"Uncle Wilroy had been kind of going down this summer. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer but had been able to work through it [for a while]. He went into hospice care a few weeks ago," Ivory said.
"We're still trying to determine how many grandchildren, how great grandchildren," said Ivory, who is assisting Sanders' widow, Dorothy Mae Tucker Sanders, with funeral arrangements.
A Korean War veteran, Sanders presided over the vital Green's Lounge scene and, along with such artists as Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, and Othar Turner, was a key figure in the Mid-South's fruitful traditional blues scene in the 1990s. He was featured in the 1999 documentary and soundtrack album Will Roy Sanders: The Last Living Bluesman on Shangri-La Projects.
"There were a lot of people who really adored him and really appreciated his music, but I didn't feel like — and I don't think he felt like — he ever really got his due," Ivory said.
Green's Lounge burned down roughly a decade ago, but most recently, in the middle of the past decade, Sanders and the Fieldstones had been performing the club the Blue Worm. Ivory says that her great-uncle hadn't performed in a couple of years.
Ivory says that there will be a wake for Sanders from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 24th at J.E. Herndon Funeral Home. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, February 25th, at New Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, with burial following at the veteran's burial ground at Forest Hill-Irene.
Those wishing to assist in the cost of Sanders' funeral and burial can contact Ivory at Candice@candiceivory.com or at 773-577-9655