Timothy John Sanford, 69, passed away on April 29, 2022 surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Shawkopee, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, his family relocated to Phoenix. He attended St. Mary’s for both Elementary and High School. Although quiet and shy, he said that playing football gave him confidence both on and off the field. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for the sport.
He received football and academic scholarships to Northern Arizona University where he held the record for the most career starts for many years. He earned both a bachelor’s degree in history and later a master’s degree in education. On Valentine’s Day in 1976 he married the love of his life Virginia “Ginger” Elias. Together they created a loving home for their three children.
He spent over 40 years in the classroom teaching a variety of high school math classes. Along with teaching, he began his coaching career at Moon Valley High School. In 1985, he was hired as the head football coach at Brophy College Prep. He was recently inducted into the Brophy Hall of Fame where he was recognized for his 18 years of service. He later went on to coach at Paradise Valley High School for several years. His first attempt to retire from coaching lasted less than five years. He then joined the coaching staff at Arizona Christian University. He “successfully” retired in 2019, so that he could spend more time with family and friends.
A history enthusiast, he especially loved researching and planning travel itineraries for their many trips within the US and abroad. He enjoyed spending a few weeks every summer at his favorite beach in Carlsbad, California. He loved returning to NAU for homecoming where he would reunite with his “Way Back Jacks” as well annual fishing trips with longtime friends.
He was an avid reader, enjoyed singing and playing the guitar. Above all, he loved spending time with his wife, kids, grandkids, and extended family. Some of his favorite times included hosting holiday parties, trips to Disneyland, Fourth of July at Camp Wilburn, and attending his grandkids’ sporting events and concerts.
He is preceded in death by his parents Wilford and Margaret, his sister Karen Salem, and brother-in-law, Paul Burr. He is survived by Ginger, his wife of 46 years, their children Kellie, Mike (Adrienne), and Brian, their grandchildren, Steven, Sofia, Zoey, and Ava, his siblings, Patricia Burr, Jim (Betty) Sanford, Shelley (Dan) Bieger, and brother-in law Al Salem, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He will be remembered for his soft-spoken manner and devotion to his family, friends, players, and students.
A vigil will be held on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. with a prayer service and tributes beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Brophy Chapel, 4701 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix. A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church, 4715 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix. The Mass will be live streamed at https://www.sfxphx.org/livestream .
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his memory to St. Vincent De Paul. Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com
For 10 years a thin wall separated Tim’s classroom from mine.. As a 47 year old new teacher , I needed guidance from a real professional. Tim was my mentor, my coach. I don’t have the words to express my sadness at the loss of Tim. I know that the world is a lesser place without him, and heaven is so improved by his presence.
MaryBeth and Bill Muellet
Please accept our sympathy and prayers! Sincerely Bill and MaryBeth Mueller
Nicolette M Frame
Tim was a blessing to St. Mary’s, Brophy and the entire community. It was an honor to have known and worked with him. Our condolences to the entire Sanford family.
Fred & Nikki (Mandigo) Frame
Ginger and family I was so sad to hear about Tim’s passing. My dad thought the world of Tim and I was always so happy when my mom would tell me updates on Tim’s coaching successes. He will be missed. Another great person and coach gone too soon.
Kathleen Putman Weitz
Robert J Kelly
I began working at Saint Mary’s High School in 1984. Tim’s big brother Jim was my first friend. That friendship has endured these many years. I spoke with Tim all too rarely. But whenever I did, I was reassured. I was reassured by his quiet, calming presence, and by his winning smile. That’s a good legacy. Tim was a good Fella…..
Ginger and family, I am so saddened to hear about Tim’s passing. Such a huge loss for your family. My condolences.
Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.
Bill & Bernadette Hanko
So sorry for your loss. There are many times I have wished we didn’t have to go through the pain of our loved ones leaving us in death and could be with us physically forever in health. I’m glad you and your husband had so many years of happiness and memories with each other and your children. Continue to share those memories and love with your children and grandchildren.
Former co-worker from St. Mary’s and Title 1