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James R. "JR" Anderson Sr.

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A celebration of life open house will be held for James R. "JR" Anderson Sr. from 1-5 p.m. Dec. 7, 2013, at 845 Birch Hill Road, in Fairbanks.
JR was born at home in Headland County, Ala., on Jan. 31, 1928, to Ray and Lonie Anderson. The day after JR's 18th birthday, he joined the U.S. Navy and proudly served his country during WWII. After discharge from the Navy, JR studied electronics in the Air Force reserve and earned a degree in business law while attending night school. He married M. Tera (Mike) Smith and together they raised three children.
JR's working life spanned 70 years, beginning as a 15-year-old, working nights at the airfield near Dothan, Ala. He continued his work in electronics at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and on the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations in the Arctic region of Canada. He then worked in Maine on the BOMARC project (the world's first long-range anti-aircraft missiles). 
He returned to Florida to work on America's space program during manned space flight's early days, participating in both the Mercury and Apollo programs. In 1964, JR moved his family to Fairbanks where he worked for Bendix Field Engineering at Gilmore Creek Tracking Station, progressing from technician to operations manager and finally to senior manager. While there, he was on duty tracking the first space shuttle flight.
James married Gail Coleman in 1981, and they moved with Bendix to Saudi Arabia where he was manager of air navigational support for the northern sector for six years. JR and Gail spent six years in Saudi and, before retiring from 23 years of service with Bendix, they enjoyed traveling to more than 17 countries together.
The Andersons retired to Spokane, Wash., in 1987, where JR worked for Goodwill Industries as manager of maintenance for three stores. In 1992, JR and Gail returned to Fairbanks. 
During the last 20 years of JR's life he enjoyed a variety of "retirement" jobs including curator of the Judge Wickersham house at Pioneer Park, driver/guide for Princess Tours and rural coordinator for Senior Service Corps' Foster Grandparent program.
 JR is most known as the "crusty" manager of the Tanana Valley Farmers Market in Fairbanks. He enjoyed his 12-plus years with the Market family and was well known as a manager who ran a tight ship.
JR is survived of his wife of 32 years, Gail Coleman Anderson, along with their dog Poirot; by son, James R. Anderson Jr., of Battleground, Wash.; by two daughters, Lougenia Anderson, of Portland, Ore., and Beverly Anderson, of Durango, Colo.; by three grandchildren, Dr. Tera Cushman, of Durham, N.C., Carrie Cushman, of Liverpool, England, and Taylor Byrd, of Portland, Ore.; by brother-in-law, Richard Coleman, of Fairbanks, and his family; by sister-in-law, Connie Quakenbush, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and her family; and by his close friend and cousin, Charlotte Alexander, of Dothan, Ala., and her family.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Dec. 3, 2013
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