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Ellis Leon Sanders was born at the dawn of the Great Depression in Warrior, Alabama. He was raised by a single father, who was devoted to his work running a hardware and appliance store as well as rental properties. His childhood was largely unsupervised, but he had many fun-loving friends and worked hard helping his dad. During his adolescence he enjoyed fast cars, cigars, his motorcycle, and was more prone to spend time in the pool hall rather than study hall. He recalled the day he decided he was done helping milk cows and proudly stated that he stopped and never milked one again. He played first base on the baseball team, point guard on the basketball team, and running back on the football team, of which he was captain one year. His mentor at Mortimer Jordan High School, Coach Bartow Hughes, taught Leon leadership skills and responsibility, and even recruited him to drive the team bus. He met and fell in love with Bobbe Henry, of Bessemer, a very polished and ambitious head cheerleader, who decided she would try to tame Leon. They were married August 26, 1949 and moved to Birmingham where Leon enrolled at Samford University. They soon had their children Teresa, Karen, and Rance. After graduating, Leon's professional career began with Lawyers Title Insurance Co, in Birmingham, where he decided he was truly a "title man". He began taking night classes at Birmingham School of Law while working full time during the day. He found a way to juggle classes, study, work, and family. He graduated in 1966, passed the Alabama State Bar, and founded a new company, Jefferson Title Corporation, along with investment partner Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company. While serving as President and CEO, Leon gained real fulfillment in his work at Jefferson Title Company, which he started with just 2 or 3 employees and grew into an entire building. He ran the company with tenacity, long hours, service dedication, and good judgment for hiring excellent people. He was an innovator and had a talent at helping people grow and push beyond their perceived limitations. He was passionate about providing excellent service and he experienced genuine joy from working with outstanding men and women. In 1985 Leon was honored as Dixie Land Title Association Title Person of the Year, having served as its president in 1980. Jefferson Title prospered for over half a century. Beyond his business accomplishments, he was also known as, "a wonderful mentor to all who worked for him", as the family was recently told by one of his long-time employees. While being a hard-working businessman, he was also a devoted family man. He took his family on many vacations including lake camping trips, where he would prepare the boat, set up the heavy tent and bunkbeds, teach the children to water ski, and tell ghost stories around the campfire. He never missed his children's sporting events, he taught them to golf, made time for eating breakfast and dinner with his family, and was always available to talk. Some of his favorite past times were hunting, fishing, University of Alabama football, golf (shot his age at 83), traveling in his van with his wife and friends all over the country to golf, grilling steaks while listening to Braves games, gardening flowers and vegetables, shooting pool with his young son while listening to Jimmy Buffett and Jim Croce, even though he preferred George Jones, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard. He had an affinity for Birmingham School of Law students, who he taught as a professor there. In recent years, he was known for taking his beloved English retriever, Winston, on car rides twice a day through Oneonta in their van. He was a member of Lester Memorial Methodist Church, The Club, Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity, Limestone Springs Golf Club, Alabama State Bar, and the Birmingham Bar Association. Leon was a board member and advisor to The Sanders Trust, a national medical real estate company. Leon is preceded in death by his father, Collier Sanders, stepmom, Mozelle Sanders, daughter, Teresa Sanders, and grandson, Brooks Sanders. He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Bobbe Sanders, daughter, Karen Sanders, son, Rance Sanders, daughter-in-law Angie Sanders, granddaughter Casey Sandkuhl (Simeon) and great-grandchildren Hanna and Tyler Brooks Sandkuhl. He told family that he had peace about death, as he is a child of God, and looked forward to living an eternity with God in heaven. He will be remembered by colleagues, employees, friends, family, and even competitors as a gentle, kind soul with an authentic spirit. A friend recently remarked that he was a "gracious prince of a man". The service will be held at Lester Memorial United Methodist in Oneonta, Monday July 25th at 11:00am, with a private burial at Jefferson Memorial in Trussville. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Leon's honor to Blount County Children's Center or Lester Memorial United Methodist Church.
Monday, July 25, 2022
Starts at 11:00am
Lester United Methodist Church
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