Born: February 1, 1930 - Deceased: June 17, 2023
Larry Lee Sandefur, 93, of Fairview Heights, IL, born February 1, 1930 in Maplewood, MO, “slipped the surly bonds of earth” on June 17, 2023.
He has rejoined his wife, the love of his life, Rose Marie Sandefur, nee Owen; parents, Lawrence Hamlet Sandefur and Marion Frances Sandefur, nee Livingston; sisters, Frances Evelyn Sandefur and Betty Jean Sandefur; infant son, Michael Sandefur; and daughter, Tracey Ann Sandefur.
He is survived by his:
- Son, Kevin Owen (Laura Davis) Sandefur
- Daughter, Karen Lea Sandefur
- Granddaughter, Darcy Elena Sandefur
Larry grew up in East St. Louis and, at the age of 10, began working for his family at Sandefur Baking Company.
After graduating from East St. Louis High School, he briefly attended SIU Carbondale. Then, in 1951, he answered the call to enlist in the Marine Corps. He was stationed at El Toro in California, where he managed a shift in their bakery, was baptized a Christian in the Pacific Ocean, qualified for the Rifle Expert badge, and was promoted to the rank of
Soon after returning home, he went to study at the American Institute of Baking in Chicago. In the 1970s, he was instrumental in transitioning Sandefur Baking Co. from baking for retail stores to exclusively baking hamburger buns for McDonald’s in the Greater St. Louis and southwestern IL region. He spent the last few years of his career with the bakery as CEO before selling it to Klosterman Baking Co., Inc. He worked for Klosterman as a Bakery Consultant for another 10 years. Also, during that time, he enjoyed working as a travel agent for Cardinal Travel, Travel Express, and finally Ambassador Travel; for Kurrus Funeral Homes; and for Vandalia Bus Lines. He finally retired at the age of 88.
He loved to sing, and he loved to fly. We assume that sometimes, alone in the cockpit, he combined the two. He joined the chorus in high school and chose his college fraternity because he liked their serenading. Married to his church’s organist, he sang in their choir for decades, and he and Rose sang together for years in the Masterworks Chorale.
He also loved movies, especially the glamour and romance of old Hollywood swashbucklers and adventures. He took his children to see revivals of The Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin on the big screen at the Hi-Pointe. On nights when Rose’s other musical commitments kept her away from home, Larry would let them stay up late to watch monster movies on tv, or (even better) take them to a Japanese science fiction double feature at the drive-in.
When he acquired his private pilot license, he shared ownership of a small plane. He enjoyed flying his friends where they needed to go and taking his children flying, letting them take turns at learning how to co-pilot.
After selling the bakery, he fulfilled lifelong dreams of travel by working part-time as an agent. His frequent journeys spanned three continents, including two visits to China. While his wife was still able to accompany him, Larry and Rose traveled together throughout Europe, and North and Central America.
He considered his military service one of the best things he’d ever done, often telling us that there was “no such thing as an ex-Marine.” Whenever his brother-in-law, Jack, would remind him that the Marines were part of the Navy, he would acknowledge the fact, adding that they were “the best part.”
But it was always his family that made him most proud, whether collectively in the family business, or especially in their own individual accomplishments. Growing up during the Great Depression made him a special kind of tough, but also gave him a special sense of the value of family and a compassion for the plight of others.
His mother Marion never sent anyone, stranger or friend, away hungry during even the leanest years. Larry followed her example with his eternal willingness to help anyone in need, especially members of his extended church and bakery families. One could never fully list the countless lives he touched, and he will be greatly missed by all. As the Wizard of Oz taught us, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.” Semper fi.
Memorial Donations to Winstanley Baptist Church, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and Hospice of Southern Illinois would be very much appreciated.
A celebration of Larry’s life will be held at Winstanley Baptist Church on Saturday, October 21, 2023 with Visitation at 12:00pm (Noon) and Service at 1:00 pm.