Class of 1960‎ > ‎




James Benjamin Sanders, III
DOB: 24 October 1942
(AKA: "Benny” @ WHS; “Sandy”; in Dodger's organization plus“Gym”; in the military/DoD)
Academic Education:  Walhalla High School Graduate, class of 1960 and attended same school system from (1948-60) 
M.S. Troy University, (Counseling and Human Development), B.A. @ Columbia College, MO, (Liberal Arts), A.A.S. @ College of the USAF, (Recreation Management), A.A. @ Georgia Military Academy, (Military Studies and International Relations). Declined the opportunity to obtain PhD at Boston University and become an officer through the USAF “Bootstrap Program.”
Scholastic Honors: M.S (4.0 GPA) and B.A., Dean’s List (GPA 3.83)
 Prior Certification: Licensed Mental Health Counselor, with Dept. of Professional Regulations, FL 
Work History: Worked at Linda's Drive-Inn and as a bag-boy at Winn-Dixie and A & P Grocery, (1958-60) and later P/T for Walhalla Recreation Department in 1961, Signed professional baseball contract with L.A. Dodgers, (pitcher) 1961-63: record 4-0 in rookie season in Florida State League. Attended spring training with L.A. Dodgers at Vero Beach, FL in 1962-63. Promoted to Double AA with Albuquerque, NM of Texas League in 1963. Sent down with arm injury to Western Carolina League.  Promising career with Dodgers cut short playing for Salisbury, NC.  Accepted by Peace Corp under Presidents Kennedy/Johnson Administration to be Athletic Director in Caracas, VZ but joined USAF in 1964 for the same position. Assigned to play baseball at Lackland  AFB, and his team was 87-18 in 1964 beating the NCAA College World Series Champs (Minnesota) and runner-up (Missouri) and also playing the Big Ten/Big Eight college teams and other strong teams in Texas, Colorado, and local semi-pro teams.. Posted a 10-4 record and 1.54 ERA. Played “varsity” sports for 15 years in USAF competitions in; baseball, football, fast-pitch softball, basketball, volleyball and badminton. Selected to several all-star teams as MVP pitcher, punter, QB and wide-receiver.
USAF Bases Stationed 1964-86 Included:, TX, Turkey, TN, SC, Guam, MI, AK, MO, FL, SC, Panama. Worked for DoD as GS-11 civilian in Panama, (8) years, NC (1), FL (8). Retired in 2004 after  receiving USAF Award as managing the “best drug testing program in the USAF” for several years. Won other Major Command Awards and athletic achievement awards as player and military management directorship under wing-level and general staff officers. Recognized by General staff and wing commander for support role during “JUST CAUSE” to oust Noriega, in Panama. Wrote the Operational Plan for the Panama Implementation President Carter signed in 1976 to end the armed forces presence located in that country by 31 Dec 1999. Hosted Presidents Carter and Ford, Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney, General Powell and several other dignitaries while in Panama and those “pressure cooker times” for total quality management.
World-Wide Travels: Visited 35-plus countries that ranged 100 miles from Arctic Circle to the tip of South America, Caribbean Basin Islands, Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Mediterranean, Middle East, the Pacific Rim. Most dangerous cities ever visited: Rio de Janeiro, and Beirut, Lebanon. Visited 47 of the 50 states, except North and South Dakota, and Montana..
Other Accomplishments:
Adjunct professor for St. Leo College, taught Psychology
Published Author: “Near the Foothills of the Mountains,” in 2000Member of the Professional Baseball Players Association
NCAA Basketball Official, National Baseball Congress Umpire, and Amateur Softball Umpire
Signed a TOPPS Baseball Card Contract when with the Dodgers  organization with Sy Berger, writing, “From what I have heard, you have a promising career.”
Assistant Baseball Coach and Pitching Coach at (NAIA) Columbia College, MO
Performed on Armed Forces Radio and TV as an announcer and commentator on call-in shows in the USAF.
Presently Guest Columnist for several upstate South Carolina newspapers
Professional Affiliations: Several National Medical Personnel and Guidance Associations and American Mental Health Associations
 Children: Oldest daughter Kimberly Abbott is an elementary teacher at Walhalla, and she has 3 children; a son
Jimmy IV, lives in NY and is a former World Champion Boxer, and has two children; a daughter Jacquelin became a mother 8 October 2014 and is married to a Marine, Tony Benge
Best Happy Moments: So numerous there would have to be a separate book written about “happiness and good times” and laughter
Most Moment  Embarrassing Moment: Walking into an upscale woman’s restroom, greeted with smiles by some and scorned by others
Funniest Times: Not enough space to mention but I have had a fun-filled life and been richly blessed by Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior since I was baptized 4 July 1954 at the Second Baptist Church on the Chicopee Mill Village. I have no deep-seeded regrets but as an avid golfer with 3 “Holes-in-One"; that sport I miss; and being active in interior home creativity and with outdoor yard work I enjoyed; but hip replacement surgery, two rods and eight screws in my back and other physical problems have put those fond activities on hold. 13 surgeries from 1965 to 2014 can do that; but thanks to the medical field for physical therapy, creative writing, TV sports and talking to old friends and a “once in a while” pain pill can you get through the day.

Jim is a writer with occasional articles published in local newspapers.  Jim  has
 authored and published several books of his memories and reflections.

                                                      Below is Jim's Tribute to Karl "Blue" Miller



     Karl “Blue” Miller was truly a good friend of mine. Although distance had separated us the last 45-years, we quite often stayed in touch by phone and our paths crossed many times when I visited him in Walhalla. Nonetheless a bonded relationship between us formed early on and was fully grounded to the end. In fact, I spoke to him on the phone several weeks before he died and his parting words were, “I love you big guy.” I then replied, “I love you too Blue. Take care!” No unfinished business to resolve between us with those two parting statements.

     When my daughter Kimberly Abbott called to tell me my good friend Blue had died, I was saddened immensely most likely the same way unexpected shocking news had traveled into the countless thousands of other homes, through either word of mouth or by phone or email lines, after hearing about his untimely death.

     The first memories I have of Blue probably occurred around 1950 when he lived in a big white house on the Coffee Road just down from the Finkenstadt residence. His father, who we respectfully called “Sarge,” drove a shiny light blue Dodge and always parked it beside their house in the yard.

      I knew Blue played on the Walhalla Razorback football team since my cousin Patsy Callahan had taken me to their home games the season before.

Although it’s been 55-plus years, I remember Blue liked to spend time peering from his airy porch. He’d propped up his elbows in a V-shape position on the banister of his two-story home and let the palms of his hands nestle on his jaw bones that supported his dark black head of hair during the hot “dog days” of August in between early morning and late afternoon football practice.  As a youngster, I viewed in awe any person who was a roster player for the Razorbacks. At my early age, all Razorback football players were considered my heroes. I cannot remember the first “Most Valuable Substitute” the Razorbacks ever had, but I remember who won this award around 1952…Blue Miller.

     I can also remember Blue walking his future wife Annie Hughes after school down the side walk on Main Street past the Strand Theater and Harry Norman’s Drug Store. He’d walk Annie past Dawson Addis’ house on the corner, take a right and take the short cut toward Norton’s Shoe Shop next to the railroad tracks by the Chicopee Mill on the way to her house on the mill village just above the baseball field. Annie’s brother, Billy Hughes, was another hero of mine when I was in grammar school. He was a Friday night star for the Razorback football team and later played baseball as an infielder for the “Chicopee Chix” mill team in the local textile league.

     Blue was an icon not because of his nickname but because of his caring personality. He loved life and helping others. He never rushed or was in a hurry. Although he resided in the Eastern Time Zone, he lived on “Blue Miller Time.” He focused on the interest of others, especially our youth, always conveying their concerns and always exhorted their accomplishments. He revealed humanness, warmth and genuine demeanor and selflessly gave to others his time and energy. He had a Ph.D. in always being “sincere.” He went on many church missions to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate. Blue did this from the heart and not for fame or personal recognition. He was an avid supporter of Chix baseball games, high school sponsored events, city recreation sports leagues, and he supported the Boy Scouts. He believed wholeheartedly in the Golden Rule and always modeled good citizenship. He never focused on one’s failures but always squeezed out the last drop of success and had the innate magic to motivate a person for bigger plans to aim for higher aspirations.

     Noble is a word that describes Blue. His mere presence always demanded respect. Many times I have been in Neville’s Hardware or Kent Todd’s Paint Store and hear several customers speak in unison, "Here comes Blue” as he pulled up in his pickup truck. He looked on life as yesterday is gone, tomorrow is only a promise and today is all we have so spend it wisely. Will Rogers once said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Well I can honestly say I never met anyone who did not like Blue Miller.

     Blue was a simple man to describe. Most of the time he could be seen wearing a ball cap tilted back on this head camouflaging a neatly cut flat top, an exact copy from a card board pictorial demo on the wall in Claude Sloan’s and later Joe Holden’s Barber Shop. He loved to wear sleeveless shirts, carried a half cracked smile and projected an illuminating bright-eyed twinkle. One side of his jaw jutted out as if it was pregnant from the pain of a swollen tooth about to give birth to an abscess. Close at hand was always his paper cup or aluminum can as his chosen spittoon of the day to discard the brownish liquid from the tightly pressed lips of his mouth.

     In 1968 while stationed at Sewart AFB in Tennessee, I registered for a college course with the local university on base. The woman at the registration desk then said, “If you have any questions call this four digit number.” I looked at the small slip of paper she had written on and gave it back to her then replied, “I don’t need to remember this ma’am because that’s Blue Miller’s number back home,” and walked off leaving her looking stunned. I later told Blue about the memory and we shared a laugh.

     Walhalla is known as the “Garden of the Gods” but the city can also be proud of being the hometown of one of its favorite sons…the man we fondly called Blue. 

                                                                     From A Good Friend, 

                                                                     Jim Sanders, III