About 1,000 people gathered Saturday at Bethany Baptist Church in Puyallup to remember James Sanders, the 43-year-old Edgewood man shot dead in his home during an April 28 robbery.
Those who spoke remembered Sanders as a man who loved God, his family and making jokes.
They praised him for having the courage to protect his family. Sanders was shot while trying to defend his wife and their two sons during the robbery, authorities said.
“Jim was an extraordinary example of a real man, a provider, and ultimately, a protector,” said his brother, Derek. “I can only hope to be half the man he was.”
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George Bedlion, Bethany Baptist Church’s senior pastor, said Sanders’ actions embodied a passage from the book of John in the New Testament: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
“That here just seems to fit, because Jim laid down his life for his family,” Bedlion said. “That is the highest and greatest and most wonderful thing.”
Sanders brought others closer to God during weekly Bible studies at his house, Bedlion said.
Family members said Sanders also enjoyed traveling with his family to the Caribbean and Florida, a fact alluded to by sea stars and decorative palm trees at the memorial service.
His family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors flooded Bethany Baptist Church’s sanctuary Saturday, quickly filling a room that church leaders said seats 700 to 800 people. A few hundred others watched a video feed of the memorial in other rooms of the church.
Jimmy Jr., 14, said his dad was his hero he will continue to emulate as he grows up. The night James Sanders was shot, Jimmy Jr. was pistol-whipped while struggling with the robbers.
“Rest assured, I will become the man my father wanted me to be,” he said. “I know that my dad is watching over me.”
Melissa Santos: 253-552-7058 melissa.santos@ thenewstribune.com