How Jan Sanders Spent All Saints Sunday

Jan Sanders the widow of Judge Barefoot Sanders. Barefoot, as some will recall, is the legendary Federal Judge from here in Dallas who died about a month ago. Northaven has been Jan and Barefoot’s spiritual home for more than three decades, as they raised a family and served the community, and we were honored to host his memorial service.

I told this story this morning at church, and since knows Jan, it got applause. Which makes me think that even though it’s late on All Saints Sunday it might be inspiring for others to hear it too.

Judge Sanders, as you may have heard me say elsewhere is one of those truly rare folks who, over the span of a long career, had experience in all three branches of government. He served in the Texas House as a legistator and was a White House counsel for President Lyndon Johnson. President Carter appointed Barefoot Federal Judge here in the Norhtern District of Texas. By the time he retired in his 80s, he was the senior federal judge in this region.

I know of very few human beings who have experience in all three branches of government, or who were as beloved and respected as much as Barefoot.

All along his remarkable life, Jan has been a support and encourager, while also having a very active life in the community. She was by his side when he ran for the Texas House and when he later ran against John Tower. She is an active supporter of the Dallas Peace Center, and many environmental causes. But, because of the role of a federal judge, Jan stayed away from direct politics during the past several decades.

This morning, at church, we celebrated “All Saints Sunday,” and we honored Barefoot as we always honor those who have died during the past year. We read his name, lit a candle, and rang the bell. It was a tender, moving moment.

But Jan Sanders was not there. In fact, Jan Sanders is not in Dallas right now.

Jan left for Ohio on Friday, where she is volunteering to “get out the vote” in the greater Cincinnati area.

I talked to Jan before she left, and it was very clear that Ohio is where she needed to be today. When I mentioned this in church this morning, the congregation applauded, and I told them I hoped they would honor this octogenarian with in-person applause upon her return.

Her daughter says she has not yet heard from Jan, which we both agree probably means she’s thrown herself into it with her usual passion, and is loving every minute.

Jan and Barefoot are special people to so many. They shared a life of public service for fifty years. There are many different ways to honor a “saint” in our lives on All Saints Sunday. We honored Barefoot by lighting a candle for him this morning.

And in a very real way, Jan honored him too.


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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

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