LAYTON — When Bill Sanders retired from his job in Florida and returned to Davis County, he probably never envisioned earning a lifetime achievement award for the job that brought him out of retirement.
But 14 years after taking over as director of Layton’s Heritage Museum, Sanders has been honored for his work with not only the museum, but with the Utah Museum Association as well.
“I would like to keep working,” said Sanders, 74. “Usually people get these awards when they retire. I hope people don’t think that’s what I’m going to do.”
During the Utah Museum Association Convention, Sanders was honored as the Outstanding Museum Professional for 2011 and was awarded the Phil Notarianni Award, which is known as the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sanders said he was shocked when he found out.
“They let me know the night before, so I could bring my wife,” Sanders said.
But to others, the award was not a surprise and was well-deserved.
“Over the past 10 years, Bill has single-handedly put Layton city and the Heritage Museum on the map throughout Utah as the model for small museums,” said Joy Petro, chair of the board of the Layton Heritage Museum.
Sanders was born and grew up in Kaysville. He spent eight years as a journalism instructor at Weber State before leaving the university to work on consulting projects for Westinghouse Electronics. The company offered Sanders a full-time public relations job in Florida, and Sanders spent 25 years in the sun.
In Florida, Sanders volunteered at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. When he retired and moved back to Davis County, Sanders was asked to join the Layton museum’s board of directors. The museum director left a short while later, and Sanders was appointed the new director.
“I only went to one meeting as a board member, then became a full-time employee,” Sanders said.
At that time, the museum was being remodeled after the city received a grant to add a lobby, conference room and offices. All of the artifacts were stored in the basement at the city headquarters, and that was where Sanders spent his time.
“My first days on the job were sitting in the basement with little light and a pile of all the things I need to make an inventory of and get on the computer,” Sanders said.
Sanders was the first Utah museum director to use the museum-archiving program PastPerfect. Since then, nearly every museum in the state has begun using the program. Sanders spent a lot of time sharing his knowledge and helping other directors learn the software.
“I’ve gone to quite a few museums in the last 10 years and told them my mistakes,” Sanders said.
He also has served on the Utah Museums Association board of directors for the past six years, representing small museums. He has helped arrange training sessions for small museums, where directors brainstorm ideas on how to cut costs and mount displays on shoestring budgets, as well as discuss the best ways to handle and store artifacts.
But Sanders’ passion still is the Layton Heritage Museum. Whether Boy Scouts, students, longtime Davis County residents or new arrivals walk through the museum, Sanders educates them all on Layton’s rich history.
“He has never been selfish with his time or knowledge and loves to educate all those around him,” Petro said. “He puts in countless hours and is creative in displaying artifacts with a clean professional appearance. He is one of the people that, the more you get to know him, the more you want to know.”