Bob Sanderson Obituary

Bob Sanderson (CR 1972-2007), a much-loved member of our community, sadly passed away on the 7th January after a long period of illness.

Bob arrived at Marlborough in 1972 having worked briefly in America and at Lancing College. He was an exciting geography teacher, but it was his time as housemaster of C3 (1984 -99) which made such an impact. His style was unique, and his boys knew he could run rings round them if need be and he would mimic their occasional crassness with a carefully framed sense of the ironic, but he did this with genuine care. There was something of a vintage BBC comic style about the way he ran C3 and the boys loved living in the sitcom he made for them.  Bob taught the confused teenage male mind many things, notably about the difference between cleaning and tidying, underlining that the cleaners should not have to do any tidying: unmade beds resulted in duvets being thrown out of the window and the grounds around house could sometimes be a sea of coloured pattern. Every opportunity to have fun was seized. On a fancy dress for charity day, he umpired a house cricket match dressed as Bugs Bunny. Although having a laugh with others was important to him, his boys knew that he was very serious about them getting things right.  Once a visiting prospective parent passed him when he was reprimanding a boy and the parent so impressed by Bob’s performance, he decided that Marlborough must be the right school.

Bob delighted in travel, with members of Common Room often enjoying the white-knuckle ride dashes to European cultural centres and geographical sites. It would be fair to say that driving was not one of his strengths, but there were no accidents worth mentioning and the shared travellers’ tales of colourful incidents formed a common bond between his friends. These expeditions involved a degree of ruthless Sandersonian discipline on the last day with great care being taken to ensure that the accommodation was left immaculate, involving housework at a very early hour because many miles lay ahead.  However, an important lesson was learnt by Bob after cleaned-out fire ash resulted in the porch of a Welsh cottage catching fire.

Meals with Bob were great occasions with local recipes and delicacies being regarded as geography lessons. His extraordinary knowledge of wine and vineyards (more geography) was something which he delighted in sharing with others, and he was an exceptionally generous host both in Europe and back home. In the background to meals or car journeys he loved to hear the voices of Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross: C3 dormitories were, of course, named after these divas.

Bob left C3 in 1999 and went on his second sabbatical or ‘Sabba-tickle’ as he called it.  He gave silly names to almost everything and everyone, and well-known litanies would result in tears of laughter. He became a much-loved tutor in B1 and he was a popular and tireless President of Common Room. His gifts for caring embraced the whole of Marlborough community, and he became a sort of housemaster to everyone. Marlborough was so lucky to have enjoyed the friendship and the service of such a very kind, colourful, bright, and amusing man.