William Joseph Sanders, Jr.

Born: June 17, 1939
Died: March 21, 2018

William J. Sanders, Jr. was born in Chicago and grew up in Springfield, Mass., and in Hartford. He was the son of William J. Sanders (Yale, B.A. 1928; Ph.D. 1935) and Eleanor Elizabeth Goode Sanders. His father’s career was in education culminating in service as Commissioner of Education for the state of Connecticut from 1956 until 1973. Bill was to follow his father’s footsteps into education as a teacher and school principal.

Bill’s high school education was at Classical High in Springfield, Mass., and the Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn., where he was a 3-sport athlete. He was with our class freshman year, 1958-59. He was a resident of Bingham Hall. He earned his numerals with the freshman football team.

Bill took a year off and then attended Fairfield University from which he graduated in 1963. He earned a Masters in Education from Columbia University Teachers College in 1964 and his Ph.D. in education from the University of Connecticut in 1974.

Bill began his career teaching Social Studies at James Fennimore Cooper Junior High in New York City, and went on to teach at Hartford Public High School and later became principal of Sage Park Middle School in Windsor, where he served for 29 years. He was the well-known “Prince of Pals” to his students, beloved by his students and teachers alike.

Following retirement, Bill traveled the world with his beloved wife, Pat, but was happiest at their home in Branford, watching the sun set over the Long Island Sound, hosting scores of family and friends for a barbeque, or fishing with his grandson Chris. Bill and Chris had an extraordinary relationship and even since Chris went off to college last Fall, they maintained almost daily contact, sharing a love of history sports, politics and above all, family.

Even though he had retired Bill could not resist the call of teaching. For about 9 years he assisted at Central Connecticut State University by surveying and guiding student teachers enrolled in the education programs.

Bill married Patricia (Patty) Backiewicz in 1964. She also had a career in education, serving first as Vice President and then President of Post University in Waterbury for many years. Bill and Patty had 3 children, William J. Sanders, III, (wife Ruby) who resides in Tubac, Arizona; Elizabeth Pang (husband Lan) who resides in West Hartford; and Suzanne Meredith (husband Bill) also of West Hartford. In addition to his wife Patty and their children Bill is survived by grandson Christopher Y. Pang, now a college student in Rhode Island. He is also survived by his 3 sisters, Patricia Behan of Madison, Connecticut; Eleanor Sheehy of Woodbridge, Connecticut; and Roberta Roepke of Seattle.

Bill was buried in St. Lawrence Cemetery not far from the Yale football field on which he competed as a freshman. The family requested that in lieu of flowers memorial gits be directed to The William J. Sanders, Jr. Memorial Scholarship at Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut.

Robert G. Oliver