Ralph Lee Anderson
November 2, 2023
Ralph Lee Anderson, born on November 28, 1943 in Whitefish, Montana to Lester and Oriel Anderson passed away September 18, 2023, at the age of 79, at home with his family in Shelton, Washington.
During his earliest years, Ralph lived in Harrington, Washington before moving to Chimacum, Washington. While in Chimacum, Ralph was unofficially adopted into the family of Reverend George and Penelope Poor. After graduating from Chimacum High School in 1962, Ralph moved with the Poor family to Ellensburg, Washington and attended Central Washington University. He graduated from CWU in 1969 with a Master's degree in Psychology.
After graduating from CWU, Ralph worked at Rainier State School before then deciding to pursue a PhD in Psychology. Ralph drove back East to look into programs in person and on his drive back to Washington, he stopped off in Scottsbluff, Nebraska to visit a friend. This friend offered him a job as Director of the Region 1 OMR, and Ralph stayed for over five years. While in Scottsbluff he met his wife, Linda Smith. Ralph and Linda were married March 19, 1977 back in Seattle, in the home of Reverend George and Penelope Poor, with Reverend Poor officiating.
Deciding to stay in Washington, Ralph's career included the State of Washington DSHS, Kitsap County as Project Manager, Thurston County as Facilities Manager, and the Squaxin Tribe as a grant writer. During his later career, he enjoyed refereeing soccer games throughout Thurston and Mason counties and at tournaments around the state. This was an activity he was able to share and enjoy with his son.
Ralph was a man of many talents, projects and interests He was not one to sit still for very long. When you did find him sitting down, it was probably between 4:30 and 7:00 a.m. as he drank his morning coffee and caught up on world politics. He was very well read and well versed in current events and political issues. Making a difference, standing up for what is right, and sharing his knowledge with others was of utmost importance. Speaking up for others and fighting for change was a constant passion. Not speaking of politics around the holiday table was not a rule he abided by. Ralph was a precinct worker for the Democratic Party.
A place close to Ralph's heart was Ocean Park, Washington, where his family spent many vacations at their cabin, often for the 4th of July or the Kite Festival. He loved taking the family dogs to run on the beach, digging for clams with friends, feeding scraps to the seagulls on the beach and to the crows who regularly visited the cabin, and jumping waves with his kids and teaching them to safely climb the rocks around the North Head Lighthouse, all the while being ever cautious of the tides. A trip to Ocean Park was also a time to enjoy campfires, reading, and games, which always included puzzles, card games, and the family's favorite games: Sorry!, Clue and Pit. Several times Ralph participated in the walk across the Megler Bridge from the Washington side of the Columbia River to the Oregon side with his family and friends.
At his home in Shelton, as well as at the Ocean Park property, Ralph always had projects going. Top of the list was working in his garden and finding the best ways to grow and tend his vegetables. Anyone who knew him knew he loved his carrots! And they certainly were tasty! Another constant project was making sure the firewood was ready by fall. He would get cords of the best wood, split it, clean it, stack it, make kindling, and fill bucket after bucket to bring in each morning to start the fire. Taking care of his property brought him satisfaction and contentment. Ralph beautifully improved and landscaped the property wherever he lived. With his son, he also had the fun of building a go kart together and making a track through the woods around the property. Ralph also enjoyed building furniture for his family. He built beautiful hope chests for his wife and daughter, as well as many tables, cupboards, bookshelves, and a play kitchen and a large, beautiful swing set for his kids.
Ralph had a great love and appreciation for animals. Whether it be the family pets or the animals about the yard, he always gave great care and compassion to all critters. He took wonderful care of the family dogs, cats, bunnies, chickens, ducks, and geese, as well as the birds, squirrels, and stray cats who came about and took up residence. He had great patience in winning the friendship of the fearful strays and eventually had them curling up on his lap. For the wildlife, food was left out in homemade bird feeders and water was left up in the trees on little platforms he built for the squirrels so they could drink without fear of the cats and dogs.
Good conversation was also a great delight to Ralph. Anyone he crossed paths with held the possibility of an interesting interaction. One of his favorite things to do was share a good meal or a cigar with his friends while discussing anything and everything from their projects and family happenings to the current books they were reading and the state of the world. Meaningful conversations with others refreshed and energized him. His personality was warm and welcoming, whether you were a stranger he crossed paths with in the store, a co-worker, a friend of a friend, or in his inner circle of friends and family. Ralph enjoyed sharing his knowledge, experiences, beliefs, amusements, interests, family stories and history, as well as exchanging ideas and philosophies about the world. This sharing of knowledge and interests extended down to the littlest humans, as he loved to show the children who came to visit him the interesting things he was working on or the fascinating trees, plants, and animals about the place. Ralph genuinely loved interacting with the kids and making sure they felt included. His daughter also brought many International students home for holidays and vacations during her time at CWU, and Ralph welcomed and engaged with them with open arms, always eager to learn and to share. A childhood friend of his daughter's recently recalled, "As soon as you walked through the front door, you were an Anderson. You were family."
Ralph was preceded in death by his birth parents, Lester and Oriel Anderson, adoptive parents Rev. George and Penelope Poor, sisters Essie Sanders and Pauline Washburn, brothers Howard Arnold, John Poor, and Phil Poor.
Survivors include his wife, Linda Anderson, daughter Amanda Anderson, son Aaron Anderson, sister and brother-in-law Alice (Poor) and Rick Flegel, and brother and sister-in-law Robert and Deborah (Vandermar-) Poor, sisters-in-law Marlene Poor and Claudia Poor, and close cousin James Dick, along with many other cousins, nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Shelton Civic Center at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 12, 2023. In memory of Ralph, the family suggests donations to the Alzheimer's Foundation, Lewy Body Dementia Association, Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, or your own local food bank or animal rescue.