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Summary of a Lifetime
by Herman Sanders

Born February 3, 1914 ~ Died September 9, 2006

My father, Henry Louis, was a 5th grade dropout. He fully expressed his idea that this was enough education for anyone. My mother was a schoolteacher and wanted all the children in the family to be educated to the fullest. My oldest sister died before my birth at age eleven months of “locked bowels” — so the witchdoctor (country practitioner) diagnosed. I had diphtheria before the age of one and was lucky to survive. My earliest impressions came from the old man who adopted and raised my mother; Uncle Bill’s love of nature and his faith in God influenced me all of my life.

I was valedictorian of my elementary class in 1928 and of my high school class in 1932 at McAdams School. I endured the usual discrimination that occurs because of scholastic ability. After high school I worked my way for one and a half years at the “junior college” in Goodman. The teachers at the “junior college” were really high school teachers with an attitude. Governor Conner, a friend of the family, ordered Ole Miss to give me a scholarship. I graduated from Ole Miss with honor in 1936 and applied to Columbia University for a medical scholarship. I was accepted until my Goodman record was discovered.

I taught high school math at Ackerman and coached athletics. My team was successful in football, being Choctaw Conference champion runner-up for two years. I was selected by Perkinston Junior College to be head football coach. Ackerman School Board refused to release me from my contract. I taught one year at West, Mississippi, where I met Rosemary Cagle and fell in love and eventually married her when she was 18 years old.

I spent a year in seminary in New Orleans and found out that I was not a fundamentalist. This in no way hindered my faith but it did hinder my working in the church.

I spent one year at Gulfport High School. I enjoyed sailing with a student friend and learned to appreciate classical music with another student friend. I cut my “classical teeth” on Beethoven’s “Sixth Symphony.”

During World War II in 1942 I taught Army Air Force flight radio operators. In spring of 1943 I taught the first female radio operators for United Airlines. We were living in Oakland, California, when I began duty as flight radio operation for Army Air Force transport command. On the day my first daughter, Mary, was born, I was ordered to Puerto Rico and was gone two weeks. I flew domestic then transferred to Seattle and flew to Alaska about 30 times. During this time Rosemary went home to Mississippi to have our second daughter, Susan. I was transferred to San Francisco for flights across the Pacific Ocean. On one of these trips I met my brother-in-law, Wally Parker, on Guadalcanal. My last trips in service were three trips to Tokyo from Okinawa for the occupation; then I was released from service. In all, I logged 4000 hours of transport flight during that phase of my military career.

After service, my family and I came back to the farm in Attala County, Mississippi. I built our house myself in 1946 and began teaching and coaching at Sallis High School. One of my football teams won the BB State Championship. I changed to McAdams in 1948 and taught histories, sciences, whatever was needed. I changed to Holmes Junior College in 1961 where I taught chemistry until my retirement in 1979.

I continued my education for many summers. I attended the University of Mississippi and earned a Master’s Degree in combined sciences in 1962. I did dissertation research at University of Mississippi, Auburn University and Louisiana State University. I published results on dipole moments, dielectric constants, equilibrium constants, infrared analysis, radiation polymerization, and kaolin analysis.

Through the years I did other things besides teach and go to school. I tried row crop cotton to no avail. I raised 100,000 broilers a year for four years. There was enough profit to pay for the houses and equipment before the market failed. I learned how to propagate catfish one summer at Auburn University. Catfish required too much time and I didn’t have reliable help, but I did have 30 acres under water. Pine timber growing has been successful. I worked and planned for twenty years before leasing 680 acres of timber to Georgia Pacific on a 30-year lease at a good profit and income. I also had an additional 125 acres of timber, which were not leased, but have since been sold to my daughter Linda.

My hobbies include hunting, fishing, listening to classical music, and learning about scientific advances.

My hopes are nothing more for myself but for the future of my wife and children. The garden, orchard, lakes, timber, hunting and dogs are sufficient for me.

My greatest disappointments are 1) a lot of money spent on my children for non-productive things; 2) too many students that I was unable to motivate; and 3) my inability to communicate with people in the Baptist Church because of their deficiency in reasoning ability. I cannot make many understand that the will of God covers only two things. God’s work is done entirely by the laws of nature and by people acting in love for other people. Nothing magic or supernatural exists.

My favorite quote comes from a statement that paid for a trip for Mary and me to the World Conference on the Atom in 1960. “The more I learn about the laws of nature, the better I understand my Creator.” The increase of my scientific knowledge has always given me great satisfaction, yet it has been handed on to so few.

There have been some bright spots – my military experience, incidents and people in school, close friends, events with such a low probability as to be classified as miracles (not magic). Life from ox cart to space exploration has occurred on my watch. These things are too numerous to tell in anything short of a lifetime.

And best of all is the hope for the future life on earth. Beyond this life I am not worried about what will happen — I do not know; nor does anyone past or present know. The ones who claim to know are deceivers and have an ulterior motive. Whatever lies beyond, I leave to the Spirit of God. I trust Him while I live; so, I will trust Him hereafter!


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