NEWBERRY – A plaque has been placed with honor at the Oakland Tennis Center’s pro shop in memory of Oliver “Bo” Sanders.
Previously serving in the United States Navy, Sanders came to work for the City of Newberry Utilities Department, later finishing his work career with the city’s recreation department.
Nicknamed “Bo” because of his bow legs, he lived in the Oakland community.
In 1976, the field at Oakland Park in Newberry, where the Oakland Tennis Center is now located, was named “Bo Sanders Field” in his honor.
Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director, Scott Sawyer said as city staff was going through the construction process of the tennis center, they were aware that they were moving a field that was dedicated to Sanders.
“We have been considering ways to maintain that recognition and honor that he received back in 1976,” Sawyer said.
After talking with several people within the community, Sawyer said city staff were able to get a little more background information on Sanders.
“We wanted to do something to ensure that his name was carried on,” Sawyer said. “Bo was before my time here in Newberry, but I have great respect for those who had a hand in shaping the lives of so many through the city’s recreation programs.”
The plaque reads that Sanders was more than just a recreation department worker, he was also a well-respected coach and mentor that always seemed to be around, encouraging young athletes without coddling them.
In addition to the plaque at Oakland Tennis Center, Sawyer said the original sign from Oakland Park naming the field after Sanders has been used to make a bench that was installed beside the pro shop at Oakland Tennis Center for the community to enjoy.
At the age of eight years old, Ronney Hunter, owner of Newberry Digital in Newberry said he recalled Sanders being in charge of all athletics.
Hunter said Sanders was always around and took great pride in the athletics program in Newberry. For year, following the end of their little league season, he said Sanders would always host a cookout for all the teams.
Because the field at Oakland Park was originally named after Sanders, Hunter said he wanted to make sure his legacy lived on for generations.
“I got involved because there were many of us wanting him [Sanders] to be recognized in the park,” Hunter said. “He was a good fellow and an integral part of the Newberry Recreation Department.”