October 6, 1925 – March 9, 2021
Wally Sanford, (only called Wallace by his mother and National Geographic), was born October 6, 1925, the second son of William and Annie Lee Sanford, in Los Angeles, California.
He grew up in Lima, Ohio, coming to Turlock at age sixteen. He ran track and was a yell leader at Turlock High School. He had longish-blonde hair and said he wouldn’t cut it until the football team won. He earned the nickname “Veronica” after screen star Veronica Lake of the day. Wally picked the first girl to be on the pep squad in the high school’s history. He graduated in 1943.
Wally met his future wife, Marion Nissen, at First Baptist Church of Turlock. Marion was a Turlock High graduate of 1944.
Wally enlisted in the US Navy during WWII. He was honorably discharged in May of 1946, earning the rank of Pharmacist’s Mate, Second Class. His main tour of duty was served in Okinawa.
Upon his return to Turlock, he attended Modesto Junior College for his AA degree. Wally and Marion were married in October of 1946 at First Baptist Church.
Wally attended Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina where he earned his BA in English Bible. He became the youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Turlock.
Wally got his teaching credential and taught sixth through eighth grades, beginning at Mitchell, Chatom, then Walter White and Mae Hensley in Ceres. His favorite subject to teach was history.
He worked at Snider Lumber and J and R Mobil Service Stations. When not teaching, he could be seen putting on roofs for Bergman Roofing. After his retirement from teaching, he worked at First Baptist Church and Sort-A-Almond.
Wally spent his life helping others, and got to put his craftsman and handyman gifts to work as a missionary for MGF (Missionary Gospel Fellowship). He helped missionaries far and near with construction projects as “Wally Helps”. He helped in local flood relief also. He had a true servant’s heart.
Besides being handy with a skill saw, Wally became an avid quilter, and a respected member of the Turlock Quilt Guild. He made many quilts for the wounded veterans, for Quilts of Honor and Quilts of Valor. Wally won the first ever Turlock “Mayor’s Award” for a patriotic quilt he’d sewn for a Navy comrade from WWII.
For all you MoBand (Modesto Band of Stanislaus County) fans, Wally will be sorely missed, as he held the big American flag in the audience each time “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was performed. The last time, at age 93, he still waved “Old Glory” proudly.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Marion, of 41 years; brother Melvin; and sister Yvonne (Dorothy).
Wally is survived by his daughters: Gloria Sanford of Turlock and Dawn (George) Gardner of Modesto. He also has two grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held Thursday, March 25th from 4pm to 7pm at Allen Mortuary. A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church of Turlock on Friday, March 26 at 10:00am followed by interment at Turlock Memorial Park.