by Deb Abraham Spalding and James Rada, Jr.
Photo by Richard L. Dougan, Jr.
When Raymond Sanders first came to Sabillasville, it was because his family was growing and they needed space to expand. They found a two-story home at the end of a dead-end road and set down roots.
“It’s a nice place to live”, Sanders said. “The dead end road was good for the children, and my wife’s father and stepmother lived nearby.”
His children started attend Sabillasville School when it was still in the building that is now Walkersville Christian Fellowship Church. At that time, local students up to grade six all fit into a four room school. For high school, the students were bussed down the mountain to Thurmont High.
“I didn’t worry about them going down to Thurmont,” Sanders said. “People were careful on the road, and there were no accidents.”
Sanders was born December 11, 1923, in Iron Springs, Pennsylvania. He is one of eight children to Lloyd and Ruth Gertrude Riley Sanders. His family moved to Fountaindale, Pennsylvania, when he was six. From there, they would eventually move to Charmain, Pennsylvania, and Highfield, Maryland.
Although his military service would take him far from Catoctin Mountain, all of his homes are no more than a 10-mile round trip.
“I’ve been working since the time I was twelve,” Sanders said.
His early work was with Mr. Leisinger on a huckster truck hauling and selling vegetables, but he has also been a fruit picker, worked at the pipe and nipple factory, Landis Machine, and Frick Company. His longest lasting job was as a heavy engineer equipment mechanic at Fort Ritchie. He worked there for 22 years, retiring in 1975 because off a back injury. He said, “They wouldn’t give me another job and I couldn’t work anymore because I couldn’t pull wrenches.”
Instead, he wound up retiring at age 52. He was also a member of the Maryland National Guard and was able to continue his service for five more years before he needed to retire from that as well. Together, his service in the National Guard and in the Army, Sanders served 33 years in the military.
Sanders is also a Veteran of World War II. He was never drafted. His son, Larry, explained. “He didn’t get called up for the draft while his friends and brothers were being called. His mom took him to Hagerstown to ask why and they couldn’t find his records. Turns out he was in the dead file – they would never have called him up.”
He enlisted in the Army on March 18, 1943, and trained with the 8th Armored Division. However, when he shipped out to Europe, he was sent as part of the green troops, being sent to replace the soldiers who were dying in the war. Once in Europe, though, he never saw combat. “I was close to being called up a couple of times, but it never happened,” said Sanders.
He mustered out after three years and returned home, which at the time, was in Highfield. About his service, he said, “It has done me a wonderful good.”
The following year, he “really met” Betty Jane Fox. He had first met her when she was 10 and he was 15, but that was just in passing because he was friends with the boys in her family.
Sanders was in Waynesboro one time with Betty Jane’s uncle, when her uncle tried to convince Sanders to come to Frederick with him to a dance. Sanders wanted to go, but said he didn’t have a date. Betty Jane’s uncle then fixed her up with Sanders and the two hit it off. They were married on September 13, 1947.
Together, they raised seven children (Debbie, Rita, Becky, Larry, Mary, David, and Jim), and one grandson (Jeffrey). They also have 12 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild, 2 step-grandchildren, 5 step-great-grandchildren, and 5 step-great-great-grandchildren.
“When we had family picnics, we would have 45 to 80 people show up,” Sanders said.
Raymond tells a humorous story about delivering a bowling ball to his grandson, Jeffrey, who was stationed in Germany while in the military. Jeffrey told Raymond that he could bowl a better game if he had his own bowling ball from home. Raymond hopped a military transport plane in Dover, Delaware, and flew to Jeffrey with the bowling ball. Raymond said, “Oh, he was surprised!”
Raymond has always enjoyed living in Sabillasville and says that he has pretty much anything he might need nearby. He attends church at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Blue Ridge Summit. He belongs to the Cascade American Legion, Waynesboro VFW, and Knights of Columbus.
“I think we have the nicest people that any community could have up here,” expressed Sanders. “They make great neighbors.”
Betty Jane passed away in 2016, and while Sanders now lives alone, he still has plenty of family looking out for him and plenty of memories.
He clearly remembers, “I have a good family and I’ve had a good life!”
Raymond was honored at a recent Veteran’s event at the Cascade American Legion where he was a founding member. Following his military service in addition to Jeffrey, mentioned above, are three grandchildren who are also war Veterans. Raymond was the recipient of the Legionaires Award at the Veteran’s Day event at the Cascade American Legion