Johnny A. “Coach” Sanders, loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend peacefully went to be with the Lord on Saturday, May 21st, 2022. He was 84 years old.
Johnny was born on October 21st, 1937, to parents Walter Leon and Flossie Mae Sanders. A native of Phenix City, Alabama, he attended Central High School. While at Central, he was involved in multiple student organizations, including the theatrical club, where he starred in musical productions; however his passion was football. Before graduating, he received numerous awards for his performance on the field and was named to the 1955 National High School All America Football team.
Johnny’s football career continued into his collegiate years. He was recruited by Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant but ultimately chose to attend Troy State University where he played for 4 years. While there, he met and married his wife of 59 years, Melinda Wilson. He went on to graduate from Troy State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Education and a Master's Degree in Counseling.
After graduation, he began his career in education. His love for football continued well after his time on the field. He coached for 26 years across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. During his tenure coaching, he was instrumental in establishing several Fellowship of Christian Athletes organizations and was named “Coach of the Year” on multiple occasions; though he was most proud of the lives he helped shape. Coach Sanders commitment was to his students; he taught them discipline, dedication, but most importantly to have pride in themselves. In 2006, he was presented with the Ariton High School “Football Legend” award, which was a true testament to the devotion he had for students.
Coach Sanders retired in 1988 and began his next chapter of coaching, but this time he was called “Granddaddy”. After retirement he traveled, played in the Senior Men's Softball League (where he represented the State of Alabama at the Senior World Series), and published his first book “Come What May, Colby Grey”. His remaining years were dedicated to spending time with those he loved most, cheering on his 3 grandchildren, and instilling his love for football in them. He remained an avid Alabama fan, forever.
Johnny was welcomed to heaven by the love of his life, Melinda Wilson Sanders; parents Walter Leon and Flossie Mae Sanders; along with numerous relatives and friends.
He is survived by his children, Melanie S. Cacioppo of Gulf Shores, AL, Chris (Tammy) Sanders of Troy, AL; grandchildren, Shayna Turner, Blake (Jasmine) Sanders, Parker (Kayla) Sanders; 5 great-grandchildren; brother Arthur Lee (Joann) Sanders; countless friends and relatives.
The family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support received during this difficult time. A Celebration of Life will be held in late October. They request that you visit www.postable.com/shaynaturner and leave your contact information so plans can be communicated.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations be made to Alzheimer's Association - Alabama Chapter (https://www.alz.org/al/about_us/contact_us). They’d also like to express their gratitude to Comfort Care Hospice for the support and compassionate care given to Johnny during his final months.