Ruth Dugger Sanders, age 95, a life-long resident of Newport News, died peacefully surrounded by her loving family on 7 March, 2018 after a stroke. She was preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, Gordon L. Sanders. Ruth was the daughter of Eugene F. Dugger and Ruth Manville Dugger and grew up at Merrie Oaks in Lee Hall where her father was Director of the Newport News Waterworks. She graduated from Newport News High School in 1940 and from Longwood University in 1944 with a double major in Physical Education and Biology. She met Gordon, the love of her life, in Clewiston, Florida where she was teaching school and he was training RAF and US pilots during World War II. They were married in 1946 and started their life together in Newport News living in Stuart Gardens, Hidenwood and Windward Towers.
Ruth is survived by her daughters Mary Ruth Coleman (Dick) and Carol Cobb (Phil), four grandchildren, John Coleman (Lindsay), David Coleman (Carrie), Maggie Cobb and Mark Cobb (Michaela) and nine great-grandchildren, Emma, Owen, Abigail, and William Coleman (John); James, Oliver, and Teddy Coleman (David); and Sophia and Noah Cobb (Mark). She has been described as a magical mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, always ready for fun and adventure. Ruth cared deeply for everyone she met and her greatest joy was her family who she supported, encouraged and loved until her last day.
Mrs. Sanders was a deeply religious person whose faith was unshakeable. She was a member from birth of First Presbyterian Church of Newport News where she served as a Sunday School teacher, Deacon, Elder, President of the Women of the Church, Circle Chairman and in many other capacities in the life and work of the church. She was most recently a member of Wythe Presbyterian Church where she remained active until she could no longer attend.
Mrs. Sanders was a Physical Education Educator for the Newport News School System from 1956-1971. She was the head of the PE departments at Newport News and Ferguson High Schools. She coached tennis, gymnastics, volleyball, field hockey, and basketball and could not go anywhere on the Peninsula without meeting someone who said “you taught me,” including the doctor in the Emergency Room at Riverside Hospital shortly before she died. Her legacy and influence lives on in many of her students and in the friends of her daughters.
Ruthie was an avid sports-woman playing competitive golf and tennis until her mid-eighties. She was a member of the James River Country Club and is a former President of the Women’s Golf Association.
Giving back to her community was very important to Mrs. Sanders. She was a volunteer with the Red Cross, Link, Food Bank, Riverside Hospital and Contact Peninsula and past Regent of the Newport News/Warwick Chapter of DAR.
The family wishes to thank the dedicated staff at Keswick Assisted Living, Warwick Forest Retirement Community, who provided our wonderful Mother with loving care and friendship during the final years of her life.
A Memorial Service will be held at Burton Hall, Keswick Assisted Living, Warwick Forest Retirement Community on Tuesday, March 20 at 1:30 pm with a reception to follow. Valet parking will be available at the front door of Keswick Assisted Living.
Memorial contributions may be made to Wythe Presbyterian Church or Riverside Hospice.