Dr. Lorne Sanny, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, died March 28 of complications of pneumonia after several months of serious health issues and recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He was 84.
Born to Charles and Emma Sanny of Granville, Iowa, on November 22, 1920, and raised in LeMars, Iowa, a key commitment to Jesus Christ in his teen years would direct his life.
He attended Bible Institute of Los Angeles, where he met and joined The Navigators, a Christian ministry founded by Dawson Trotman to help people “know Christ and make Him known.”
Lorne married Lucy in 1943 and started a family not long after. In the midst of their very active ministry lives, they raised six children.
For 15 years, Sanny served as Trotman’s understudy, including seven years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as director of counseling and follow-up. When Trotman drowned in 1956, Sanny was his natural successor, called by God to lead the rapidly expanding worldwide work of The Navigators.
During Sanny’s 30-year tenure as president and general director of The Navigators—which had moved from Southern California to Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs in 1953—The Navigators grew from a staff of 171 in fewer than a dozen countries to 2,580 in 71 countries. Today 4,027 Navigator staff work in 110 countries, among 214 people groups, and in 161 languages.
After stepping down as president and general director of The Navigators in 1986, Sanny continued as chairman of the U.S. Board of Directors until 1993. He developed and served the Navigator Business and Professional Ministries, The Navigators’ marketplace outreach. Sanny continued to be a valued resource to Navigator staff worldwide, a mentor to Christian businessmen, and an active participant in his local church, First Evangelical Free Church, until his death.
Among his many accomplishments is the development of follow-up material for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Christian Management Association named him Christian Manager of the Year in 1987. Late last year, he was awarded Discipler of the Year by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In 1972 Talbot Theological Seminary conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
“What I’ve come to learn is that, though Dawson Trotman was the founder of The Navigators, Sanny was the builder of The Navigators,” said Jerry White, who succeeded Sanny as The Navigators’ third president in 1986. “He gave it focus, direction, and purpose. He was a godly man, one of the most humble men I’ve known, and a wise leader who had a sense of where The Navigators ought to go. I saw him last week, and we reflected on God’s leading. He told me, ‘Jerry, I’ve accomplished everything God wanted me to do. It’s hard to leave the family, but this is right.’ While we will miss Lorne, he was ready and considered this to be a promotion.”
Mike Treneer, who replaced White as international president of The Navigators in January, said: “While our hearts grieve with Lorne’s family at the loss of a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, we rejoice with Lorne Sanny at his victorious entrance into the presence of the Savior he loved and served so faithfully and fruitfully. The Navigators were privileged to be led for 30 years by a devoted servant of Jesus Christ, a committed mentor of many, and a gifted teacher of God’s Word. For those of us who pick up the torch from him, Hebrews 13:7 is an appropriate exhortation: ‘Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.’ ”
A public memorial service was held Sunday, April 3, in the Great Hall of the Castle at Glen Eyrie, The Navigators’ worldwide headquarters.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers memorial gifts be sent to:
Sanny Glen Eyrie Fund
P.O. Box 6000
Colorado Springs, CO 80934
The fund’s purpose is to sustain the future discipling ministry of Glen Eyrie, a passion on Sanny’s heart since The Navigators first moved to Colorado Springs in 1953.
Would you like to read more about Lorne Sanny’s life? His biography, With Integrity of Heart and Skillful Hand, by Betty Lee Skinner, will inspire you and motivate you in your walk with Christ.