Wayne was on the school board that built the first campus away from Antilley and Buffalo Gap Road, and Nancy was the district’s first computer teacher.
Together, the couple are going into the Wylie Hall of Honor for their contributions in making Wylie what it is today.
“We consider this a very big honor,” Wayne said. “I was very humbled.
We really do appreciate it.”
Nancy grew up in Abilene and graduated from Wylie in 1959. Wayne grew up in St. Louis, Mo., and after graduating high school in 1960, he joined the Air Force and was sent to basic training in San Antonio and then assigned to Dyess Air Force Base.
“I came to Abilene on a train, and I stepped off the train and thought, what did I do during basic training that they sent me to Abilene,” he said.
But it was here that he met Nancy. They married in 1964.
After his Air Force service, Wayne worked as an electrician and in the construction business before starting his own business, Sanford Construction LLS. He built a home for his family on Weatherman Lane in the Potosi area in 1968. That led to him developing three different subdivisions in the Potosi area, long before Potosi became the hotbed of new housing that it is today.
Wayne and Nancy have lived in many of the homes that he built. He said in their 57-year marriage, they have lived in 26 different houses, all within a five-mile radius of each other in the Potosi area.
In 1976, Wayne was asked to run for the school board with the thought that his construction knowledge might prove useful to the district. At the time, the entire district was located at the corner of Antilley and Buffalo Gap Road in several buildings on one campus.
“My experience in construction was really the reason I got on the board,” he said. “That was about the time that Wylie was looking at expanding. I thought my experience in construction would help Wylie during that time.”
The board passed a bond election in 1978 and began construction on a new high school. That building is now the east side of Wylie West Junior High.
Wayne said money was very tight in those days because many of the businesses, including the hospital and medical district, were not here yet.
“We were mostly a residential tax base,” he said. “It was hard to get things done. As the construction growth came, that’s when we were having enough money for the kids. Wylie was fortunate being in the growth pattern of the city of Abilene.”
But he said the community supported the new high school with little debate.
“Everybody was for it,” he said. “People realized we did not have enough room at that one location. The logical thing was to locate properties a little bit farther out. But we did not have enough money to buy kitchen equipment. The kids had to eat a lot of sandwiches for a while.”
Wayne was president of the board for six years before stepping down
Meanwhile, Nancy had graduated from McMurry in 1973 and gone to work for two architectural firms, where she learned to use computers. When Wylie got its first computers in 1985, she was hired to be the first computer teacher.
She taught under Superintendent Joey Light when he was a principal.
“She loved computers,” Light said. “She loved spreadsheets. She loved all of it. Her love for the technology was contagious.”
Nancy said she did love computers, but she loved the kids more.
“My philosophy was love your kids,” she said. “Take care of your kids, and everything else will take care of itself. I loved the kids.”
The Sanfords are longtime members of Wylie Baptist Church. They have two children, Shanna Alvarez, a 1982 Wylie graduate, and Bo, a 1988 graduate. Both of their children and their son-in-law Rey, now work at the construction business with their dad.
Longtime friend John Fanning said the Sanfords were always involved in community service, and Wayne volunteered his time for the district during a time when it needed the help.
“Wayne has always been a hard worker, and he has always been up for a challenge,” Fanning said. “He accepted the challenge for the district. He put in a lot of hours for the district.”
Wayne said he believed that everyone has a responsibility to do their part.
“I always felt like you have a responsibility of representing your country, working with the city that you live in and with the school district where your kids go,” he said, adding that Wylie has excelled because of strong administrators and school board members, plus involved parents, along with good teachers.
“That’s what makes something successful is when everyone is working together to accomplish the goal,” he said. “Wylie has had that. It sure is a good school district, and I think the future is going to be really good for Wylie.”