James E. Saunders, aged 90, died Monday, May 20, 2019, at home in Danville, Calif., of natural causes.
He will be fondly remembered by his wife of 35 years, Evon Sarment; two daughters Diane Saunders Wright (John), and Laura Saunders Dunn; his son James E. Saunders, Jr.; his stepdaughter Sally Carmody; and eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
He was born on October 31, 1928, in Kansas City, Mo., but was raised primarily in Park Ridge, Ill. He graduated from Maine Township High School in 1946 where he still holds the Track and Field Record for the Quarter Mile. He attended Iowa State Teachers College on a track scholarship. In 1948, he married his first wife, Marilyn Roe Saunders, with whom he raised his three children until her death in 1980.
Also in 1948, he started what would be a 45-year career in the auto rental business initially in the family-owned Saunders Drive It Yourself System, the company founded by his father, Joe Saunders, which birthed the rental car industry. Over the course of his career, he also worked for Avis, Hertz and Dollar Rent a Car in executive capacities.
An avid golfer, he was a member of the Castlewood Country Club. One of his proudest achievements was being elected to the Board of Directors, and ultimately elected as President in 1999. After his term ended, he became a Trustee of that establishment.
He also was active in his Diablo West Home Owners Association. After ending his term as president at Castlewood, he successfully ran for the HOA Board of Directors and was subsequently elected President of that body, as well. He spent several years as the Chairman of the Architectural Design Committee as well as initiating the Neighborhood Watch program.
In recent years, he could be seen riding his electric wheelchair around the Diablo West greenbelt with his canine companion, Rascal.
Laid to rest at Memory Gardens Cemetery, Livermore, Calif. Callaghan Mortuary is honored to be serving the Saunders family. An online guestbook is available for condolences at www.callaghanmortuary.com.