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Meet Wally Sanders, a Resident at Our North Raleigh Facility and a Military Veteran Who is Proud that He Served His Country

At one time, Wally Sanders shrugged off his past in the military as something he had to do after finances forced him to leave college early, but over the years, the 81-year-old North Raleigh resident has grown to appreciate the meaning and value of his service to his country. When Veterans Day arrives on Sunday, November 11, it will be a highly significant observance for the United States Air Force veteran.

“At this point, it means a lot,” says Wally, who moved into Carillon Assisted Living of North Raleigh last spring. “I’m glad I was able to serve the U.S. with the Air Force. At the time, I didn’t think I was doing anything. But I did what was required of me as a person. It makes me proud on Veterans Day that I am a veteran.”

A native of the Raleigh suburb of Clayton, Wally enrolled in college after high school. He was determined to set out to make professional use of his basketball talents, and his plan was to major in health and physical education and become a teacher and coach. However, at the start of his second year, he lost student deferment, exposing him to the draft. Six months later, Uncle Sam called him to the military induction center.

“At the end of your physical, they put you through a series of tests—mental, physical, aptitude,” Wally recalls. “I was in good shape because I played basketball, and they wanted to send me to the Marines. I didn’t want to go into the Marines, so I went into the Air Force instead.”

Wally jokingly calls finishing basic training his favorite memory of his four-year enlistment; he completed his tour as an airman second class. After basic, Wally became a personnel specialist and a clerk-typist, which are skills he says he never would have acquired anywhere else.

More importantly, the Air Force taught him the necessity of being prepared for the future. The military emphasized education and that the only way to advance in rank was by attending classes and various forms of training.

“I decided once I got out I would go back to college,” says Wally, who eventually graduated from Delaware State University. “I became a physical education teacher and a basketball coach. I stayed in Delaware and later moved to New Jersey. I coached three years in South Jersey and 10 years in Central Jersey.”

Wally would also marry while living in the Northeast. He and Ina enjoyed 42 years together before her death in 2003. They have two adopted sons and seven grandchildren.

“I had never been sick a day in my life until now, but it hasn’t affected my faith in God,” Wally says. “I know people get sick and wonder why certain things happen to certain people or even them. But with faith in God, you understand no matter what happens, He’s still God and He still loves you.”

After retiring, Wally returned to North Carolina and became an associate pastor at a Baptist church while living in Wake Forest. Wally now uses his spiritual insights to lead Bible studies for residents twice a week.

Wally ended up at Carillon after a string of bad experiences elsewhere, but is now beyond happy to call Carillon Home.

“Everyone understands you need help, and they don’t mind helping,” Wally explains his fondness for our Knightdale community. “Making your bed, tying your shoes; we take those things for granted until we can’t do them any longer. Not all places are willing to help you with that kind of thing. Everyone here is nice.”

Posted in Sage Stories on November 9, 2018

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