Theodore K. "TK" Sanderson Jr., a retired Maryland Port Administration operations specialist who was also an avid outdoorsman, died Oct. 24 from complications of Alzheimer's disease at his White Marsh home overlooking the Bird River. He was 77.
"Ted was well-respected in our organization because he was extremely knowledgeable with our operating and engineering groups," said James J. White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration.
"When putting projects together, he'd look at them and make sure that they would work, and he was the guy who merged these two groups in order to make them work," said Mr. White.
Theodore Kay Sanderson Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised in Greenspring Valley. He was a 1953 graduate of St. Paul's School and earned his bachelor's degree in 1957 from the University of Baltimore.
Mr. Sanderson began his career as an executive trainee with the Alcoa Steamship Co.
"It was at this time that he learned to wear a suit to work and a hat. He was quite stylish," said his wife of 22 years, the former Frances Hunt.
In 1960, Mr. Sanderson went to work for what was then called the Maryland Port Authority, and by the mid-1960s he became assistant to the port authority's director of terminal operations.
"He was part of planning the port's development and was especially involved in the new Seagirt Terminal," his wife said. "It was the perfect job for him because he was not only behind a desk but he was out in the field. He knew everything about how the port functioned."
Mr. Sanderson later became an operations specialist, a position he retained until retiring in 1998.
Steve E. Franks, who lives in Fulton, Howard County, retired a year ago as manager for strategic planning for the port administration.
"I first met Ted in 1982 when we were doing a joint study with the Maryland Department of Transportation, and he showed me around the port because he was familiar with it and its industries," said Mr. Franks.
"Because of his experience, he was the go-to guy if you had a question. He was an incredibly patient man and could relate to the planning, operation and engineering of the port. He was a vital link between them," said Mr. Franks.
"He could work out all the details and Ted would give you the straight scoop," he said. "He was a mentor to me. He could explain the port and was willing to explain it."
At the time of his retirement, Mr. Sanderson was a project analyst in the MPA's Department of Engineering. A modest man, he quietly retired without any fanfare or party.
"You left so quietly that many of us did not have a chance to properly thank you for all your years of service to the Maryland Port Administration," wrote Mr. White, then the MPA's deputy executive director, in a letter.
"Few people can claim credit to a career of public service as long-lasting and as full of accomplishments as yours. You were truly one of the unsung architects of the resurgence of the Port of Baltimore and there are few places that you can go on any MPA terminal that were not touched by your efforts," wrote Mr. White. "Your knowledge of the design and engineering needs of a modern marine terminal was second to none."
Mr. Sanderson's joy of the outdoors went back to his childhood, when he roamed the woodlands near his home and his mother taught him gardening and later planted an arboretum of trees indigenous to Maryland.
When he was a youth, he had been a Boy Scout and as an adult, he was a leader for three troops.
"He made sure their time was packed with adventures, surprises, hikes and canoeing," said Mrs. Sanderson.
Mr. Sanderson was a longtime member and former president of the Mountain Club of Maryland. In addition to leading hikes on the Appalachian Trail, he coordinated regular maintenance of the trail, whose Maryland section is under the jurisdiction of the Baltimore-based hiking club.
For two decades, he was shelter chairman and was responsible for organizing the design, construction and maintenance of the four shelters and the outhouses that the club cares for on the Appalachian Trail.
Because of this work, Mr. Sanderson's email address was "outhouseted," according to his friends.
Duncan P. Crawford, a longtime club member, met Mr. Sanderson in 1996.
"He did so much for the club and whenever you went there, you saw him," said Mr. Duncan. "He was quiet, had a nice smile and never lost his temper. He led by example and got the best out of you."
In addition to leading hikes, Mr. Sanderson, who was an accomplished canoeist, took club members on an annual Eastern Shore canoe trip. He also liked canoeing in Maine, Canada and Arkansas.
At Marshy Point Nature Center in eastern Baltimore County, Mr. Sanderson enjoyed teaching at the summer canoe camp as well as instructing fourth- and fifth-graders on the Chesapeake Bay.
He established a butterfly garden at the center. He grew elderberries that were later used to teach children how to make elderberry jam.
"I met Ted in a canoe on one of the trips he had organized," said Mrs. Sanderson, who added that her husband led bike rallies on the Eastern Shore, where the participants had to search for clues to find the route.
"Somehow Ted's bike ended up in a tree at the end of the day. We always wondered how it got there," she said.
Mr. Sanderson applied his carpentry skills to the old home on the Bird River that he bought in 1977. He then proceeded to demolish it before rebuilding it.
Mr. Sanderson enjoyed working in his garden and canoeing on the Bird River.
Services are private.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Sanderson is survived by a stepson, John Meisz of Street; a stepdaughter, Theresa Meisz Proctor of Roland Park; a nephew; a niece; and four step-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun