John Henry Sanderlin, Sr. transitioned from labor to reward surrounded by loved ones on April 24, 2023. Born on September 27, 1937, in Norfolk, Virginia, he was the son of the late Dennis Henry Sanderlin and Beatrice Wilson Sanderlin.
John spent his childhood years in Norfolk, Virginia. He was the devoted and loving husband of Geraldine Locker Sanderlin for over 16 years. He was the proud father of Francais L. Chapman, Timothy Wright (Natikka), Janice V. Sanderlin, Gwendolyn Tanner (Charles), Shawnelle R. Sanderlin, John Sanderlin, Jr., and Omar N. Sanderlin, Sr. He had one step-son, Joseph A. Drake (deceased). John had special bonds with his stepdaughters, Sheraldine Bland, Valarie Williams (deceased), Sandra Coureton, Gale Calloway, and Wanda Hazelwood. In addition, he was the grandfather of 10 grandchildren, 14 step-grandchildren; great-grandfather of 8 great-grandchildren, 22 step-great-grandchildren; great-great-grandfather of 1 great-great-grandchild and 8 step-great-great-grandchildren.
John was the beloved brother of Beatrice Spady, Gardenia Sanderlin, Mary Y. Sanderlin, Dennis P. Sanderlin, Sr. (deceased/Juanita), Eunice Sanderlin, Dorothy S. Wilkinson (John), Glen Sanderlin (deceased/Brenda), and Vernon Sanderlin (Rosalynn). John took on the role of the family's patriarch, keeping in touch with a host of nephews, nieces, and cousins.
John graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia, Class of 1955, and subsequently attended Norfolk State University. He then went on to work in various occupational capacities, such as a truck driver with DD Jones. From there, he joined the Ford Motor Company workforce as an assembly line worker and forklift operator, dedicating well over 30 years before retiring. During this time, John enjoyed working as a referee, officiating baseball, basketball, and football throughout the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.
John loved and appreciated New Calvary Baptist Church's heritage, legacy, and spiritual roots. As a devoted life-long member of New Calvary Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, John served in many roles dutifully and sincerely. He served numerous years as a trustee and a budget committee member. Over the years, John also sang in the mass choir, participated in the Golden Age Ministry, and functioned in many capacities in the Brotherhood Ministry. In addition, he faithfully attended Sunday school and vacation bible school. Throughout the years, John attended as a delegate to several conferences, such as Baptist General, Lott Carey Baptist Foreign, and American Baptist Churches of the South. He also participated in the James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshop of America.
John was a conservationist. He did not believe in wasting anything. His philosophy was only to turn the lights on if you needed to do so. Otherwise, keep them off. John enjoyed life, good food, music, company, being around and seeing his family and friends. He loved cooking up a good meal. It seemed everyone was family, especially a cousin. He was "Mr. Family," knowing all the connections. He had a passion for bringing family members together to know each other. He was no stranger to anyone.
Top on his daily to-do list was checking out what was happening in the sports world and the world. He passionately loved watching and attending sporting events. He was a sports enthusiast, particularly football and basketball, and a diehard New England Patriots fan. Walking, current events/politics, or traveling (being out and about) came in as close seconds to sports in keeping John on the move. However, a good episode of Dick Wolf's Law & Order franchise or Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise, or a Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson sermon would suffice, too. Also, John took great pleasure in supporting and being part of the Book T. Washington Class of 55. This was pride and joy for him. Similarly, for years, he was a Prince Hall Mason. He served faithfully in Joshua Lodge #66 F.&A.M. (PHA).