Louise Sanderson

GUILDERLAND — Louise Sanderson — widely known as “Ma” — “was one of the most fun-loving people you could be around, but didn’t take any guff from anybody,” said her son, Richard Sanderson.

She died on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, at the age of 92.

She raised her six children, Richard Sanderson said, to be independent and to follow their own thoughts and wishes. “She never told us where to live, what religion to follow, or who to marry,” he said.

Mrs. Sanderson was born in Bovina Center, New York on March 8, 1924.

She knew how to roll with the punches. When Richard Sanderson was 17, he asked his mother, “How would you like to be a grandmother?” She said, “I’d love it,” and he went out to the car and brought in her first grandchild, his daughter, Rae Ann.

Mrs. Sanderson’s six children were raised mostly in Albany, and then in Knox, Richard Sanderson said. He recalled that, at one point, they lived with Mrs. Sanderson’s mother in a two-bedroom house on Krumkill Road. The children’s grandmother had one bedroom, Mrs. Sanderson slept in the living room, and all six children shared the second bedroom. “They made a bunk bed out of two double beds, with the three girls on the top and the three boys on the bottom,” he said.

For many years, two of the children went off to live with an aunt and uncle, Richard Sanderson said, and “that helped immensely.”

They had a stepfather, Nevin Schindler, who “helped out for quite a few years,” Richard Sanderson said.

Louise Sanderson retired from working at the University at Albany. She was active with the American Legion Post 977 Helderberg, Altamont. She was closely affiliated with the Boyd Hilton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Altamont and with the Voorheesville Rod and Gun Club. One of her passions with the Legion was being active with the color guard, whom she called her “penguins,” because of their stiff and formal walk.

She met Claude (Joe) Smith through her job at the university, where he also worked, and they became “lifelong soulmates,” Richard Sanderson said. They were together for the next 56 years.

“Joe was with my mother right up till the end,” Richard Sanderson said. “And even though they weren’t married, I really knew what ‘till death do us part’ means.”

At some point, Mrs. Sanderson took on a family  nickname of “Susie,” said Richard Sanderson, and soon his daughter was known as “Susie 1,” his granddaughter as “Susie 2,” and his great-granddaughter as “Susie 3.”

Everywhere else, around town, said her son, she was known as “Ma.”

Mrs. Sanderson “will be missed by many,” said Richard Sanderson.


Louise Sanderson is survived by her lifelong soulmate, Claude (Joe) Smith.

She is also survived by her six children: Joyce Guess of Oak Grove, Louisiana, and her husband, Robert; Doris Sanderson of Albany; Lloyd H. Sanderson Jr. of Altamont; Richard Sanderson of Altamont and his wife, Marti; Monty Schindler of California, and his wife, Lisa; Bonnie VanAuken of Scotia; 10 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. The family was grateful, said Richard Sanderson, for Fredendall’s care and attention to detail.

The family wrote in a tribute that they wanted to express their thanks to St. Peter’s Hospice Inn for its “wonderful love and care for our mother.” The family also wrote of its special gratitude to Annie, whom they say also provided Mrs. Sanderson with love and care.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, 501 Saint Jude Pl., Memphis, Tennessee 38105.

—Elizabeth Floyd Mair

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