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Robert J. Anderson


1932 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Robert J. Anderson Obituary
ROBERT J. ANDERSON Musician, Educator, and longtime resident of Hemet, CA, Robert J. Anderson, passed away at his home in the company of his wife of 60 years and his oldest child. He was 82 yrs old. Bob was born in 1932 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Later, his family moved to the capital of South Dakota, Pierre, where he met his future wife, Jackie, while they were in the same second grade class. It was the beginning of their 75 year relationship. Also significant at his young age, Bob adopted his dog Spike who would remain by his side until he was in college. Bob and Spike enjoyed many adventures together growing up on the prairie. One of their favorite things to do was to tie Spike's leash to Bob's bike and pull each other through streets and fields around Pierre. At age 13, Bob's dad won election to the office of State Auditor in South Dakota. His dad served a term of 5 years and Bob spent a lot of this time in the halls and hidden areas of the South Dakota State Capitol building. At the conclusion of the term, his family moved to Minneapolis where Bob graduated from high school. This was a difficult move for him as he left his sweetheart and many lifelong friends behind in Pierre. Bob entered college at the University of South Dakota in Vermilion after his high school graduation. That same year he restored an old, damaged standup bass and it became his primary instrument which he played throughout his life. With the restoration complete, Bob formed a 9 piece band called "The Varsity Men." Bob and his band played dance jobs throughout his college years. He developed a passion for playing dance jobs and he put himself through college with the money he earned. At age 21, Bob was drafted into the Army. He had completed three years of college at the time he entered the service. He and Jackie were married that year in Pierre. The following year, Bob boarded a troop ship and headed to his post as an electrician in Germany. There, he played trombone and tuba in the Army band. Jackie joined him in Germany and they enjoyed traveling throughout Europe seeing such places as the French Riviera. After his discharge, Bob and Jackie moved back to Vermillion South Dakota where they celebrated the birth of their first child, Nancy. Bob completed his last year of college and graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education with a History Minor from the University of South Dakota. The young family moved to Fort Pierre where Bob began his teaching career with the high school band. Their second child, Michael, was born during this time. Continuing with his passion for music, Bob also played trombone in a performing brass group called "The Kilties," whose members wore traditional Scottish kilts. Bob was tired of the cold weather in South Dakota, so he mailed numerous resumes to schools in the west and southwest. He accepted an offer to teach high school band in Hawthorne, Nevada. With two cars, two trailers, and two kids under the age of 3, Bob and Jackie drove from Fort Pierre to Hawthorne. This was the first leg of their migration westward. Upon seeing Hawthorne for the first time, Jackie broke down in tears; they would only live in Hawthorne for four years, just long enough for the birth of their third child, Joan. In 1965 Bob accepted a position with Hemet Unified School District. He taught music at the elementary grade level alongside two outstanding educators, Mel Smith and Larry Mattox. Mel taught at the junior high level and Larry taught at the high school level. These three educators worked together for decades and developed an award-winning music program. The Hemet music program was so highly-regarded, respected musicians such as Count Basie, Woody Herman, and Maynard Ferguson played concerts in Hemet in support of the program. These were the best days of Bob's life; he was living his dream! Along with his teaching career, Bob continued playing dance jobs and concerts in and around Hemet. He formed the Bob Anderson Trio in 1967 and kicked-off with a 5-month residency at Soboba Country Club. He had a 48-year run with the Mt. San Jacinto College Community Concert Band. He played his last dance job at the age of 79. In the early 1970's, Bob earned a Master of Music Education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He attended NAU for three summers and regularly drove back to Hemet from Flagstaff to play weekend dance jobs. When he finished his Master's program, he moved the trailer he had in Flagstaff to the Colorado River where he would take the family to relax. During these trips, he would meet with band directors at various schools in Arizona to learn about their approach to music education and listen to their bands. This is also when the family started vacationing at beaches in North San Diego County and in Newport Beach. In 1990, Bob moved into his current residence which has a separate guest house that he made into a musician's paradise. He filled it with musical instruments, tapes and pictures of concerts and music competitions, and trophies and medals. He had very fond memories of his students and their shared accomplishments and found great joy being surrounded by all the things that represented the lives he touched during his career. Upon his retirement from Hemet Unified School District, he was asked to work again by both Hemet and San Jacinto school districts to assist on an interim and then part time basis. He loved teaching and remained active in the classroom for 10 years after his official retirement. At the age of 75, he left the classroom behind and was always up for a road trip. He enjoyed Las Vegas and made a point of getting a photo taken with a showgirl on every visit. He liked to visit relatives and friends across the country and enjoyed stopping at roadside attractions like Peggy Sue's 50's Diner and the International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico. Bob is survived by his wife, three children, three grandchildren, and his sister. He will be buried at Riverside National Cemetery preceded by a private service. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully suggests donations may be made in his name to the Hemet Educational Foundation Instrumental Music Program. Donations may be sent to: Hemet Educational Foundation, c/o Ron Breyer, 1791 West Acacia Avenue, Hemet, CA 92545.
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Published in Press-Enterprise on Apr. 5, 2015
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