Cover photo for Ottis "Leo" Sanford's Obituary

Ottis "Leo" Sanford

October 4, 1929 — March 22, 2024

Ottis "Leo" Sanford

Leo Sanford joined his wife, Myrna, in Heaven on Friday, March 22, 2024, after 94 incredible years full of life.

 Leo was born on October 4, 1929, in Dallas, but he would tell you that the most important years of his life were spent in Shreveport. Here, he met and married Myrna Mims, raised his four children, established multiple businesses, and established a wide web of close friendships. He was intensely loyal to both Fair Park High School and Louisiana Tech University, where he claimed he enrolled because he thought the engineering program would give him the opportunity to drive trains.

 Humble to his core, Leo would never tell you any of his accomplishments. After playing for Joe Aillet’s Bulldogs in Ruston, Leo was drafted into the NFL and played for 9 seasons, during which he was the starting linebacker in two Pro Bowls, once ran an interception for a 92-yard touchdown which was part of the Baltimore Colts’ overtime win over the Giants in the 1958 National Championship game, often called “the greatest game ever played.” After retiring from the NFL, Leo was selected to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, awarded the Distinguished American Award from the NFL, and was selected as a member of the Independence Bowl Hall of Fame.

 From the NFL, Leo started in the sport equipment industry in North Louisiana eventually leading him to selling class rings, senior supplies and letter jackets with his partner, Roland Carter. They formed the company we now know as Graduate Sales. His legacy is still going forward today.

 Leo never once met a stranger, was never in too much of a hurry to turn down a cup of coffee and good conversation, and never had a bad day. He told great stories, and everyone has a story about Leo. There’s one about him wrestling a bear for extra money when the circus was in town -- he denied that one and in the same breath he claimed the bear was declawed. His personal favorite -- the cross-eyed javelin thrower. He might not have been good at his job, but he sure kept the crowd awake! This one captures his personality perfectly -- humble, irresistibly funny, and not the least bit concerned that people might not laugh at a joke they’ve heard one hundred times.

 Leo loved “good eatin,” dancing the jitterbug, Louisiana Tech, and his family. He made each of us feel like we were his favorite. Truthfully, we were all second to Myrna, his wife of 68 years, but his love was big enough to make four kids and their spouses, ten grandchildren, and twenty-two great-grandchildren feel like we were part of something special.

 Leo leaves a legacy of hard work, humility, and loyalty. He was an excellent friend, and he remained close with his Fair Park crew, meeting weekly at Southfield Grill until very recently. He and Myrna attended what must be a record number of Tech football games (both in Ruston and as far away as Hawaii), and they kept tabs on all their grandchildren’s accomplishments. Leo showed us all what a full life looks like. He lived with integrity, endless positivity, and appreciation for all life had to offer. Whether he sold you a ring, sat by you at a football game, or met you in the grocery store, the kindness he showed everyone was genuine. He was the real deal, and his big life left a big impression on us all.

 Leo is preceded in death by his parents, Erma Yarborough Sanford and Milton Sanford; his brother, Norvell Sanford and sister, Erma Dean Cox. He is survived by his sister-in- law, Annette Murray of Spring, Texas; sons, Steve Sanford and wife, Denise of Lake Charles and Stan Sanford and wife, Rhonda of Keithville; daughters, Sally Joiner and husband, Curt of Shreveport and Sheri Franklin and husband, Bobby of Lake Charles, and their families. The family would like to thank Ms. Gerry Milner for the loving and kind care she provided to Leo the last few years. The list of lifelong friends is too numerous to mention by name. We will all miss his enormous hugs, phone calls just to check in, and outlook that “everything’s going good like it should be.”

 The family would like to thank Julie for her outstanding nurse care, and his amazing caregivers, Tracy, Lula, Monique and Mesha.

 Family and friends are invited to attend visitation on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 2500 Southside Dr., Shreveport, Louisiana. A private family celebration of Leo’s life will be observed later.

Honoring Leo as pallbearers are his grandsons, Clint Sanford, Cris Sanford, Joseph Leo Sanford, Greg Smith, Michael Guyton, Cody Young, Collin Bantle, and Jonathon Clark. Serving as honorary pallbearers are National Association for the Advancement of Grandstand Quarterback members posthumous.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials may be made to La Tech Athletics and take Leo’s best advice, “Keep on keepin’ on.”

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ottis "Leo" Sanford, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Rose Neath Funeral Homes - Shreveport Southside

2500 Southside Dr., Shreveport, LA 71118

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