County leaders react to the passing of Rev. Louis Sanders

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Statement from Rockland County Executive Ed Day on the Passing of Rev. Louis Sanders:

“Reverend Louis Sanders was a fixture of Rockland County serving on numerous boards and organizations and making his presence felt. Rev. Sanders well deserving of the recognition he received having been presented with the Rockland County Buffalo Soldiers Award in 2014 and being inducted into the Rockland County Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2009. His leadership, as Senior Pastor of the St. Charles A.M.E. Zion Church in Sparkill, was noted for how he raised up those around him and saw the potential of each and every person. I ask that we all keep Rev. Sanders in our thoughts and prayers and work as he did, serving his community with respect and empathy.”

Statement By Rockland County Legislator Toney L. Earl on the Passing of Rev. Dr. Louis Sanders:

“For the second time this week, I am devastated to learn of the passing of a true stalwart of Rockland County – the Rev. Louis Sanders. I knew Rev. Sanders since the 1970s, when our wives were at nursing school together.

“I am humbled by his impressive resume because everything Rev. Sanders did was to help others. He not only served the people of Rockland County, but hurricane victims in Mississippi and struggling poor families in Africa.

“Rev. Sanders also served our country as a U.S. Air Force chaplain. He fought against racial segregation and he fought for human and civil rights. He did so much for so many and it’s a deep loss for all he knew.”

Legislator Earl recognized Rev. Sanders for his many contributions and achievements in 2017, when he presented the reverend with a Distinguished Service Award, the Legislature’s highest honor. Rev. Sanders was inducted into the Rockland County Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2009, and his portrait is on permanent display in the Allison-Parris County Office Building in New City.

Rev. Sanders served as pastor of the St. Charles African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Sparkill for nearly four decades. He was a retired Social Studies teacher and championship basketball coach. At St. Charles, he increased the church’s membership, renovated the sanctuary and steered the construction of a $1 million fellowship hall. He was ordained in 1975 after studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Under Rev. Sanders’ direction, St. Charles became a place of community, with an SAT tutoring program, a homeless youth program, a cultural awareness program for children of color, and an on-site HIV and AIDS testing and education program.

Rev. Sanders’ service extended to the military and as a U.S. Air Force chaplain, he helped train other military chaplains for service in Desert Storm. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2003. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Rev. Sanders worked to collect truckloads of supplies for families in hard-hit Jackson, Mississippi. Under his leadership, St. Charles also helped many of the impacted families to find housing and to pay their rent for a year.

His international mission work included building churches in the Republic of Ghana. He also helped provide scholarships to enable poor youth in Ghana to attend school. Rev. Sanders grew up during the days of segregation and fought against racial discrimination as part of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and for the remainder of his life. Rev. Louis and Connie Sanders were married for more than 50 years. They have three children and several grandchildren and had retired to Virginia.

Reverend Sanders photo is on display at the Rockland County Civil Rights Hall of Fame in the Allison-Parris Office Building, 11 New Hempstead Road, New City, NY.