Jake Sanders at the age of 100 has been lost and is presumed dead in the Amazonian rainforest where he has been working for the past 20 years as a fly-fishing guide, teacher and philanthropist.
Throughout his long and rich life, Jake was always known to do everything he could to bring sunshine to the lives of those around him. His interest in the Amazon was sparked as a young teenager when he was told by his great grandmother Helen of her harrowing tale of losing her hearing due to a tropical virus she contracted in Casablanca.
Jake was a graduate of the University of Montana where he majored in microbiology and philosophy. Jake walked on to the Grizzlies football team and earned all American honors during his Junior and Senior years in college. He was then taken in the first round of the NFL draft By the Houston Texans. Jake had a very successful NFL career but the sport he always loved best was wrestling. (He also participated in Track and Field - but only at his mom’s strong urging).
After his pro football career, Jake established The Sunshine Foundation, a charitable nonprofit devoted to bringing happiness and joy to other people.
Later in life he enjoyed stints as a professional chef and fly-fishing guide. Jake highly admired the sensibilities of the renowned raconteur and bon vivant, Anthony Bourdain and was known to affect Bourdain’s personal style of blue jeans and cowboy boots.
Jake enjoyed traveling the world to fly fish and he worked for 20 years as a fly fishing outfitter and guide. He was always seeking adventure in the beautiful out-of-doors.
No matter where in the world Jake found himself he always said the same thing: “This place is great, but I like Montana better. These people are real nice but my friends from Darby are the best people I’ve ever met any place in the whole wide world.
Of course he was referring to his dearly loved mentors, friends, classmates and teammates from the Bitterroot Valley who are too numerous to name and whom, regrettably, this writer has not had the pleasure and honor to know. But you know who you are and you know Jake will always love you.
Jake traveled widely, love well and always brought sunshine and joy to everyone around him. He placed the well-being of others before himself and was known throughout his long life as a generous and gentle soul; a man of courage and great good humor who could always be counted upon by his family and dear friends to lend a sympathetic ear or a strong shoulder to cry on.
During the many decades of his long and successful life Jake devoted himself to helping others while he enjoyed many adventures and diverse pursuits. Known as Sunshine, he truly brought a beautiful bright light to each and every day of his life and all of the incredible friends and family whom he loved; and all of them were so blessed to have ever known him.
That’s one story.
Another story is this: Jake passed away at home in Darby on Wednesday October 10, 2018 at the age of 20 years old. He was surrounded by loving family and friends; in this place he loved and where he had been blessed beyond comprehension by an entire community of compassionate and giving people who sacrificed their time treasure (and sleep!) to comfort Jake and his loving mother Debi Sanders while they welcomed him home and then wished him bon voyage on his eternal journey.
The gratitude of Jakes family cannot be expressed in words.
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