Stephen Sanders was born on May 26, 1959 and grew up in Long Beach, where his parents, Darlene and Glen Sanders, still live.
By his teens, Steve had matured into a handsome, fun-loving, and popular young man. He became a regular cast member on the “American Bandstand” TV show and other televised dance shows filmed in Los Angeles, which he filmed on the weekends.
Steve was very involved in activities at his church and at Millikan High School in Long Beach. He was in Student Council, the school newspaper, water polo team, drama, various clubs, choir, the school musical, and National Honor Society.
But in the spring of his Junior year in 1976, Steve got cancer. He was out of school for months. He had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. He received hundreds of cards and many visitors during his 17-day hospitalization.
Steve fully recovered in time to start the Fall semester of his Senior year. He was elected to serve as Millikan’s Associated Student Body President (winning by just one vote!) and was a Varsity Yell Leader. The Long Beach Press-Telegram published an article about how his faith and friends helped him recover from cancer.
After high school, Steve modeled for print and TV commercials, and graduated from CSULB with a B.S. in Business Administration. Steve later earned an MBA and became a licensed real estate broker, general contractor, insurance broker and notary public. Steve married and had a daughter, Abbra, who is now grown and married.
Two years ago, Steve developed a different type of cancer. Despite aggressive medical treatment, Steve went on hospice care a few months ago.
In the final stage of his life, Steve enjoyed every day as best he could, choosing to be positive and productive. He filled up his social calendar, called and wrote letters to old friends, was active in his church, got his affairs in order, and even planned his own funeral. The City of Cypress recently recognized him with a Resolution for his life’s accomplishments.
Steve recently told his life story to a large audience, which got a standing ovation. His inspirational testimony was delivered beautifully, weaving humor and sadness, and told how lessons learned back in Sunday School remained relevant throughout his roller coaster life. It was perhaps the most significant influence he made on others toward the end of his life. After the speech, people lined up to speak to Steve, and many asked him to speak to other groups. You can see Steve’s speech on YouTube at:
Steve said, “After a roller coaster life of incredible highs and lows, the one constant has been my faith. Here I am, in the final stages of terminal cancer, and I wish I could have lived my life with the peace and love that I now finally enjoy. Our lives can be overflowing with love. Don’t wait.
With joy, I look forward to Heaven. I'm going to a better place. Heaven, here I come!”
On January 30, 2013, Steve passed away at the age of 53.
Steve’s memorial service will be held at SeaCoast Grace Church at 5100 Cerritos Avenue in Cypress, CA on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM.
Steve is survived by his parents, Darlene and Glen Sanders, his sister Shari McHenry, his daughter and son-in-law, Abbra and Tim Zimprich, and countless friends throughout his life.