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Gene Anderson


1928 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Gene Anderson Obituary
Gene Richard Anderson

February 22, 1928 - January 6, 2013

SALEM - Gene Richard Anderson was born on February 22, 1928 in Austin, Minnesota. When Gene was 14, he drove his family to Oregon, settling first in Silverton and then in Salem, where the family put down roots. He joined the Marines in his senior year at Salem High School, and, after completing his tour of duty, Gene returned to Salem, graduated, and first caught sight of Joan Coker at the state fair. After a brief courtship and an even briefer engagement - as Joan says, Gene was never one to wait around - they married in 1949 at St. Mark's Church in Salem. Surrounded by family, Gene and Joan celebrated their 63rd anniversary this winter.

Gene was called up once more to serve in the Korean War, and his service in the Marines, along with his Norwegian family upbringing, were central to his identity. Throughout his life, he was a hard-working man of unfailing integrity, honesty, and thoughtfulness. Since 1966, Gene and Joan have lived in the beautiful South Salem home that Gene built for his family. He worked many jobs in the early years, but he will be remembered as one of Salem's most distinguished custom homebuilders, a trade he learned from his father and continued with his younger brother, Dean, and later with their sons Michael and Geff. Together, Anderson Brothers Contractors built over 500 homes in Salem and nearby communities as well as several office complexes. Gene was a builder of the old-school: he knew how to construct every inch of a house from the ground up and worked each project to perfection.

Gene helped build Salem's community as well as its homes: he was active in the Lutheran church and various civic organizations, he was friends with half of Salem, and he always relished the chance to swap stories with his coffee group. He was generous to both strangers and friends, donating to local soup kitchens and embracing family Christmases with joyful excess. Gene's restless curiosity meant that he never stopped learning new skills and always loved to travel: he and Joan vacationed annually in Honolulu, had fun in Reno and Spirit Mountain whether winning or losing, and explored Europe and America with enthusiasm. As a husband, Gene was loving and humorous, if feisty and accident-prone. As a father, he was caring and firm, and had the warmest of hearts. As a grandfather, he was a teacher of many skills, a ready listener, and the provider of endless adventures and candy (or "power food," as he called it).

Gene enjoyed being outside, whether at a jobsite, on the tennis courts, strolling through the neighborhood, or sunbathing in Waikiki. Industrious and pragmatic, he thought he could fix anything, and he always had a project on the go - improving the house, fixing computers, making beautifully-crafted furniture and toys. Gene was still climbing roofs, dangling off of ladders, and brandishing chainsaws long after he should have been. Even in his final days, he had words of humor, humility, positivity, and care for everyone. He was widely loved, and will be deeply missed.

Gene died on January 6th after battling for several years against multiple illnesses and after repeatedly defying medical statistics. He was 84 years old, and his longevity is a testament to his tenacity and his pleasure in life. He is survived by his wife Joan Coker Anderson, who was his companion, confidante, unofficial realtor, fellow explorer, and, in later years, his attentive caregiver. Gene was the loving father of Candis Anderson Brummond and Michael Anderson, and was close to his daughter-in-law, Jamie Anderson. He had three grandchildren, Kristin, Andrea, and Taylor; his brother Dean also survives him, as do many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A memorial service for Gene will be held on Saturday at 2pm at St. Mark's Lutheran Church (790 Marion St. NE). Interment is private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Kairos Community Lunch program, care of St. Mark's Church.

Published in StatesmanJournal on Jan. 10, 2013
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