Mellie Florence (Blevins) Sanders entered into glory on August 11, 2019, after a courageous battle with cancer. She died peacefully at home in Edmond surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was 91 years old.
“Boxcar Mellie” was born on May 5, 1928, in a boxcar along the main line of the Santa Fe Railroad at Braddock Switch in the Flint Hills of Kansas. In those days, boxcars were converted to housing for railroad employees by the Santa Fe Railroad, where her father worked as a crew foreman. She grew up in various towns around Kansas as her father moved with his work on the railroad. Not surprisingly, she had a life-long romance with steam locomotives and travel.
She married the love of her life, Robert Henry Sanders, December 12, 1947, in Miami, Oklahoma. They raised seven children on a farm near Wyandotte, Oklahoma. She was an organic farmer before the concept became popular. She was a devoted wife and mother.
After selling the family farm in 1993, the couple moved to Perry, Oklahoma, a town where, she said, the teenagers held doors for senior citizens and addressed them as “Ma’am and Sir.” She was a member of the Perry Church of Christ. Mellie and Robert spent their long retirement traveling extensively from Mexico to Canada and to Europe. Following Robert’s death, after 67 years of marriage, she moved to Edmond, Oklahoma, to be with family, joined the Deer Creek Church of Christ and continued to travel with her children. She crossed the last item off her “bucket list” in May of this year when she traveled with two of her children and a granddaughter to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to witness the rollout of Union Pacific’s newly restored Big Boy 4014, the largest operating steam locomotive in the world.
She is survived by five of her children: Dee Ann Sanders (husband John E. Stevens) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Jana Thomason (Robert Duffy), Sara Grossman (Glen), and Terry Sanders (Collene), all of Edmond, Oklahoma, and Robert O. Sanders (Maggie) of Tulsa; six grandchildren and five great grandchildren; three sisters: Betty Hoehn, Jefferson City, Missouri, Alma Patriarca of High Ridge, Missouri, and Vivian Sue Copeland of El Dorado, Kansas; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by husband Robert, daughter Lisa Marie Hoeppner, son Samuel Ray Sanders, two grandsons, her parents, two sisters and a brother. Services are pending. Interment will be at Hickory Grove Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma.