Sherman Saunders was born on a farm in Ringgold, Virginia. He is one of three children – having one sister and one brother. As a child, he attended Hickory Tree Elementary under the tutelage of Ms. Alice Haden Merritt.
In 1963, he saw Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This impressed him greatly and inspired him to strive to follow his teachings/beliefs. He was in awe of the man who had the capability to become financially successful, but chose to give it up to continue his quest to create a better world.
Sherman served three years in the US army – which included eighteen months in Germany. He was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.
After serving his country, Sherman decided to come home to Danville to further plant his roots. He worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, but decided to leave the company to pursue a career in community work.
Sherman began working at Pittsylvania County Community Action, INC in 1970. His career path began as a community outreach worker. He was then promoted to Employment Services Director and shortly after, gained the promotion of Executive Director.
Through it all, Dr. King’s message continued to follow Sherman throughout his career and desire to involve himself in more community projects. He was Vice President of the Virginia Community Action Agency in 1981 and became president in 1982. 1984 – 1988, he was a board member and Membership Chairman of National Community Action Agencies (that spanned all 50 states). For many years, he served on the Board of Directors for Danville Chamber of Commerce as well a member of Danville City Council.
Sherman has also received many gubernatorial appointments including Governor’s Manpower Planning Council and Virginia Block Grants Commission.
He has had the pleasure of serving Danville as Vice Mayor from July 2006 – December 2007. He became Mayor on January 1, 2008 and kept that seat until June 30, 2016.
Other honors Sherman is proud to share include attending the inauguration of President Obama on January 20, 2009 as well as meeting and shaking hands with Obama in April 2012.
Sherman Saunders is a great staple of the Danville community and we salute him as one of our featured “Local Heroes.”