Portrait of Andy Saunders Unveiled

October 26, 2015

Campus News, Fine Arts

Friends and family honored man-for-all-seasons Andrew F. “Andy” Saunders III as his portrait was unveiled during a reception October 22. The painting, by Russian-born artist Sergei Chernikov, now hangs in the Dining Hall alongside 10 other portraits commissioned by the Alumni Executive Board to honor faculty members who have made major contributions to Memphis University School. Saunders certainly qualifies.

From 1972-2010 he held a number of titles, including chair of the Fine Arts Department, director of dramatics, director of the theater, and technical director of the theater. He directed, produced, and designed and built sets for more than 135 plays and musicals.

“What was true of the sublime creation of the world was true of him and his work with MUS theater,” Headmaster Ellis Haguewood said at the reception. “‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.’ Or rigged.”

Saunders’ expertise was not limited to the stage, however. He coached football and taught a wide range of subjects, including Lower School science, biology, mechanical drawing, Bible, speech, astronomy, and photography.

A consummate professional and tireless volunteer, Saunders also has shared his time and talents with area theater organizations. The stage at Germantown Community Theatre bears his name.

Academic Dean Flip Eikner ’77, who benefited from Saunders’ expertise both as a student and colleague, eloquently summed up his friend and mentor’s versatility: “The traits that most people admiringly and fondly associate with Andy’s character are his sensitive acting ability, the clarity of his teaching methods, the breadth of his Renaissance-man erudition, his academic versatility, his remarkable design skill, his hearty and jovial laugh, his generosity with his time and talents and advice and philanthropy, and, especially, his operatic singing voice.”

Bob Fockler ’77, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, thanked Saunders for his guidance during his own student years as well as those of his son, Ted Fockler ’10, who is now teaching history at the school and serving as assistant director of theater.

“Andy’s portrait appropriately belongs on these walls amongst those of his peers and former co-workers,” the elder Fockler said. “His contributions to MUS are immeasurable.”

Fockler suggested that some time in the future, a Hyde Chapel production might call for the portrait of a “wise and loving patriarch to hang over the mantle on the set.

“What would be a more appropriate choice,” Fockler asked, “than to have this portrait make a cameo appearance on the MUS stage? I have no doubt that if that were to happen, the smile in the portrait would be just a little broader, just a little prouder.”

Saunders called on the MUS Hymn to express his gratitude to the school community.

“Dear MUS, How kind the fate that brought us to these halls …”

He spoke of the many kindnesses and accomplishments of colleagues, alumni, and students. He expressed his gratitude to the school for allowing him to be a jack of all trades and for embracing his family – his wife, Jean, an MUS Development Department assistant, their son, Jonathan, computer science and music instructor/assistant director of IT at the school, and their grandsons, Aidan ’21, and Jordan, a fifth grader at Presbyterian Day School.

“Dear MUS, How kind the fate that brought us to these halls,” Saunders repeated.

“The words for me are certainly appropriate, and absolutely true.”

To see more photos from the unveiling, click here.

The Alumni Executive Board initiated the portrait series in 2005 to honor MUS faculty members who have given much of their lives in service to the school. Each year the board commissions a new portrait, honoring the recipient in an unveiling ceremony.



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