Memorial for Bill Sanderson in Sonoma on Aug. 18

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Bill Sanderson, a longtime oil and gas industry executive, died Aug. 4 following a massive stroke. He was 88.

A memorial service celebrating Sanderson’s life will be held on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church at 16290 Arnold Drive.

Sanderson and his wife of 56 years, Mabeth, have been known over the years for supporting many causes in Sonoma Valley, including Vintage House senior center and La Luz Center. He served on the board of directors of the Sonoma Valley Fund. The couple was also very active at St. Andrew Church.

“Bill was an experienced business man, was liked and a well-respected board member,” said Sonoma Valley Fund board chair Peg Van Camp. “Our community has lost a valued voice.”

Sanderson was born and raised on a farm in Gaines County, Texas. He got his hands dirty in a plethora of jobs - carpenter, pipe fitter and always farming the land his grandfather had given him.

In 1952, he was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corp. After basic training, Sanderson was stationed in Hawaii and later served in the Korean War. With help from the “GI Bill,” he returned to Texas Tech University in Lubbock and graduated cum laude in 1960 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. In 1960, he unsuccessfully ran for office as a Texas State Representative on the Democratic ticket.

After his graduation, he joined Shell Oil Company and worked for 21 years in various capacities in exploration and production, including a three years in Venezuela. In 1981, he joined Western Gas Resources as Vice President. He was later promoted to Senior Vice President and, in 1986, he was named as the President and Chief Operating Officer. He retired in 1996 but continued to invest in and manage oil projects until his death.

After retiring, Sanderson returned to farming and moved full time to Sonoma in 1996 to be closer to his children who were living in the Bay Area.

In Sonoma, the Sandersons lived on a large property on Thornsberry Road, where Sanderson fulfilled a life-long dream to plant a vineyard and start a winery – Madrone Ridge. He loved to fish and had just returned from a five-day fishing trip in Alaska, according to Mabeth.

“Bill loved living here,” said Mabeth. “He was thrilled with our life in Sonoma, with having his children and grandchildren close by and with our friends who are so special to us.”

Sanderson was “well known and well loved by everybody who knew him,” said family friend Betty Ann Bruno.

Sanderson is survived by Mabeth, his son Doak, daughter-in-law Seon Joo, son-in-law Chris Garlington, grandchildren Neil Sanderson and Claire and Will Garlington. He was predeceased by his son Scott and his daughter Sarah.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Sonoma Valley Fund. A reception will be held in the Fellowship Hall immediately following the service on Aug. 18.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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