Friday, May 24, 2013
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Retired Cmdr. Walter Ernest Saunders Sr., U.S. Navy, went to join his Creator on Thursday, May 16, 2013, at his son's home in Newport News, Va. He was preceded in death by his parents, Louise Pollard Saunders Strickland and W.E. Saunders II; his sister Anne Aultman; his wife of 59 years, Dorothy Cooper Saunders; his infant daughter, Joy Webb; and granddaughter, Charity Kiser.

He was much loved by all who knew him. He grew up in Sylvester, Ga., Tampa, Jacksonville and Ocala, Fla. During World War II, he graduated from Annapolis, Class of '46, which was rushed through in three years and why he was the youngest officer on board the USS Missouri at the signing of the Japanese surrender.

Marriage to Dorothy was followed by seven children and postings to Jacksonville, Fla.; Columbus, Ohio; Virginia Beach, Va., and his beloved Key West, Fla., where he retired after 26 years in the Navy. Becoming a light tackle charter fishing guide, this second career brought clients from all over the USA who fished with "Capt. Ernie" time after time for over 30 years. He sat on the board of the Key West Chapter of The Salvation Army and, together with Dorothy, was an active member of United Methodist "Old Stone" Church for 45 years.

He is survived by his children Emily Saunders Friedman (Paul), Louise Saunders Kiser (Shane), Walter Ernest Saunders Jr., Olin Cooper Saunders (Sandi), Robert Calhoun Saunders, and Scott Andrew Saunders; six grandchildren, Share Kiser, Brian Friedman (Stephanie), Bekah Friedman Brighten (Joel), Joshua Saunders (Lori), Sharra Saunders DeHart (Aaron) and Amber Saunders Taylor (Bruce); and five great-grandchildren, Cameron, Kendall, Camden, Noah and Paige.

The family is deeply indebted to Sandi, who although not born to him was his third daughter, enabling him to be at home until the end.

Arrangements will be made for a memorial service at Key West UMC and interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his memory be sent to Key West UMC, The Salvation Army or the Gary Sinise Foundation.