1975, the Cherokee County School District Mentor Program Award in 1995- 1999, the Academic Achievement Award for "Outstanding Teacher" as selected by the students and presented by the Gaffney Chamber of Commerce in 1988-89, the Leadership and Guidance Award from the Young Adult Choir of the Bethel Baptist Church for 35 years, and plaques for public speaking in churches and organizations in North and South Carolina. She was inducted into the Cherokee County NAACP Hall of Fame in 2013.

It has been said of Mrs. Sanders that her endeavors while not ostentatious, had been a solidifying force in the community. Her knowledge of human behavior, her quiet and unassuming manner, and her congenial personality gave her the needed qualities to relate and counsel those who were least equipped to deal with day to day problems.

At an early age she joined Limestone Missionary Baptist Church and after her marriage to Reverend Dr. J.W. Sanders, Sr., the Pastor of Bethel Baptist, she joined Bethel Baptist. Reverend Dr. Sanders, Sr. served as the Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church of Gaffney, S.C., for 61 1/2 years; Island Creek Baptist Church in Cowpens, S.C. for 38 1/2 years; and Moderator of the Thickety Mountain Baptist Association for 38 years, Bethel Baptist, Kelton, S.C.; and Seekwell Baptist, Whitmire for several years where they continued to be in ministry together as Pastor and First Lady. To this union were born three children: Jewette S. Patterson (Roger, Sr.), Reverend Dr. James W. Sanders, Jr. and the late Ruzlin S. Smith (Leroy, Sr.). She was the proud grandmother of three boys, Phillip Lee McHam, Jr., Roy Lee Smith and William Sanders Smith; and one great grandson Ziyon M. Harris; one aunt, Gwendolyn Hemphill; a special nephew, Frederick Ellis (Phyllis); two goddaughters, Angela Dawkins and DySheka Smith; and two god-sons, Darrell Douglas and Watson Armstrong; extended family, Brad and Mary Lucas of Greenville, S.C., James and Vicky Saunders, Farmville, N.C., the Zimmerman Family, Brice Family of Maryland, Bull / Humphries Families, a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and close friends.

Many people called her a workaholic. She was always helping others and sharing ideas as well as serving on boards in the county and state of S.C.

Mrs. Sanders was a renowned, national and international traveled throughout the U.S.A. and several European countries.

Her retirement years found Mrs. Sanders enjoying exercising while walking her beloved dog "Prince' as well as actively involved in church and educational projects. Her works speak loudly for her. Apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

Mrs. Sanders was a fighter, a finisher, and a faithful believer in the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ. In her own words, "I am on the battlefield for the Lord." Well done thy good and faithful servant, Mrs. Rubye Corry Sanders.

Public viewing will be held from 6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, at Bethel Baptist Church. A brief Memorial Service will be held following the public viewing at 7 p. m. - 7:30 p.m. at Bethel Baptist Church.

Celebration Services will be held on Thursday, March 2, 2017, at 2 p.m. at Bethel Baptist Church Gaffney, South Carolina, conducted by her Pastor and son, Reverend Dr. J. W. Sanders, Jr., along with various ministers and other state and national dignitaries. The body will lie in state from 12 noon until 1:15 p.m. Entombment at Oakland Cemetery will be held privately at a later date.

The Sanders Family will receive friends at the official family residence, 1909 West Buford Street on Monday and Tuesday, February 27-28 from 4 - 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in honor of the Dr. J. W. Sanders, Sr. and Rubye C. Sanders Foundation for the Third Annual 2017 Summer Robotics Camp. Please make checks payable to: Bethel Baptist Church Summer Robotics Camp.

Services are entrusted to The Foster Funeral Home - Gaffney, S.C., assisted by The J. W. Woodward Funeral Home and The First Family Funeral Home - Spartanburg, S.C.

Mrs. Rubye Corry Sanders
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  • Monday, February 27, 2017
    Our staff will continue to keep your family in our prayers. We thank you for allowing us to serve your family.
    ~ J.W Woodward FH
  • Thursday, March 02, 2017
    May your memories sustain you during this difficult time. I wish for you God's consoling blessings.
    ~ Lillie R. Edwards   Gaffney, SC