Theodore Robert Zanders Sr. thumbnail

Theodore Robert Zanders Sr.

September 9, 1925 - January 21, 2017

Theodore Robert Zanders Sr., most recently of Heber City, Utah, passed away peacefully on January 21, 2017 at the Assisted Living community where he had lived for the past 2 years with his wife Doris.  He was 91.

Ted was born on September 9, 1925 in Springfield IL to Anthony John and Mary Agnes Zanders (Power). He graduated from Springfield High School 1942. He received his Bachelors, Magna Cum Laude from American University 1974 in Administration of Justice and his Masters of Science in Special Studies-Management from George Washington University 1976.

Ted’s journey through life led him to many places in the USA and the Far East.  He began by helping in his dad’s grocery store in Springfield by stoking the coal stove each morning, stocking the shelves, cleaning up and “any other thing the older kids didn’t want to do”.  He later drove a truck for a produce company prior to enlisting in the Navy’s V-5 aviation program in 1943.  He was about to complete this training when WWII in the Pacific ended. He chose not to reenlist.

Back in Springfield he saw an advertisement in a newspaper asking for applicants to the Border Patrol and the District of Columbia police department Ted took and passed both exams.  Deciding that “The Texas border was too hot” he became a Metropolitan Police Officer in Washington DC joining the force in 1951.  It was then that he married “the love of my life” Doris Jane Haigh on October 6th, 1951.

While on the police force, Ted moved steadily up in rank from a private assigned to the first precinct, to the assistant chief of police at his retirement in 1977.  At various times during his career he was the commanding officer of precinct four; Commander of the Planning and Development Division where he drafted the policy and orders for the 1969 and 1973 inaugurals for Richard Nixon and established the department’s first helicopter branch, bomb disposal unit and the narcotic and explosives K-9 teams.

After his appointment as Deputy Chief of Police he headed the Special Operations and Civil Disturbance Unit from 1970 -1973 and then the Criminal Investigations Division  from 1973-1974.  He was appointed Assistant Chief in March of 1974.

He did much to reorganize and modernize the department’s various divisions and received recognition for his handling of the 1969 inaugural and the various mass demonstrations during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  These successes led to him being asked by the Republican Party to head up the security for the 1972 Republican convention in Miami. He was the first person in the country to devise a plan to organize four separate police agencies, their communications and support elements, into one operational force for an event such as this.  The success of this operation led to him being requested in 1976 to do the same for the Republican convention in Kansas City.

It also led to his being invited to Tokyo and Hong Kong to exchange operational and management procedures with their police departments. During this time he was in demand as a lecturer on management, police administration and policy at the University of Maryland, University of Louisville and various agencies in the State Department and Military branches. While doing this he made the time to pursue his education by attending night school.

After retiring, he and Doris and their youngest son, Paul, moved to Arizona where they lived from 1978 to 1996.  They then followed their desire to be close to their kids and grandkids.  They built themselves dream homes in Bluffton, SC., Ashburn, VA and Midway, UT.

He used his hands to finish the unfinished basements in his and Doris’ first two homes cleared the ½ acre lot of their second home and turned it into a beautiful place to relax, play badminton and croquet and to garden.  He was known around the Vienna, VA neighborhood as “Chief” and would pitch in to help a neighbor remodel their basement, fix a door or figure out why the lawnmower wouldn’t start. Ted was a “yard guy” and he and Doris had one of the prettiest yards with roses, azaleas, hollies, dogwoods and white birches. This love of gardening was passed on to all three of their kids.

Ted could fix almost anything, loved to cook out, host parties with friends and family and knew how to cut up with adults or kids.  He would occasionally break out in song, “When Irish Eyes are smiling” was a favorite, and he and Doris loved their Dachshunds.  Known by all to be friendly, kind and generous, he was a man devoted to his family. Although he had numerous professional accomplishments, his relationships with his children and grandchildren brought him the greatest joy.

He was the youngest of six children and was predeceased by all: Marie Govern, Marguerite Thompson, Joseph, Clara Lord and Louise Wagner.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years Doris Jane Haigh Zanders, his children: Theodore Robert Zanders Jr. (Linda Martin), Suzanne Carol Ruhlman (Donald) and Paul Kevin  (Roma); grandchildren Erin Alyssa Zanders, Aidan Niall Zanders, and  Abigail Caroline Ruhlman; a step grandchild Elizabeth Martin Koenig; numerous nephews, nieces and great nephews and nieces.

Ted will be laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery in Springfield, IL in his family’s plot.  In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Dollard-Suter Family Fund at or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.   Visitation will be Saturday January 28, 2017 at Staab Funeral Home from 9:30 – 10:30 am, with graveside services held at Calvary Cemetery at 11:00 am.

The Zanders family would like to thank the staff at The Abbington Assisted Living Community for their support, their kindness and their love and care given to Ted.  The family would also like to thank the parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Park City for their devotion to keeping Ted a part of their church family when he could no longer attend services as often as he desired.

Visitation Information

Date: Saturday, January 28, 2017

Time: 09:30 am - 10:30 am

Staab Funeral Home - Springfield


1109 South Fifth Street
Springfield, Illinois 62703

217-528-6461 Map

Service Information

Date: Saturday, January 28, 2017

Time: 11:00 am

Cemetery Information

Date: Saturday, January 28, 2017

Memorial Information

In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Dollard-Suter Family Fund at or The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

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