African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) honors the life and service of our former trustee and board chair Stuart Saunders, who passed away in April from stroke-related complications.“AWF couldn’t have asked for a better friend than Stuart,” said Craig Sholley, AWF senior vice president. “We benefited tremendously from his oversight and his profound commitment to conservation as board chair, but also from his business-savvy insights, his keen wit, and a steadfast passion for Africa’s wildlife.”
Although Stuart retired as a trustee in 2003, he remained actively interested in AWF, and his health struggles after a stroke in 2009 didn’t impede his enthusiasm for our work. Regularly after receiving his copy of AWF’s member newsletter, African Wildlife News, Stuart called AWF’s District of Columbia office to express his pride in our conservation impacts. “And he always challenged us to do more,” says Sholley. “His love for Africa never faded.”
Stuart was a great story-teller, world traveler, and an avid outdoorsman who had many great fly-fishing adventures. He was passionate about good food, fine wine, music, and spending time with his family and many friends. At his home in later life, The Health Center of Beaumont at Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania, Stuart hosted a steady flow of visitors. His wife, Susanna Terrell Saunders, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Basically, he was bedridden for nine years, but he didn’t let that stop him. We had parties for him. He was a character.”
Stuart passed away peacefully at The Health Center on Thursday, April 25, 2019, surrounded by his loved ones. He is survived by several family members in addition to his wife: his sister, Laura Saunders Spratley; two brothers, Jesse Davidson Saunders and William Tazewell Saunders; his son Stuart Thomas Saunders III and partner Christopher Harrington Meredith; his son Charles Terrell Saunders and wife, Whitney Scarlett Saunders, and their three children Charles, Hudson, and Scarlett.
Stuart was born March 19, 1941, in Roanoke, Virginia, the son of Stuart Thomas Saunders and Dorothy Davidson Saunders. He graduated in 1960 from Episcopal High School in Alexandra, Virginia, where he made a lasting impression on classmates and faculty. He was a three-sport captain and also earned both the all-metropolitan and all-state honors in football.
Stuart went on to graduate with a degree in history from the University of North Carolina (UNC), where he was a member and “Rex” of The Order of Gimghoul, a secret society. He then attended the University of Virginia, where he earned his J.D. in 1967.
He joined Dechert LLP (formerly Dechert, Price, & Rhodes), specializing in banking and corporate law, and then went on to serve as executive vice president and general counsel at First Pennsylvania Corp. Stuart rejoined Dechert as a corporate partner in 1993 and retired in 2006.
Stuart had a strong sense of social responsibility and served on several boards besides AWF’s, including The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
All of us at AWF express our deepest sympathies to the Saunders’ family and friends and our profound appreciation for Stuart’s generosity of time and spirit and his unwavering support.