1958 - 2021
Funeral Mass
Dec, 4 2021
American Martyrs Catholic Church
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Robert Charles Saunders
August 15, 1958 – September 27, 2021
Celebrating a life well-lived

Bob Saunders passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on September 27, 2021, after a courageous 4-year battle against cancer. He was 63 years young. A Manhattan Beach resident for 29 years, Bob was a beloved husband, father, brother, coach, mentor, and friend to everyone he met.

The son of Barbara and David Saunders, Bob was born and raised in Southern California. He graduated from Royal Oak High School in Covina in 1976 were he played football and baseball all four years. Bob graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Business. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and later served on their Corp Board. Bob loved all sports and was quite the adventurer. After college he skied and traveled throughout Europe and played on several local baseball and softball teams throughout Southern California known as the "Free Agents."

Bob began his career in the brokerage industry in 1982 at Dean Witter and earned his degree as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) in 1985 from USC even though Bob was a UCLA Bruin to his core. He was the Vice President and Wealth Advisor for Dean Witter / Morgan Stanley Beverly Hills for 39 years. It's no surprise that he was also the commissioner of their softball league for more than a decade. He treated his clients and coworkers like family and was so proud to have his son, Ryan, partner with him at Morgan Stanley this year.

For 20 years, Bob served on the tournament committee for the Nissan/Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. He met his wife, Diane, running the Tournament in February 1993, they were engaged by Thanksgiving and married at American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach on October 8, 1994.

Bob worked hard and played even harder. He was an avid snow skier, scuba diver, golfer, and outstanding water skier. He infused his love of snow and water sports among his family and friends teaching others how to waterski, wakeboard or wake surf on trips to Lake Mead, Lake Tulloch, and his happy place, Lake Tahoe.

Bob had a passion for the game, almost any game. He coached flag football, soccer, basketball, and little league for the past 20 years to hundreds of children in Manhattan Beach. Most weeknights he led games or practices and most Sundays he mapped out the lessons, plays and lineups for the week. When creating teams, it was never about choosing the best athletes. He wanted players that would show up, were eager to learn and had supportive parents. He was always positive and helped so many of our children find their best selves through sports.

Bob and Diane served on the Board for Olive Crest Homes and Services for Abused Children for 28 years. Together they raised funds and awareness helping thousands of children and families in Southern California find safety through foster and adoptive services. Bob loved the annual foster family picnics, holiday toy drives, adopt-a-family and mentorship programs.

Although small in stature, Bob was larger than life. He was outgoing, generous, positive, athletic, funny, intelligent, honest, and deeply loved by his family and friends. He could often be found in the gym at MCC, running the chains at Costa football games, at "beach club", or driving his golf cart to breakfast with his daughter, Kelli. He was the life of the party -- often the first to arrive and the last to leave as if he knew his time on earth was short.

Throughout his difficult journey, Bob was incredibly positive and never let cancer get in the way of life and living. Grateful for his faith, family, and friends, Bob approached each day as a glorious gift and lived life to its fullest.

Bob is survived by his wife Diane, children Ryan and Kelli, sister Anne (Chresten) Nelson and their sons Brett (Patty) Nelson and Eric (Lauren) Nelson, brothers/sisters in-law Mark (Yvette) Giese, Karen (Randall) Heard, Eric (Sandy) Giese, Janet Giese, Susan (Larry) Giese, sixteen nieces and nephews and four grandnieces/nephews. Bob will be reunited in heaven with his parents Barbara and David Saunders, Diane's parents Chip and Sylvia Giese who passed in May this year and sister-in-law, Laura Vondermeulen

The Funeral Mass and Celebration of Life for Bob is Saturday, December 4, 2021, at Noon at American Martyrs Catholic Church at 700 15th Street Manhattan Beach. All who knew Bob and the Saunders family are welcome to attend. The celebration will continue at a reception at American Martyrs following the service. The mass will be livestreamed on the day of the service and available for several weeks at Please bring a picture or memory to the service or share tributes for Bob on Caring Bridge at

To honor Bob, please donate to Olive Crest or the UCLA Johnson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
In the words of John Wooden, "Players with fight never lose a game, they just run out of time." We love you, Bob.
Published by The Beach Reporter on Nov. 18, 2021.
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Funeral Mass
American Martyrs Catholic Church
624 15th Street, Manhattan Beach, CA
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