Dr. Richard R. Sanderson, M.D. J.D.

Date of Birth

August 31, 1935

Date of Death

February 15, 2023

From Indiana to California and multiple destinations near and far, Dr. Richard Ray Sanderson lived a fascinating life of his own. His time came quickly yet naturally at home in Santa Barbara on February 15, 2023.

The son of a physician and a nurse, Dick (as known in his younger years) grew up in South Bend, Indiana with his older brother, David, and his beloved Scottish terrier, Rags. He attended John Adams High School and crafted his impeccable typing skills preparing invoices for his father’s medical practice. After graduating Sigma Chi from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s in philosophy and stints of summer adventure in the Tetons, he enlisted in the Army, learned Mandarin in Monterey, and bought a brand-new 1958 Corvette that he always regretted selling when shipping out to Taiwan as an Intelligence Specialist. Honorably discharged as a Sergeant (SP5), Richard headed to Northwestern University Medical School, joining the NU Sigma NU medical fraternity and playing in a band called The Foreskins. Then came an L.A. County internship, a Mayo Clinic fellowship, and his life-changing permanent move to Los Angeles with his collie, Sandy. His musical talents traveled with him, as he played the guitar and piano by ear. He continued traveling too, studying French in Paris for six months to fight off heartache.

Life as a doctor, including county jail shifts, apparently was not enough. Richard soon graduated from USC Law School and became a dual-practicing medical malpractice attorney and Kaiser surgeon. He also earned his private pilot’s license and enjoyed flying small aircraft throughout Southern California. Richard married a Los Angeles native, Diana, in 1971, adopted her daughter, Darlene, and welcomed his son, Ryan, in 1974.

After nearly three decades in Woodland Hills, with regular Hawaiian vacations to his favorite Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and many Mammoth ski trips, Richard lived briefly in Oxnard and Hollywood before retiring and relocating to Phoenix with his renewed love, Carol, their dogs, and his nostalgia-inspired 2001 Corvette. Some years later, after more travel to Europe and Asia, his return to California landed him in Pebble Beach with a docent position at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, followed by hospital volunteer work during his time in El Dorado Hills.

With a nod to his love of trains, Richard’s last stop was Santa Barbara. He arrived in 2017 and quickly became a well-known Harry’s regular while continuing to do part-time medical exam work up to the very end. His love of dogs never died, but his own death was a reality he long anticipated and addressed openly with dry humor, appreciating Bob Fosse’s film “All That Jazz” and remarking that he did not buy green bananas.

Considerate yet guarded, brilliant but unassuming, Richard lived 87 years as a stoic, deep-thinking figure of mystery. Now his cremated remains will be deposited in the ocean with no service, per his wishes. In fitting tribute, he has taken his place in good company on the wall at Harry’s!


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