The East Mountain community remembers Moriarty High School math teacher Will Sadler this week following his death on Feb. 14. He was also a youth minister at Valley View Christian Church in Edgewood.

Sadler’s wife of 14 years, Sarah, remembers her husband fondly as a kind man who loved helping kids. She said he was very active in the community.

He taught math at Moriarty High School starting in 2018, and had tutored math for many years prior to his teaching job.

Sarah Sadler said her husband hadn’t planned on being a teacher, but his involvement with the youth groups at church and his tutoring led him to it.

“He was gifted in relating to youth, listening to kids and getting through to teenagers. Kids reached out to him. Sometimes he would even get calls at 3 o’clock in the morning,” she recalled. “Even in the face of suicide, a person on the ledge in life. He talked them down and made sure they didn’t feel alone. He always had that heart for the youth.”

Both Sadlers have been active members of Valley View Christian Church in Edgewood; the couple was married and baptized in the church.

Sarah Sadler is currently the church’s Children’s Ministry Director. Will Sadler was a Youth Minister and part of the worship team, playing the piano and singing, for the past 14 years. He impacted lots of people in the church through both interests, she said.

Candace Bell met Will Sadler at church, when her kids were attending the youth group at ages 14 and 16.

She remembers him as, “relatable,” and said he would make it a point to talk to people.

She added, “I valued him for his input in my kids’ lives. He was a good friend and confidant to them.” She said that even during college, her daughter, now 24, would get together with Will Sadler and kept in touch with him after she left home.

And her son, now 21, played with him in the worship band at church. Both of them returned to New Mexico from out of state to attend the memorial service at the church.

will sadler

Libbie Shaffer photographed CIY (Christ in Youth) summer camp for high schoolers, where Will Sadler was a chaperone.

Samuel Bell said when he first met Will Sadler he didn’t have any friends because he had recently moved into the state. He said, “Will was the first person I felt really comfortable around after moving, and I felt important and loved.”

Over time, Samuel Bell and Sadler became friends and ended up playing in the worship band together at church. Samuel Bell remembers that two of them had lots in common and spent lots of time together doing things like sharing ideas and thoughts, working on higher math concepts, having meaningful conversations, and working on musical concepts.

He said, “He was one of the most loving and caring people I’ve ever met, and he was always available to talk through any problems his friends were having. Even while he was in physical pain, he would constantly put other people’s needs above his own. He would never fail to brighten my day, and he was simply a good friend.” He added, “his wonderful hugs will always stick with me as moments I want to hold on to.”

Samuel’s sister Bethany Bell said when she first met Sadler she was still a student.

After becoming friends at church, years later both started working as teachers for Moriarty schools.

She taught fifth grade at the elementary school while he taught Math at the high school and middle school.

Bethany Bell said that the kids at school liked him just as much as the kids at church did. She said, “The kids really did like him because of his desire to listen, actually listen. And because he was always himself. He was quirky and kind of zingy at times. It was really clear that he was connecting with them.” She added, “they were probably caught off guard by his weirdness but kindness won them over.”

She also remembers Sadler as the type of person who was always checking in on her and others in an authentic way. She said, “He would ask meaningful questions and then he would create a space to listen.”

Zachary Shaffer said that he met Will Sadler when he was eight or nine in 2003 or 2004, through Sarah Sadler’s family.

Shaffer said in 2011, Sadler started as a Youth Leader at the church and was the group leader for most of high school.

“He mentored me and even tutored me through high school. He was someone I truly relied on. He was patient, kind and loving. He cared and loved all his students deeply. And we all loved him back,” Shaffer said. “He brought fun and laughter to our group while still leading the group spiritually.”

He said after graduating high school they became friends and after he left the state, they stayed in touch. “The last time I was able to see Will, was in November of 2019. I was home visiting family and saw him at church,” Shaffer said. “I got my usual hug and smile and caught up briefly. He wasn’t feel well and was dealing with a lot of pain that day but he was still positive, upbeat and funny as always.”

Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi
Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi

Tamara has worked for The Independent off and on for several years, as an integral part of this family
business. She currently does reporting, manages the ad sales team, and serves as office manager. She is
an artist, working primarily in oil paints.