(ATLANTA) Ruth Virginia Kirby Sanders died peacefully after a brief illness on Jan. 30, 2021.
She was born Feb. 13, 1931 in Woodland, Ala., to Gertrude and Thomas Kirby, the sixth of seven children. She had an exceptional professional and academic career, but always emphasized that family should come first.
Mrs. Sanders graduated from Woodland High School and earned a B.S. from Jacksonville State College and a M.S. from the University of Alabama. In 1956 she moved to Atlanta to teach physics at Henry Grady High. She transferred to Lakeside High in 1970, where she served as science department chair and physics teacher. She was a nationally recognized leader in science education and participated in the national Physical Science Study Committee tasked with reforming high school physics in the 1950s and 1960s. She also helped establish and taught in the Georgia Governor's Honors program which continues today. She was known as "Mother Physics" to her students, many of whom won top honors at the Westinghouse and International Science Fairs, and subsequently became leading scientists and researchers themselves.
Mrs. Sanders was an active member of Glenn Memorial Methodist Church, an ardent supporter of Emory University and the Candler School of Theology and a longtime member of Alpha Delta Kappa (international honorary for women educators), Decatur Lions Club and Green Thumb Garden Club.
Mrs. Sanders was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Eugene Hendrix Sanders; and six brothers, Lawrence Kirby (Lorene), Robert Kirby (Jane), Dr. Thomas Kirby, Charlie Kirby (Mary), Kelly Kirby (Atha) and Frederick Kirby. She is survived by sisters-in-law, Frances Kirby and Chris Kirby; nieces and nephews, Lawrence Kirby (Donna), Cheryl Upton (Bill), Charline Cole, Charlotte Brazelton (Mike), Elizabeth Bennett (Frank), Darden Kirby (Priscilla), Farley Kirby (Mary), Marsha Bentley, Myron Kirby (Melanie), Jan Stroud, Ken Kirby, Timothy Kirby (Sharon), Nandell Coursey (Rick), Gloria Costigan (Richard), Lydia Ann Breedlove, Mary Houston (Tennent); and numerous great-nieces, -nephews and cousins.
A virtual memorial service will be hosted by Glenn Memorial Church via Zoom and on the church's Facebook Live page on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. Family and friends are asked to contact the church for reservations. Private graveside services will precede the virtual memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Sanders requested that memorial contributions be made to the public school of the donor's choice.
A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, Decatur, Ga.