For years, Bob Sanders’ “It seems to me” column appeared regularly in the Lake Geneva Regional News, but his byline in this newspaper is a mere footnote in his long media career.
Long before Sanders became a columnist for the Regional News, his voice was broadcasted throughout Chicago on WBBM—AM 780.
After a long illness, Sanders died on Oct. 13. He was 89.
Starting in April 1972, Bob and his wife, Betty, hosted a radio show, a mixture of talk, news, humor and interviews.
Bob and Betty married on May 15, 1954, exactly seven months after they met at a radio station in St. Louis. WBBM cut its ties with the couple in November 1982 when the station decided their style no longer matched its news format. According to a recent article by Robert Feder, their dismissal led to front-page headlines. The Sanders found a new work in the Chicago market within two months, according to Feder.
In addition to working in the Chicago, Bob’s voice was also heard on airwaves in both Milwaukee and Chicago.
In Feder’s article, he also noted quoted Steve Dale, a former producer for the Sanders. “They wrote a thank-you note to every guest who came in the studio,” Dale was quoted as saying. “It was the kind of class that I’ve not seen since.”
When Bob and Betty retired, they moved to Williams Bay where they owned a summer home.
One of Sanders retirement projects involved teaming up with Tom Barnett of Harvard, Ill. Barnett is a comic-strip artist, and Sanders would write jokes and send them to Barnett.
“We more or less think alike. I’m sorry about that,” Sanders said to Barnett during an interview with a Regional News reporter in January 2008.
Barnett described Sanders humor as “sharp as a tack.” Sanders warned that it was a “dull tack.”
At this time, Sanders was also writing his “It seems to me” column for the Regional News, which last appeared on Aug. 23, 2012.
His column was a mixture of observations and humor.
“Golf is without a doubt America’s most popular public participant sport. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why,” Sanders wrote in his column. “This is not going to be a piece which is intended to be critical of golf. If you enjoy it, God bless you, and hack away.”
In May 2009, Sanders spoke with a Regional News reporter about his service during World War II, and, if Sanders had his way, he said he wouldn’t have served at all.
“I’m proud that I answered the call of duty, but I did what I was asked to do,” he said at the time.
According to Sanders, he didn’t do anything special or heroic. In his eyes, the heroes of the war were the volunteers willing to put themselves in harm’s way.
“I think the real heroes were the people like the paratroopers who went in first,” Sanders said. “The ones who volunteered for the hazardous duties.”
Sanders is quick to point out his service wasn’t voluntary and if he had his druthers he wouldn’t have joined the military.
“It was required of me and I did it because of that,” Sanders said. “When I got in, all I wanted to do is get out.”
He was part of the 90th Infantry Division and was the replacement for troops who were wounded or killed after D-Day.
Sanders was part of the first wave of replacements and landed on Omaha Beach on June 23, 1944.
Sanders completed his basic training in Georgia. He was trained to be a tank driver, but after he arrived in Europe, he wasn’t needed as a tank driver.
He was then transferred to the infantry division. In 2004, Sanders was recognized by the French towns of Desertines and Fougerolles du Plessis for his role in the liberation of France during World War II.
When Sanders was in France, in 1945 and 1946, he exchanged letters with Alfred Guilloux, the former mayor of Desertines.
According to Sanders’ obituary, during the war he became ill with pleurisy and was hospitalized in Shreveport, La. In the hospital another patient told Sanders, “You like to talk, why don’t you go on the radio.”