Mary Eileen Sanders, 97, passed to her reward on Sunday, September 9, 2012, two years to the day after entering the Cassville Care Center. Eileen had live a long productive life of service to her family, God, her church, and community.
She is survived by her children: Nola Ruth (Jerry) McMillen, Stella; Richard (Connie) Sanders, Raymore; Alice (Larry) Purdom, Purdy; five grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter; one sister-in-law, Mary Lee Sanders; one brother-in-law, Emory Melton; and several nephews and nieces. She was preceded in death by her husband, her parents and step-mother Glenn; her four sisters, Clara, Lora, Jewell, and Eula Mae; and most of her 75 cousins.
Eileen was born June 12, 1915, near Leann, Mo., the second of five daughters born to George Albert Thomas and Nola Mae Wiley Thomas. She attended grade school at Leann and her first year of high school at Jenkins Jobe High School. After the death of her mother, her father moved his family to Cassville to work for his sister, the county treasurer.
Eileen graduated with the 1933 class of Cassville and received a scholarship to Joplin Business College. After finishing college, she worked for the Barry County Hospital for Drs. George Newman and Poor. Later, she worked as deputy circuit clerk in the Barry County Courthouse and continued there until shortly after marrying in 1938.
On July 23, 1938, she and Chester Sanders of Shell Knob were married at the home of her cousin, Aubrey Thomas and his new wife Eunice. Eileen and Chester lived and farmed in the Shell Knob/Viola area until buying a farm near Wheaton in 1949. They organized the first 4-H club and extension homemakers club in the Wheaton area and actively supported the university extension council and service. On June 24, 1983, Chester was killed in a tractor accident and shortly after, Eileen moved to Wheaton but continued to spend much time working at their farm.
Becoming even more active in her church (the Wheaton Church of Christ) and community, Eileen trained as a Laubach reading tutor, teaching adults to read, and volunteer tutored at the Cassville AEL/GED class in the late 1990s, served on the Area for Aging Council, delivered Meals on Wheels until she was 87, and visited and chauffeured "old" people. She was an original member of the South Barry County Hospital (now Mercy) board, serving for 24 years.
At age 90, she broke her first hip playing hopscotch with her great-granddaughter, Heather; this ended her driving and living alone, but she continued to care and serve others.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Fair Haven Children's Home in care of the funeral home or to the charity of one's choice.
Services will be held Friday, September 14, 2012, at 11 a.m. at the Wheaton Church of Christ with visitation Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the McQueen Funeral Home, Wheaton.
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McQUEEN FUNERAL HOME