SAUNDERS, Davis Davis Lee Saunders died this past Sunday, April 2nd, in his home, quietly and with dignity, surrounded by the people he so loved. Affectionately known as Baba John, Dr. Saunders is survived by his wife, Mary Hogg Saunders; his brother Dr. Elwyn A. Saunders and his wife Marcy; 6 children, Mary Lee Thomas, Danner Saunders Neal, John Alvah Lee Saunders, II, Nina Saunders Ellison, Cathy Hinson and Jeffrey Saunders; 9 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. We all celebrate his home-going while embracing our own sadness at his passing. The Rev. Dr. Saunders was born in 1925 in Colleton, reared in Charleston, the son of Col. John A.L. and Una Mae Saunders. Dr. Saunders graduated from the Citadel in 1947 with a degree in Civil Engineering. His study at the Citadel was briefly interrupted while he served and subsequently was honorably discharged from the USMC. After graduating from the Citadel, he attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky where he was awarded an M.Div. (1951), a Th.M. (1969) and a Ph.D. (1972). In 1951, he and his wife Mary felt called by God and subsequently commissioned as Missionaries with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. Davis and Mary served in many different countries and contexts in Africa, including Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya . . . actually pioneering the work in East Africa. Dr. Saunders was a builder, a teacher, a pastor, an administrator, a church planter, an evangelist and an amazing colleague. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign Mission Board recognized his leadership skills and called him in 1972 to serve as administrator for all the Southern Baptist Mission work in Africa, an appointment from which he retired in 1990 as Vice-President for Africa. After 40 years of traveling and living all across Africa, he and Mary retired and returned to his homeplace in Walterboro where he has continued to support local churches and even serve as interim pastor with a number of churches in the Colleton and Charleston areas (Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Yemassee Baptist Church, Smoaks Baptist Church, Citadel Square Baptist Church and Charleston Heights Baptist Church). The Rev. Dr. Saunders was a man of great discipline, great vision and an amazing capacity for enabling and empowering others to reach their God-given potentials. Those who have crossed his path over the years would describe him as a man of circumspection, fairness and faithfulness. Dr. Saunders was not frivolous, yet had a wonderful sense of humor, a very dry wit and a capacity for making others feel important and at home. During his younger days, he was quite the athlete, enjoying among other sports, sailing, tennis and swimming. He was not always comfortable in the public eye, naturally quite shy, yet over time he learned to communicate with an intense simplicity that was both inviting and compelling. The Rev. Dr. Davis Lee Saunders’ life can best be celebrated by enumerating the three places where truly he lost his heart. First, Dr. Saunders offered his heart, soul and mind to his Lord and the proclamation of the good news of salvation in Christ. Second, Dr. Saunders committed himself to his wife, Mary whom he loved and gave of himself tirelessly and with gentility. Third, Dr. Saunders gave himself to the world that God so loved that He gave his only begotten son . . . There is no doubt but that even as this is being read, Baba John is fully embraced within the arms of God . . . and in this, too, we all rest. A Memorial Service of Celebration will be held at the First Baptist Church, Walterboro on Saturday, April 8th at 2:00 pm. Mrs. Mary (Mama John) Saunders will receive guests at a casual reception in the fellowship hall of the church beginning at 12 noon. In lieu of flowers, the Saunders family requests that you send contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship either through the First Baptist Church in Walterboro or through the Edisto Beach Baptist Church. Gifts may also be sent directly to the CBF offices in Columbia at PO Box 11159, 29201. Visit our guestbook at

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