Cover photo for Edgar Lewis Sanford's Obituary
Edgar Lewis Sanford Profile Photo
1924 Edgar 2019

Edgar Lewis Sanford

May 4, 1924 — October 6, 2019

Edgar Lewis (Ted) Sanford, 1924-2019.

After more than three and a half billion beats over his lifetime, Ted's heart stopped on October 6, 2019. He passed away in his sleep at his apartment on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He was never in significant pain and he was lucid until the end. He "died of old age."

Born in China of missionary parents, Ted grew up in Moorestown, NJ, attended the public schools there, and, as a senior, was elected President of the Student Government. His father, Edgar L. Sanford 2d, was Rector of the Episcopal Church. His mother, Agnes, was a noted author and lecturer.

In high school, Ted and his brother were taught surveying by an uncle. They both became chiefs of party and ended up surveying the swamps of central Florida.

Ted attended the University of the South, Sewanee, TN. With World War II in progress, he enlisted in the Navy after his freshman year, was returned to Sewanee for another year, went to midshipman's school at Notre Dame and was commissioned as an ensign. Ted completed the training for Scouts and Raiders (an early precursor to the Navy SEALS), but was then transferred to Naval Intelligence and was en route to Calcutta, India as part of SACO (Sino-American Cooperative Organization) to link up with Chinese guerrillas when the war ended. To keep busy in Calcutta, he persuaded the chief of the Navy's motor pool there to take him on as a truck driver and he drove all over the city, kindling an interest in underdeveloped countries which stayed with him. He finished his Navy career with six months as a staff officer at the Fleet Recreation Center in Sasebo, Japan.

Ted graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, BA 1947, where he lettered in lightweight football, and Yale Law School, LLB 1951. He practiced briefly with the late Wendell Willkie's firm on Wall Street, found that lawyering was not his cup of tea and, as he put it, "for the good of the legal profession" turned to teaching. Meanwhile he married Diana Mitchell, of Buffalo and Smith College, who was ever after his loved one, best friend and companion. They had three children who gave them much-loved in-laws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Timothy, an attorney in Mammoth Lakes, CA (Dianna - Adam and Seth; Jackson, Cole and Lucas); Wendy, a psychotherapist and artist in Wenatchee (Neal Hedges - Zoe and Colin; Tara, Braden and Neva); and Lindsay, a software development manager on Bainbridge Island (Cathy - Nicole and Connor).

Ted taught and coached at several eastern private schools meanwhile earning his M.Ed. at Columbia University Teachers College. From 1959-69, he served as the almost-first Headmaster of the newly founded Charles Wright Academy, in Tacoma, during which time, adding a grade or two each year, the school grew from K-4 and 76 students in a converted warehouse to 320 students in all grades on a lovely campus. In the school's first year with a senior class, all its graduates were accepted by selective admissions colleges - and the football team, playing public schools, lost only one game! Charles Wright subsequently created the "Ted Sanford Art Gallery" in his honor.

Ted left Charles Wright after ten years and was appointed head of Thacher School, Ojai, CA, where he remained until 1976. The school had been adversely affected by the sort of Vietnam era unrest more often associated with universities and Ted's charge was to restore order and morale. During his tenure annual giving was almost doubled, new facilities were built, and enrollment increased 20 percent. While there Ted loved participating in Thacher's camping and horse programs.

After a year long sabbatical Ted accepted the appointment as Head of Ft. Worth Country Day School in Texas, where he served for eleven good years. During his tenure enrollment increased from 670 to 902, median faculty salary more than tripled to rank within the top 5% of independent schools, and numerous additions to the campus were built; including a Fine Arts Center which the trustees named for him when he retired.

After "retiring" Ted was a consultant for 2 1/2 years with Independent School Management, Wilmington, DE and served interim Headships at Keith School, Rockford, IL and Evergreen School, Seattle. Meanwhile it had been Diana's turn to choose where to live their remaining years and, in 1989, they moved to Gig Harbor, WA.

Following retirement Ted was active in volunteer work at Remann Hall (a correctional institute) as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and, for many years, he taught groups of students at two public elementary schools as a volunteer. He organized and led the first formal fundraising program of a charitable organization ("FISH") in Gig Harbor, and he received two County "Volunteer of the Year" awards. He also kept busy painting (earning two first places in shows), hiking and, with Diana, taking a total of 26 trips to every continent except Antarctica.

Diana died unexpectedly in February, 2015. Ted found it most difficult to be without her after 65 years together.

Ted thought himself a political conservative during most of his working years, and voted for Presidents Nixon and Reagan. Then he began to wonder whether conservatism was the answer if the objective was the welfare of humanity as well as oneself. Seeking the answer, he read 65 books on politics, economics and the like plus innumerable shorter works. He emerged from his studies as a political progressive. He wrote 33 progressive articles as a guest columnist of the Peninsula Gateway as well as numerous letters to the editor of the Tacoma News Tribune. Working with colleagues in Seattle, he tried for several years to get Washington state to adopt a progressive income tax, Washington having the most regressive taxes of any state. He wanted to fund better schools for our children and a better life for most Washingtonians.

Ted will be greatly missed by family and friends alike.

Ted's final request was for no services or events.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Edgar Lewis Sanford, please visit our flower store.


Photo Gallery

Visits: 2

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree