John R. Anderson passed away on Sunday April 16th, 2023 in his home at the age of 82.
Born on January 19th, 1941 in Oakland, California to Dorothea Lorraine (of Portugeuse heritage) and John Martinez (of Filipino heritage), he was later officially adopted by Dorothea’s husband Arthur Anderson. John’s younger sister Elizabeth Hodges recalls this as a bright moment for them both. John is also remembered as a caring elder brother to Rick Anderson. John lived for a time in Las Vegas and parts of California before enlisting in the U.S Army and becoming a field artillery training specialist.
John’s love of automobiles became his profession and ultimately brought him to Washington State where he spent his career in the car business, buying, selling and trading. He often brought home random, but fun, items like pinball machines, pool tables and vintage cars that he had taken on trade.
John married Debra Johanson and they had two daughters together. John enjoyed being a father and family man and was devoted to his daughters, showing interest in anything they were involved in. He was a gentle, sweet, patient and nurturing father and used to let them decorate his wavy black hair with the entirety of their barrette collection and would gently blow dry and brush their hair after an evening bath when they were little. He enjoyed taking them on summer camping trips and bicycle rides around Greenlake or outings to the Woodland Park Zoo or the Seattle Aquarium. He liked taking them out to eat, especially for Sunday brunch. He also enjoyed cooking for them, making his Sunday breakfasts scrambles a.k.a “Joe’s Special” and his secret recipe chile rellenos. John and Debra divorced amicably after almost a decade of marriage and remained friends. Debra eventually remarried and her husband, Brad, also became a good friend to John.
A gifted musician, John played guitar and his daughters remember him playing for them near the fireplace of their childhood home in Kingsgate. For a time in his twenties, he played in a band with a famous touring ukulele musician and even had the opportunity to play at after hours clubs with stars like Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bing Crosby.
John loved watching movies, especially Sci-Fi and comedies and was a long time fan of shows like Star Trek and CSI. John loved tinkering and had a knack for solving puzzles and fixing things, especially computers and electronics. John was very generous with his time and offered his repair services to his neighbors when he wasn’t out hunting for treasures at Goodwill or Value Village. He was an avid collector of all things that could be repaired and possibly resold, especially if it needed a power cord or batteries, which he always had plenty of on hand.
Those who were lucky enough to spend time with John were able to experience his quirky sense of humor and knew that if he teased you, he liked you. With phrases like, “aye chihuahua”, “don’t smile or your face will crack”, “here comes trouble”, or “I’m definitely taller than you” (even though he was often the shortest in the room at 5’3” and had the childhood knickname “Chico”), he absolutely lit up when he was able to make people smile, laugh or lift their mood.
As an enthusiastic cheerleader to anyone in need, John received an award for being the “Parent Cheerleader of the Year” from his daughter’s swim team. He would find out which kids on the team had parents that were unable to make it to the meet and he would go to their races, standing at the end of the pool to cheer for them, loud enough that his encouraging screams could actually be heard under water. Meanwhile, his own daughters were cozy and warm tucked away in the Coleman tent and Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bags he would set up for them to comfortably dry off and await their next race.
John was so kind, understanding and extremely patient. He was easy to talk to and could spend hours listening and holding space without judgment. As a highly sensitive and empathic person, he often felt the pain of others and appreciated his alone time. It was important to him to maintain his independence, living on his own, which he was able to do until the very end. He enjoyed occasional outings to his local Denny’s diner to drink coffee, solve puzzles and chat with his friends. Everyone he encountered experienced his gentle, kind-heartedness and remembers him fondly as such a sweet man.
He is survived by his two daughters, Megan Anderson and Kacy Anderson, that he referred to as the “lights of my life”. One of John’s greatest successes in his life was that his daughters grew up knowing how much he loved them and that they could talk to him about anything, at anytime and feel his support, no matter where they were in life. He will be missed beyond words and the friendship and love he shared with his daughters was a precious gift, and is his most enduring legacy.