Gifted guitarist, spiritual warrior W.R. Sanders crosses over at 57

| September 5, 2016
W.R. Sanders

W.R. Sanders

FORT WAYNE—The Summit City lost one of its treasured artist recently with the passage of one of the area’s most revered musicians.

Guitarist W.R. Sanders, a longtime collaborator with renowned R&B singer, musician and songwriter Ty Causey passed away at home Aug. 23 in Fort Wayne.

Born Dec. 25, 1958 to the union of Bishop B.A. and late District Missionary Ruthie M. Sanders in Gary, Indiana, W.R. Sanders graduated from Roosevelt High School in Gary. Some years later, he relocated to Fort Wayne where he found a budding music career. For more than a decade, Sanders brought his innovate guitar stylings including his expert and tasteful use of a guitar synthesizer to the recording and live performances of Ty Causey. Sanders also had a solo recording career, producing and performing on his own albums.

Causey called Sanders an invaluable musical partner constantly lauding his skill as a performer. But, he said as a man, W.R. was in a class of his own.

“W.R. Sanders was the most honest and dependable musician I have ever known or worked with. That is why we performed together for the past 14 years,” said Causey.

But, it was Sanders’ spiritual commitment that bonded the two artist together even more.

“His love for for Jesus Christ was the common denominator that sealed our integrity and work ethic,” explained Causey. “We were blessed to perform in many parts of the world together. He played on most of my album releases early my career. He was a one of a kind God-gifted musician who will truly be missed but never forgotten.”

Another renowned musician, Todd Harrold, a bandleader, player, writer and singer in his own right and occasional collaborator with Causey remembered the last gig he played with W.R. in a Facebook note he posted the day he heard Sanders had died. Harrold shared that post with Frost Illustrated:

“My friend Ty Causey called me to play a gig with him last month in Indianapolis and I got the opportunity to play with Brian Derek, Jim Steele, Matt Cashdollar and W.R. Sanders. W.R. had missed the rehearsal we had because he was not well,” Harrold recounted.

“When we got to the gig and started playing, W.R. turned around during a couple of songs and said, ‘Todd, check it out’ and would play a rhythmic figure on his guitar that would be more appropriate for the song for me to play on drums and when I picked it up, he would smile and say, ‘yeah, man’ and everything immediately felt better.

“Even though he was in a wheelchair when he got on and off the stage, he took several fantastic solos, and i mean fantastic. When the gig was over, we had a wonderful conversation about how much we enjoyed playing with each other. I was completely blown away both with the fact that this guy, who was obviously not doing well, just absolutely played his ass off and with the loyalty shown by Ty Causey to his friend and musical partner. Somebody else might have called another guitar player under these circumstances, but Ty didn’t.

“I saw that W.r passed away this morning. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to know him these past few years and to play with him that one last time. That was beyond inspirational to me. What a great player and a great person he was.”

To reflect many precious memories he leaves parents, Bishop B.A. and Beulah Sanders, and devoted wife, Mellondy; sons, Pratel M. Winston, Onza T. Winston, Lauren Jarome Winston and W.R. Sanders Jr.; daughters, Ebonee Sanders, Deshae (Andre C.) Redden and Mellondy Joy Sanders; siblings Superintendent Burnnie (Mischell) Sanders, District Missionary (Elder Carl) Sutton Sr., Benita (Lorenzo) Taylor, Berquilla (Albert) Bullock; and mother-in-love, Geraldine Winston. A Musical Celebration was held Friday, Septe. 2 followed by a Homegoing Service Saturday, Sept. 3, at The Church of God in Christ Inc. of Gary, Indiana, 5718 W. 9th Avenue, Gary. Burial was Fern Oaks Cemetery in Griffith, Indiana.

Arrangements were by Powell-Coleman Funeral Home.

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Category: Arts, Community, Entertainment, Local, Obituaries, People, Spiritual Matters

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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