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William Sanderson Stuhr, age 88, of Sullivan's Island, SC, widower of Fonda Wrenn Stuhr, and retired Chief Executive Officer of J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. took his final breaths on this earth Saturday, April 8, 2023 at his home "The Sandlot" on Sullivan's Island.
Sandy was born March 3, 1935 in Charleston, SC, the second son of J. Harry Stuhr and Rose Lorene Sanderson Stuhr. Growing up with his four brothers and sister at 5 Gadsden Street, he shared countless adventures along the streets, waters and marshes of Charleston. From a young age, he described himself as an inattentive, restless student, creating frustration and angst for a vast array of educators, ranging from Craft School on Queen Street to The High School of Charleston and the gates of The Citadel. Fortunately, Sandy's non-stop chatter and physical energy were effectively channeled into many activities outside of a classroom. He developed expertise as a fisherman and hunter, taught swimming and worked as a lifeguard at the Charleston Municipal Pool, and played football at Charleston High. Whatever athletic skills he lacked on the football field, Sandy compensated for with his grit and absence of fear. In no small feat, he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, graduated from The Citadel and took his place as a proud member of the Class of 1958.
Sandy often recanted the first time he saw the love of his life, Fonda Wrenn, at St. Johannes Lutheran Church, the church he was brought up in. She batted those big brown eyes at him, and the rest is their history. They married in 1958.
Following his graduation from The Citadel, Sandy joined his family funeral business as a fourth-generation funeral director. With their two rambunctious toddlers, Sandy, Jr. and Timmy, Sandy and Fonda moved to Kentucky while he attended the Kentucky School of Mortuary Science. For Sandy and Fonda this early time together in rural Kentucky, away from their Charleston family and friends, created a bond which lasted 57 years until Fonda's death in 2015. Sandy and Fonda's marriage was a true partnership, which others admired and envied. Together they raised their four children, Sandy, Jr., Timmy, Carol and Catherine in Hobcaw Point, Mt. Pleasant and enjoyed all life had to offer them. Sandy always spoke of his beloved Fonda with pride and reverence; there was never a question of how deeply he loved her and respected the strength she carried within her tiny 100 lb frame.
One of Sandy's countless legacies is his consummate expertise as an outdoorsman in the fields and on the waters of the Lowcountry. He was a founding father of saltwater fly fishing and an indisputable dead eye shot. His love of fishing led him to earn his captain's license, operate his own guide service, and be recognized by Field and Stream along with numerous other publications through the years.
The accolades were inconsequential to him - he simply loved the essence and sport of fishing. He, and his boat The Crowd Pleaser, were iconic in the Charleston community and on the waters of the Lowcountry. Although very few anglers possess his skills, it was his story-telling, humor, and the patience he displayed while teaching others which made him so well-respected.
Through guided fishing trips and quail hunts at Pinetop, Sandy Stuhr believed in and promoted conservation efforts his entire life. While in his company, he wanted you to have fun, and he instilled in you a respect and an understanding of the beauty and limited supply of the Lowcountry's natural resources.
Sandy's achievements extended beyond his persona as Captain of The Crowd Pleaser. The Post & Courier's article, "Charleston Mortician's Fishing Method Is Deadly" highlighted his impact both on the water and professionally. Contrary to most funeral service professionals in his day, Sandy was a visionary leader in his family's fifth-generation business. Although he possessed a strong business acumen, he maintained an attitude of humility and an understanding of the suffering of others. As a CEO, he knew when, where, and how to expand his family's business. He understood and loved the Lowcountry, its people, changes, and growth patterns. As a leader, his decisions came from a place of confidence, not ego. He dedicated his energies to ensuring the sustainability and excellence of a multi-generational funeral business for the benefit of his family, employees, and the greater community.
Sandy provided leadership in his service as President of the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association from 1978 - 1979. He advocated for South Carolinians, by initiating and lobbying for improvements in the state's pre-need funeral program. In his quest for funeral excellence, Sandy and J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. were invited to join Selected Independent Funeral Homes, where he ultimately served on their national board of directors.
Sandy was a proud Charlestonian and active in numerous organizations across the Lowcountry. He was a founding member of the Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited member and Life Sponsor, Rotary Club of Charleston member and Paul Harris Fellow, and a member of Etiwan Masonic Lodge in Mt. Pleasant. Sandy was a member of the Hobcaw Yacht Club, The Carolina Yacht Club, Mount Pleasant Cotillion, Honorary Life Member of the Hibernian Society and a Life Member of the German Friendly Society. Sandy was a faithful member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church. He was one of the original board members of Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina. With his leadership as Board Chairman, Sandy played an instrumental role in the success of Goodwill, which today operates as Palmetto Goodwill and continues its legacy of offering a "hand up" to community members in need.
A generous and ardent supporter of The Citadel, his dedication was evidenced by his attendance at football games, membership in the Summerall Society, and support of The Citadel Foundation, among many other college related activities. He maintained and cherished life-long friendships with his Citadel classmates.
Sandy was true to the people, places and practices he believed in. Captivating you with his charm, quick wit and infectious humor, he left you wanting more. He was a faithful husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend. For the past eight years he enjoyed the company of his Brittany Spaniel and faithful companion, Wego. His daughters see him as a feminist and a man in full. Others know him as Papa, Big Sandy, Senior, "For Outdoor Use Only," The Duke, or Captain Sandy. The essence of who he was - and always will be - simply cannot be confined to words. Well done, Captain, well done.
Sandy was preceded in death by his wife, Fonda; his sons, William Sanderson Stuhr, Jr., and Timothy Wrenn Stuhr; and his brother, J. Harry Stuhr, Jr.
He is survived by his daughters, Carol S. Kays (Charles R. Kays, M.D.) of Wilmington, NC, and Catherine L. Stuhr of Mt. Pleasant, SC; his grandchildren, Trey Stuhr, Courtney Stuhr, Josh Stuhr, Justin Stuhr (Dani), Andrew McKellar (fiance Susan Wilson), Alex McKellar (Joanna), Grace Kays, and Lilly Kays; great-grandchildren, Kimberly, William, Sophie, Jonathan, Lorelai, and Zayla; daughters-in-law, Lynne Stuhr of Moncks Corner, SC, and Pam Stuhr of Mt. Pleasant, SC; brothers, Frederick V. Stuhr (Sarah) of Wadmalaw Island, David B. Stuhr (Kay) of California, and Richard C. Stuhr (Karen Henriksen) of Charleston, SC; sister, Nancy Stuhr Jones; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Citadel Foundation (designated to J. Harry Stuhr Athletic Scholarship Fund), 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409; the Coastal Conservation Association, CCA South Carolina, 3021-10 McNaughton Drive, Columbia, SC 29223; Palmetto Goodwill, c/o Community Relations Officer, 2150 Eagle Drive, Bldg 100, North Charleston, SC 29406 or St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 604 Pitt Street, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464.
His Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, April 13, 2023 in the Summerall Chapel, The Citadel, with interment to follow in Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens. Friends may pay respects in the J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. Mount Pleasant Chapel, 1494 Mathis Ferry Road, Wednesday, April 12, 2023 between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. The family will be present for a visitation in the funeral chapel Wednesday between the hours of 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm.
Online Condolences: J. Henry Stuhr, Inc.