Leone Ada Moore Sanford

Honored by:Dr. Leland Poague
Brick location:D:19  map

Leone Ada Moore was born September 27, 1918, in Lennon, Michigan, to Frank and Muriel Moore. Her childhood, shared with a brother, Robert, and a sister, Lois, was lived on a rural farmstead where the entire family struggled to weather the storms of the depressions, great and small, which buffeted the farm economy in the years between the two world wars. As her grandmother lived in Flint, Leone and her siblings could live in the city when they needed to; there they attended secondary school and Flint Junior College before each, in turn, attended the University of Michigan. Through her brother, Leone met Robert Sanford, a chemistry major at the university, who visited the Moore family farm in the spring of 1936. Once Leone began attending university, the romance flourished; Robert Sanford and Leone Moore were engaged by Thanksgiving.

In 1939 Leone received her B.A. degree in History and Education and began her teaching career in country schools while Robert Sanford did graduate work in chemistry at Colorado College. They were married in June of 1940. In 1942, as an expression of the deep religious convictions they shared, Robert Sanford resigned his draft-protected position as an industrial chemist and entered Yale Divinity School; their "war effort" would be a "peace effort." Though Leone taught in private schools while Bob took his classes, they "were partners in everything." In the summers of 1943 and '44 they served as rural ministers in northern Maine; in the1944-45 academic year they served in housing project churches ministering to shipyard workers in South Portland, Maine, while saving money to finance the remainder of Bob's seminary study. It was in Maine that their first son, Jonathan, was born in 1945.

After Bob graduated from Yale in 1946, they served a rural circuit of four churches strung over 40 miles in Yancey County, North Carolina, before Bob became a member of the California Conference of the Methodist Church in 1947. In California Bob and Leone served churches in Isleton, Oakland, Willows, Marysville, Stockton, Sunnyvale, Bakersfield, Crescent City, and Martinez, before Bob's retirement in 1982, when they moved to nearby Fairfield, where she lived the last 12 years of her life. Their second son, Paul, was born in Lodi, California in 1947, while their third son, Timothy, was born in Willows in 1953.

"A worker in the vineyard of love and peace," legally blind by the age of 30 though always finding ways to read, suffering from asthma but hiking the high mountains all her life long, Leone Sanford was a heroine to many people over the course of her 76 years. As a minister’s wife and teacher, she was a professional caregiver. But her caring cared little for institutional proprieties. Though the care she lavished on family was legendary and central to its coherence, especially when branches extended from one coast to the other, she seemed to care just as deeply about everyone she came in contact with, and many those were after decades of Sunday School and choir practice. Especially noteworthy was her involvement with Friends Outside, a group of volunteer good Samaritans who visit prisons and jails in order to help prisoners and their families, families who often suffer as much if not more than their inmate loved-ones. While Robert served the Wesley United Methodist Church in Bakersfield, Leone eventually became Director for the Kern County chapter of Friends Outside, which meant, among other things, that she and Robert often played host to inmates newly released, as well as to the stranded, the homeless, and others lost along the way.

One lost soul they encountered--well before Leone's formal involvement with the Bakersfield chapter of Friends Outside--was Leland Poague. Then a teenager with no home and in need, he was recommended to the Sanfords by the Santa Clara County director of Friends Outside, Rosemary Goodenough, soon after the Sanfords moved to Sunnyvale in 1965. A member of the Iowa State University Department of English since 1978, Dr. Poague credits the Sanford family, and Leone especially, for providing the exemplary encouragement and abiding affection which made his subsequent teaching career possible. Because Leone Sanford was always learning, always reading, always genuinely living her life, she made the life of the mind seem the life to lead. Leone Sanford will be remembered as "a brave, good Christian servant" whose heroism was all the more remarkable for being so ordinary, so much her every day in-the-world self. Leone Ada Moore Sanford was the daughter of Muriel Sutton Moore, whose mother was Grace Pixley Sutton, whose mother was Katherine Vale Pixley. Leone died November 1, 1994, All Saints Day. "Such a person cannot stay dead!"

Submitted on 12/22/94