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Donald Roy Anderson, 87, of Gothenburg, died Jan. 27, 2019, at Kearney Regional Hospital.
Donald Roy Anderson was born March 19, 1931, in Gothenburg, son of Roy W. and Ella C. (Olson) Anderson. He was part of the fourth generation to be raised on the family farm, which is located just north of Willow Island. Don attended Willow North Country School, then graduated from Gothenburg High School in 1949.
During the winter of 1948-49, Don’s senior year of high school, his father was hospitalized in Omaha after becoming gravely ill with tetanus for a span of six months. As Don was the eldest, the responsibility to run the farm was abdicated to him. The winter of 1948-49 is regarded as the worst winter in recent history. In addition to the six months Don was in charge of running the day-to-day operations of the farm and completing the grain elevator, a significant number of family members passed. Following Roy’s recovery and return as head of household, Don worked full-time with his dad and brother Wayne managing the farm and feedlot.
Don enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Feb. 6, 1951. Don attended training in Jacksonville, Florida, and Memphis, Tennessee, which presented a unique opportunity for Don to be a member of the 1952 Navy football team. He signed up for basic radio communications training at Point Mugu, California. Don quickly moved up in ranks from third to first class aviation electronics technician on the USS Corson. He spent the next eight years stationed in the Hawaiian Islands, Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, China, Thailand and Hong Kong. During his service, he went swimming in the Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean), maintained the ship focusing on electrical work, cleaned POW camps, and worked as a bounty hunter for the United States and Japan. Don received the Medal of Honor from the Japanese government for his efforts in restoration of the POW camps. Don was grateful that his military experience brought him closer to God and allowed him to meet the love of his life.
Don and Sandy met in 1954 on a college retreat at Mount Herman, California. The romance was off and running. Both Don and Sandy have wonderful stories of memories made at Coit Tower where they had their first kiss and Fisherman’s Wharf Pier Nine, which was Don’s favorite place to take Sandy out to eat in San Francisco. Two years later, on the night before Sandy’s college graduation, Don proposed under a beautiful moonlit sky at the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sandy said “yes” and six months later on Feb. 15, 1958, they were married in the Evangelical Free Church of Berkeley, California.
Following Don and Sandy’s wedding, they rented a basement apartment in Gothenburg and moved back to the country a mile south of the family farm. Working the crops of the farm and cows of the dairy was a full-time job as they started their family. Together, they had seven children: David Louis, Susan Dian, Debra Lynn, Daniel Roy, Philip Carl, Paul Edward and Barbra Ellen.
Community and family were always a focus in their life as exemplified through spending time at the family lake house, the third oldest cabin on Jeffrey Lake, which was built by Don’s father, and vacations to California to see Sandy’s side of the family.
In 1960, Don and Sandy were compelled to join the Rev. Billy Graham’s Crusade as evangelists. During their evangelistic Bible training, Graham explained a dream he had about a farmer who saw the letters “PC” in the clouds and thought the message was for the farmer to join the ministry to preach Christ. Graham went on to explain, however, that the PC was meant to be for the farmer to plant corn and support the ministry in all aspects of their life. Don and Sandy went back to Gothenburg; where they continued to plant corn and support the ministry in all aspects of their lives.
When Roy and Ella retired and moved into town, Don and Sandy moved their lives back to the family farm. After several years of failed crops, in 1969 Don had no choice but to auction the farm equipment, rent the farm land and take a job at Monroe Auto. During his employment at Monroe, he used his skills developed in the Navy to work his way up to the lead electrician. During his tenure at Monroe, he gradually took back small portions of the farm and upon “retiring” he was farming full-time — which was always his passion. Don never completely retired from farming as he directed the farm activities through the 2018 season.
Don and Sandy enjoyed the rural Nebraska farm life and raising their family in the church with godly principles. The hobbies they enjoyed together included farming, gardening, fishing, boating, tailgating at Huskers games and genealogy. As a family, the Andersons are lifetime Huskers fans, and Don attended football games in Lincoln with family and friends through 70 years of season tickets. Don and Sandy would spend Saturdays watching primarily the Husker games and following their other favorite teams, Stanford and Oregon.
Don also enjoyed social activities of the church, but his first priority was always serving the Lord! Being a lifelong member of the Evangelical Free Church, Don taught Sunday School for 65 years, helped establish the AWANA program and served through various positions on the church board. He is part of the longest continuous family lineage originating with the Swedish Mission Church.
Donald was preceded in death by his wife, Sandy (2010), daughters Susan Dian and Debra Lynn, and his parents, Roy and Ella. Pink roses on the casket are in memory of his daughters Susan and Debra. The calla lilies represent Sandy’s love for the old cowboy western movies. Yellow roses were always Don’s favorite choice to bring to his best gal, Sandy, being a universal symbol of friendship, and in his opinion the most fragrant.
Those left behind to relish Don’s memories and carry on his Swedish traits of tenderheartedness, orneriness, stubbornness, and placing others before himself are his children David and Rose of Hampton, Georgia, Daniel and Kari of Omaha, Philip and Laurie of Aurora, Paul and Betsy of Omaha, Barbra of Gothenburg; grandchildren Stephen and Kristin of Kennesaw, Georgia, Raeda of Hampton, Georgia, Levi and Charity of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Spencer and fiancee Alli of Beaumont, Texas, Ashdyn of Lincoln, Jordan of Omaha; great-granddaughter Noelle of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the “kids” Dale and Myra; the “special grandson” Brian and Rebecca; his little girls Gabby Lou and Carly Mae; baby Max and Ellen Rose; his brother, Wayne of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and brother-in-law Larry Brown of Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.
Visitation will be held at Evangelical Free Church, 1721 Lake Avenue, Gothenburg, NE 69138; Friday, February 1, 2019, 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm.
Services will be held at Evangelical Free Church, Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 2:30 pm with Pastor Levi Anderson and Pastor Scott Newman officiating.
Interment will follow in the Grandview Cemetery, Willow Island, Nebraska.
Memorials may be given to the Evangelical Free Church, 1721 Lake Avenue, Gothenburg, NE 69138.