In memoriam: Steve Sanders

Steve SandersFollowing more than two years of active treatment for an aggressive brain tumor, Steve Sanders, 52, former president of the OHSU Foundation, died at home surrounded by family on friday, April 23.

Steve joined the OHSU Foundation in April 2005, and led the university’s fund-raising effort through the successful conclusion of the Oregon Opportunity campaign. As OHSU’s first comprehensive advancement campaign, the public-private initiative raised $378 million in private donations, leveraging $200 million in public funds to expand OHSU’s ability to serve Oregonians. During his leadership, Steve initiated the planning and initial implementation of the university’s current $100 million Faculty Support Initiative. Before coming to OHSU, he served as the vice president for development programs at the University of Iowa where he led the institution’s $1 billion fundraising campaign.

After illness finally caused him to put his career on hold in 2009, Steve remained a passionate supporter and grateful patient of OHSU. Nearly a year after his initial diagnosis, this normally very private person courageously stood before a large crowd of OHSU supporters, employees and news cameras to help announce the landmark $100 million donation to OHSU’s cancer institute from Phil and Penny Knight. No one in that audience will ever forget the impact of Steve’s carefully measured remarks of hope that cancer might one day be cured.

“Steve was incredibly committed to the mission of OHSU and the OHSU Foundation,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson. “His passion for the mission was fueled by a strong belief in the talented people who carry it out, and this was highly evident as I worked with him. He was a kind, generous and considerate man and will be sorely missed.”

Steve was born January 27, 1958, in Philadelphia. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he graduated cum laude from Central Missouri State University in 1981 with a degree in organizational communications. He is survived by his wife Donna, a daughter, Caitlin, and a son, Kyle. 

Memorial gifts will be directed to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

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