Pastors' Memoirs

Eleanor Lupo Sanders, 1916-1995

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Eleanor Lupo Sanders was born in Greenville, South Carolina, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Lupo, a presiding elder in the South Carolina conference. From birth she knew the joys as well as the tribulations of life in a Methodist parsonage, and especially as a minister's wife, was always a gracious and caring hostess. It made no difference whether Eleanor was the wife of the bishop, the district superintendent or the pastor of the local church she was a friend and confidante to all. The designation "lady" applied to her the highest degree. She was not only liked but also loved and admired by the people of the parish as well as the conference and thought of as one to whom one could go for counsel or advice. She had simple but elegant taste in matters of beauty in the surroundings of God's world and of persons. The secret of it was that "she loved people" and this came out loud and clear in her day-to-day relations, whether working as an occasional employee at Thalhimers department store or planning a reception for the bishop. People were important to her and her life was a constant expression of gratitude to God for His continued goodness.

It is no secret that Eleanor loved to travel and across the years was privileged to become acquainted with much of the world. Some years ago a bus load of Virginia ministers and wives were visiting Israel. No sooner had they crossed over the Jordan River than they received word that Eleanor Sanders wanted to see them in Jericho. Sure enough there she was standing under a sycamore tree similar to one that Zacchaeus might have climbed ages before. She got around but she never forgot their friends no matter where she might happen to be.

Eleanor and Carl met back in 1934 when, as a theology student, he came to talk with her father about an appointment. There was an instantaneous attraction between them and they were married on September 28, 1935. She became a very loving and supportive wife and the mother of two daughters, Lundi Sanders Martin and Eleanor Sanders Kasler. Carl served as the pastor of Cheriton, Chase City, South Roanoke, Broad Street and Centenary churches in Richmond, and Arlington in Arlington. He was the district superintendent in Petersburg, Richmond, and Norfolk and in 1972 was elected to the episcopacy and appointed to the Birmingham Episcopal Area. In every appointment Eleanor shared the ministry of her husband. She loved the United Methodist Church and the fellowship of the ministry. It was as if she had heard God's call to serve as positively as her husband and lived her life fully to respond to the joy of that call. Throughout her life with Carl, from the beginning years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia to the years in the episcopal residence in Alabama, she expressed her love for Christ and his church in many ways but primarily through the giving of herself in a very personal ministry of love and supportive caring.

Surely she heard the Master's voice saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant... enter thou into the joy of the Lord."

Eleanor died on March 24, 1995, in Richmond, Virginia. Her memorial service was conducted at Centenary United Methodist Church in Richmond, with the Rev. Timothy W. Whitaker, pastor, and Bishops R. Kern Eutsler, Thomas B. Stockton and Paul Duffey participating. Interment followed at Forest Lawn Cemetery with Bishops Stockton, Eutsler, Duffey and William Morris participating.

-James W. Turner



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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