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In Memory Of

William "Dave" Sanders

October 22, 1951 - April 20, 1999

 

At 11:24 p.m. on April 20, 1999, Dave Sanders and custodians Jon Curtis and Jay Gallatine went to the cafeteria inside Columbine high school and warned students to take cover because someone was shooting outside. Sanders helped lead students to a stairway, telling them to run down the hallway to exits on the school's east side.
"He ran into the cafeteria and warned everybody," English teacher Cheryl Lucas said. "We started moving because of him."

But mr. Sanders didn't follow his own advice and get out of the school. Instead, he headed towards the library where the told the students there to hide. Seconds later, the gunmen came into the hallway where he were standing, and opened fire. They hit him twice in the chest.

Severely wounded, he ran into a science classroom, where about 30 students had fled. Students tried to stop the bleeding and they showed his photos of his family.
"I heard him say, 'I'm not going to make it," Marjorie Lindholn said. "He was saying, 'Tell my girls I love them."

About 25 minutes later, the first SWAT Team entered the science room. At this point, mr. Sanders was still alive. The SWATs told the students in the classroom to get out of the school and leave their wounded teacher behind. One member of the SWAT Team stayed with mr. Sanders while waiting for the paramedics while the rest led the students out of the school.

The paramedics arrived about an half hour later, but then it was too late: he was already was dead.

Teachers and students who witnessed his heroism said that "he was courageous, cunning and compassionate".

Mr. Sanders received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage posthoumously on February 14 i Las Vegas for his courageous effort inside the school during the shooting. The award was accepted by his wife Linda and his daughters.
"We are very excited about this award," Linda Sanders said.
"David has always been my hero, and it's nice to know the nation feels that way also." "Obviously, my dad was a hero on April 20," said Angela Sanders, one of his daughters. "But he lived his whole life that way. He was always there for everybody who needed him every day. It was not a onetime thing."

Previous recipients of the award include boxing legend Muhammad Ali and tennis star Billie Jean King

Angela Sanders said family members agreed that Dave Sanders would have been shocked to find himself in such famous company.
"I think everybody had the same thought, that my dad would be very appreciative, but he was not real big on recognition," she said. "It's not that he doesn't appreciate it, but he was not into being in the limelight."




Mr. Sanders was 47 years old. He had taught business courses at Columbine for 25 years. Gerry Difford, Columbine's first principal, hired Sanders in 1974. The school opened in 1973.
"He was just a kid from Nebraska back then,'' Sanders said. "He was always willing to take anything on. He didn't try to be the head coach of things necessarily, or be spectacular. He just loved to work with the kids.'

Mr. Sanders also coached basketball, track and softball at Columbine. The girls' basketball team posted winning record in his first year, 1997-98 after finishing next to last the year before. Many of the members on the basketball team was good friends with Mr. Sanders, and thought it was hard to continue on the team without him coaching them. Read more here.

He was survived by his wife Linda and three grown daughters and five grandchildren.

"He knew how to motivate your and make you want to play for him," said Susanne Miller, 19, a former Columbine High School athlete who now plays college softball at Georgia Tech. "He always knew just the right things to say."

 

DAVE SANDERS PICTURES

 

Videos

April, 1999. NBC report about Dave Sanders

 

Where to make donations to Dave Sanders:

Dave Sanders Memorial Scholarship Fund
Account No. 1242346
c/o Mountain States Bank
1635 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80218

Established by the Colorado Masons fraternal organization, the fund will provide scholarships to graduating seniors at Columbine.

 

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