James Dennis Sanford, Jr.

22 September 1946 - 3 March 2024

Under: Obituary
James Dennis Sanford, Jr.

James Dennis Sanford, Jr. (77), of Lucas, Texas, departed on March 3, 2024.

Born in Ruston, Louisiana, on September 22, 1946, to James D. Sanford, Sr. and Josephine Hughen Sanford, Dennis was forever a son of Louisiana but also a resident of places near and far – from Arcadia, California, and Calgary, Canada, to Dallas, Houston, and Richardson, Texas, and around the world to Dhahran and Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia. Most recently he called Lucas, Texas, home for the last 20 years. Throughout all his travels he rarely met a stranger. Dennis was known to talk to anyone, across language barriers, making small talk and engaging on any number of topics. “Sanford time” - in which we all were often just a few minutes behind – is a result.

Dennis earned his Eagle Scout in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana, where he graduated from Oak Grove High School. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and later an MBA from Louisiana Polytechnic Institute (now Louisiana Tech University), joining over a dozen in his family as LaTech Bulldogs.

After an exciting stint at NASA supporting the Skylab space mission, Dennis came home one day with an intriguing job offer from ARAMCO. Deanna heard “ARMCO” (the steel company) and quickly agreed! She soon learned that the job was nearly 8,000 miles around the globe on the Arabian Gulf, but by then it was too late: she’d already said yes. Dennis, Deanna, Mel, and Jim (and later Joe, who was born overseas) would enjoy the next 20 years of adventures in the Middle East. Dennis retired from Saudi Aramco in 1997.

At various times he proudly bore many different titles and descriptors: son, brother, grandson, cousin, neighbor, nephew, tackle, scout, brother-in-law, graduate, engineer, uncle (and to some, “Dunkle Dennis”), friend, colleague, father/dad/daddy, ex-patriate, project business manager, congregant (mostly Methodist, but he had a great Lutheran minister once, too), little league and soccer coach, Friday-school leader (like Sunday school), Scout Master, softball player, world traveler, “Desert Dawg” (desert explorer/adventurer), school board superintendent, wood-worker, craftsman, model train enthusiast, fountain pen maker, clock tinkerer, stained-glass artist, gardener, bee-keeper, model-T mechanic, financial advisor, master puzzler, reader/listener of historical fiction and thrillers, tormentor of local catfish, crappie, and brim—and many more in his 77 years. But those he wore best were: beloved husband and Papa.

Dennis’s parents, his mother-in-law Marion Davis (who thought the sun orbited around him and not the other way round), his father-in-law George W. Davis, and his favorite dogs, Mickie and Patches, preceded him. Surviving Dennis are his loving wife of 51 years, Deanna Davis Sanford; his daughter Melanie Dawn Sanford of Lucas, Texas; his son, James D. Sanford, III (Emily) of Dallas, Texas; and his son Joseph D. Sanford (Tiffany) of Dallas, Texas. Also surviving him are his sister Charlotte Grimm and brother-in-law Dave Grimm; his sister-in-law Jackie Davis; six nieces and nephews and their wonderful families, including 14 great-nieces/nephews; and thousands upon thousands of bees whose hives – like our own lives – are less attended to today. Most importantly, surviving him are those beautiful souls who know Dennis as the World’s Best Papa (it says so on his truck’s bumper sticker!): his grandchildren Owen (9) and Vivian (7) Sanford and Ruby Dale Vaughan-Sanford (3.5).

The family will hold a memorial at Allen Family Funeral Options (2112 W. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, Texas) on March 16, 2024, at 2:00pm (reception to follow). Interment will occur later at Butters Cemetery in Forest Hill, Louisiana. If y’all are passing through central Louisiana, you know Dennis would love for you to stop by for a visit.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to Louisiana Tech University towards an endowed scholarship to be established by the family. Gifts should be made payable to the “Louisiana Tech University Foundation” with “James Dennis Sanford, Jr. Scholarship” in the memo line and mailed to PO Box 1190, Ruston, LA 71273-1190, or directly at http://www.latechalumni.org/.

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