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RICHARD ALDEN ANDERSEN

ANDERSEN, RICHARD ALDEN November 17, 1923 to September 25, 2012 Richard Alden Andersen passed away quietly in Gig Harbor, Washington on September 25, 2012 at the age of 88. Dick, as he was known to his family and friends was born in San Diego, and was the youngest of four children. His parents, Olaf and Cordelia moved the family to a variety of places up and down the West Coast during his early years. The family eventually settled in Palo Alto, California where Dick attended Palo Alto High. A talented self-taught pianist, he often joined his older brother Jim (an excellent trumpet player much sought after by traveling bands) and played music for local clubs and dances. Dick was also a star running back for his high school team and earned an athletic scholarship to football for Stanford University in 1941. An injury cut short his playing days at Stanford and he completed his education at Menlo Junior College in Sunnyvale in 1944. Dick took a job with a coffee importer in San Francisco in 1945 and was posted to Maracaibo, Venezuela to learn the buying side of the business. Unfortunately during the rainy season he contracted elephantiasis and was forced to return to the Bay Area to complete his convalescence. He married Helen Ann Van Keppel in 1947 and they had three children: Elizabeth "Libby", Martha and James "Jim". Dick worked for a time for his brother-in-law Pete Anderson in the ready mix and concrete business (Anderson Concrete) until he found a job back in the import/export and maritime industries. After working for several years in the import/export business in San Francisco, Dick bought a part interest in Nichols Tow Boat Company where he helped build the business during the 1960's. In 1967, he sold his interest and took a position as Sales Manager at the Port of San Diego which allowed him to travel widely throughout Asia creating relationships for the Port and various key trading partners in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines. He left the Port of San Diego to become Port Director for the Port of Everett, (Washington) in 1969. As a community leader, he helped architect the five year economic growth plan for Snohomish County. As Port Director he oversaw the expansion and modernization of the Port of Everett which included building a facility to handle the export of bulk alumina. He was also the originator of the popular Salty Sea Days on the Everett waterfront which attracted well over 100,000 visitors each year during its run of 35 years (1975 - 2005). After a brief stint as the Port Director for the Port of Stockton (California) Dick returned to the northwest and worked for a period as a consultant for transportation projects in the Columbia Basin and in Skagit County. He became the Port Director for the Port of Skagit County in 1977 and oversaw the development of Port lands into industrial parks which currently hosts companies like PACCAR, Inc., and Eddyline Kayaks. Throughout his life Dick was a joyful playmate, compassionate father, and sage advisor to his children. Our weekends were filled with family focused events. One weekend it could be a trip to the beach to explore tide pools and beachcomb and on another an adventure in the mountains complete with an archery contest and hot dogs barbequed over an open campfire. Crisp fall weekends found our family attending Stanford Indian football games, where Dick, a passionate Stanford fan, enthusiastically maligned USC and Cal. On winter weekends he and Helen rose at 4:00 AM to take the family skiing at Dodge Ridge in the Sierras. These outings were always followed by his famous Saturday night dinners during which he would take over the kitchen and regale us with improbable tales. We could never be sure if they were fact or fiction. Our Sunday mornings found Dick back in the kitchen acting as short order cook, creating our favorite breakfasts. His love of food and entertaining are special gifts to his children. Dick's extended family enjoyed his infectious enthusiasm and love of life as well. Family reunions found him spending time nurturing his nieces and nephews, counseling grandchildren, organizing pseudo Olympic sporting events - rock skipping, softball, swimming races. A reunion was never complete without his no rules croquet and his famous spaghetti (a secret recipe he wouldn't share). Dick retired in 1986 and spent his retirement with his wife Helen traveling through Asia, Europe, Mexico and the American Southwest and hiking the North Cascades with a succession of silky terriers all called Frankie. He was a confident outdoorsman who preferred to spend his hot summer days knee deep in any river building dams from river rock to create a pool in which to cool off and relax. He became an accomplished wood carver and writer and devoted a good deal of his free time to assisting the Skagit Valley Symphony as its volunteer stage manager. He remained active in the community until Parkinson's reduced his mobility. In 2009, Dick and Helen moved to Gig Harbor to be closer to family. Helen passed away in 2011. A memorial service will be held in La Connor in November when the skies are grey and the boats are making their way out the Sound. Contact the family at justlibby@cox.net, Jim.Andersen1955@hotmail.com or marthaandersen@sbcglobal.net for further information. Remembrances can be made in Dick's name to the Skagit Symphony, P.O. Box 1302 Mount Vernon, WA 98273 and to the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation, 400 Mercer Street, #504 Seattle, WA 98109.


Published in U-T San Diego on Nov. 4, 2012
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