Mrs. Charlene Orr Saunders went into the eternal loving care of her Savior Jesus Christ on March 14, 2023, at the age of 95. A long-time resident of Savannah, GA, she was born November 19, 1927, in Murray, Kentucky to Goldie Orr and Laverne Outland Orr. She was preceded in death by her husband, Billy Joe (Bill) Saunders, whom she married in 1952. Together, Bill and Charlene have four children, Cindy Saunders Kemp (Franklin) of Slidell, LA; Shan Saunders (Julie) of Annapolis, MD; Chris Saunders (Elizabeth) of Hiawassee, GA; Russell Saunders (Kathy) of Aiken, SC; along with seven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.
After attending Murray State for two years, Charlene headed to Lexington, KY, where she graduated from the University of Kentucky. The adventurous graduate left her home state and went to Winslow, Arizona, where she taught physical education. On Christmas break in 1951, she returned to Murray and reconnected with Murray native, Bill Saunders, a WWII Army Air Force veteran, who was coaching and teaching at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN. They began a letter writing romance and were married six months later in Murray.
Charlene and Bill started their life together at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN for several years until daughter Cindy was born. They then moved to Houston, TX, and taught and coached at St. John’s Academy. Sons, Shan and Chris were born there. In 1958, they moved to Savannah to help convert the all-girls Pape School into a coeducational school which would become the Savannah Country Day School. Their son, Russ was born soon after their arrival in Savannah.
Charlene was a revolutionary in girls’ athletics. She developed the girl’s highly successful physical education program, along with the basketball and track programs. She worked the girls hard and encouraged them to compete in the state physical fitness programs. Her students came home with more than their fair share of honors. The school recognized her effort by naming its gymnasium the Charlene Orr Saunders Gymnasium.
In addition to their teaching and coaching duties, Charlene and Bill were charter members of the Windsor Forest Baptist Church in 1959. After retiring from coaching, they moved to Richmond Hill, GA on the Ogeechee River, where they hosted many oyster roasts and crab boils for family and friends. In 2008, they decided to make one more move, to Slidell, LA, to be close to their daughter Cindy.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at the J.H. Churchill Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Murray, Kentucky with burial to follow in the Murray City Cemetery. Visitation will be held prior to the memorial service on Saturday, April 29, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at the J.H. Churchill Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Bill & Charlene Scholarship Fund at Savannah Country Day School at 824 Stillwood Drive, Savannah, GA 31419-2642. Online donations can be made at https://www.savcds.org/giving/make-a-gift. (Under “Gift Designation”, type Charlene Saunders in the box, and the school will designate the gift to the Bill & Charlene Scholarship Fund).
Online donations can be made at https://www.savcds.org/giving/make-a-gift
Online condolences can be made at, www.thejhchurchillfuneralhome.com