Roger Anderson died April 26 with his family by his side.
Anderson was born into a farming family in Donovan, Illinois; the second of seven children. He was always creating -- or taking things apart. At the age of five, he informed his mother that he was going to be a scientist, a prediction that would later come true. As a teenager, he devised a system that would operate his bedroom light without leaving his bed. He enjoyed figuring out how things worked.
He preferred to work on farm equipment more than farming. He had a motorcycle and with friends, he took more control of his teenage life than his parents would have liked. He did extremely well in school and it was said that he had one of the highest IQs. He did his bachelor’s at Champaign and then went to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington to work on an advanced degree.
During summers, Anderson worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world. It was there that he developed his love for camping and hiking in the beautiful New Mexico forests, particularly Bandelier. During this period, he failed to update his military registration and found himself in the Army. They quickly assessed his background and assigned him to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, conducting chemical research. Anderson studied the impact of low-dose chemical warfare agents and much more. Once out of the army, he returned to Washington State University to finish his research and earn a Ph.D. It was here in 1957 he met Suzanne Bois, whom he married in 1959.
The pair moved to Livermore, California where Anderson was employed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. During this time, he traveled to the Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Islands. He was employed originally as a chemist, but became involved on the ground floor of computer science and was an instructor of the first computer science college class for the Lab. Recently, a former student said, “Dr. Anderson, you won't remember me, but I was in your first computer science class. I was so interested in what you taught that I went on to take more courses. I am the first female Ph.D. in computer science.” Proof that teachers do make an impact. Anderson worked in the departments of Computation, BioMed and Engineering. In the year 1968, Anderson's family moved to Columbia Missouri for six months while he taught at the University. He continued to teach and work at the Laboratory until his retirement in 1991. Additionally, he contributed to and chaired the CompCon Conference for many years.
Anderson loved camping and hiking. He visited most of the West Coast national parks and spent many happy hours photographing the scenery, particularly wildflowers. His passion for photography increased to documenting all family get-togethers, developing his own pictures and becoming involved in the Livermore Camera Club. He was a charter member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church and later joined Our Savior Lutheran Church, where he put his photographic skills to use as well as serving in many other volunteer roles, including treasurer. At home, he used his skills for woodworking, mechanics and woodcarving, making beautiful carvings that decorated the architecture of his home with a Tudor Rose motif. Anderson and his wife, Suzanne, had two daughters, three grandchildren and in the last three years of his life he enjoyed a great-granddaughter. He and his wife enjoyed 57 happy years of marriage.
Although Anderson suffered from Lewy-Body Dementia in his last years, he never failed to recognize or appreciate his family. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne; children, Karen (Aaron) Benedetti and Allison Connor; grandchildren, Sarah Connor, Timothy Connor and Laura Connor; great-grandaughter, Olivia Connor; sisters, Darlene (Mervyn) Pilotte, Judy Judy; brothers, Larry (Janice) Anderson, Dean (Emilie) Anderson; brother-in-law, Nelson Waity and many nieces and nephews. He joins in Heaven his parents, Agnes and Delbert Anderson; and sisters, Marian (Nelson) Waity and Caroline (Joe) Swigart.
A memorial service was recently held at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1385 S. Livermore Ave in Livermore.