Donald Paul Anderson
Anderson, Donald Paul seven days shy of age 91, of Excelsior, passed away peacefully on August 25, 2021. Preceded in death by his parents Paul and Gladys (Gillespie) and sister Jackie (Newman), former wife and lifelong friend Marilynne (Johnson), and survived by his brother Jerry and sister-in-law Barbara, daughter Jennifer Caron (Excelsior); son Nathan Anderson (Bozeman, MT); granddaughter Madelena Caron (Brooklyn, NY); son-in-law Tim Caron and daughter-in-law Kari Cargill; and his Johnson and Anderson nieces and nephews. He served in the Air Force during the Korean War; honorably discharged in December 1954. Don was an educator in the Wayzata schools and an influential one. In 1970, he helped to develop an elective English program designed to accommodate a range of students and their learning styles. In 1974, Don saw the impact of high school students' drug and alcohol use and began to facilitate support groups for students who had completed treatment and were returning to school. No other school was doing this at that timeDon was a courageous leader, tackling a serious and growing student need that had previously gone unrecognized. The work was not without its critics, but over time views and curriculum changed to include chemical health education. As the program grew, Don reduced his English teaching assignments to spend more time with students, staff, and parents to support abstinence and recovery. Don also worked outside of the school system with other agencies and treatment centers, partnering with people in the field of chemical dependency and continuing his advocacy and support of young people. Even into adulthood Jen and Nathan hear from people who tell them that their Dad made a difference in their lives by supporting their recovery journey. An outdoor enthusiast and avid camper and fisherman, Don introduced these activities to long-time family friends, the Steblays, to the Anderson cousins, and to graduated Wayzata students through the Outward Bound program. A solid climber, he summited the Tetons multiple times, taking the family on a never-to-be-forgotten trip to the base of the Grand where they camped for weeks while Don climbed with friends and former students. Don's passion for outdoor living was passed along to his son Nathan, a climber, skier, and fly fishing guide / fish whisperer of whom Don was extremely proud. Jen and Nathan remember picking up backpacking young people in Wyoming and Montana (it was the 70s after all) and listening to conversations in the back of the camper as Don and Marilynne transported the hitchhikers to their next camp destination. Don was a lifelong learner, philosopher, prolific writer, and classical music and opera lover. His appreciation for music was introduced to his children early on and remains strong in bothNathan is an accomplished musician, playing regularly in Bozeman. To this day, Jennifer remembers seeing the flying horses in a stormy sky above swaying trees at the Long Lake house as Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries played (at decibel levels probably inappropriate for young ears) and Don urged her to "keep looking into the clouds, you'll see them." A lifelong golfer, still practicing his swing and eager to improve his game, Don was hitting balls just days before his passing. His swing remained strong and his will to play never faltered. Don's knowledge of poets, writers and philosophers was wide and deep. He was known for his oratorical skills and ability to insert entire poems, or quotes and thoughts from noted and influential philosophers, authors, and poets into a conversation. To hear Don recite a poem was an unforgettable experience. He enjoyed political discussion and informed disagreement excited and engaged him. You had to be prepared if you were on the other side of an issue. Don's spirited political views led to much sparring with the TV and other disadvantaged opponents. Continuing to read and learn, assessing other ways of living, and other life philosophies, was important to Don. One of Don's greatest joys was being Grandpa Don to Maddie. He reveled in discussions with her, furthered her education, and was rewarded with a granddaughter who shares his passion for language and writing, philosophy and art, music and learning. Their shared interests were a gift to them both. Known for his terrible Christmas wrapping, sure to cause much laughter at gift opening, his delight in his Finnish ancestry, his connection to and support of the extended Anderson family, his knowledge of literature, and his ability to fully immerse himself in a piece of classical music, returning to the conversation as if coming out of another world, Don will be greatly missed by his family and friends. We will miss the debates, too, the strong opinions and convictions of almost 91 years of living. We'll miss the learnings, the Finn jokes, the soaring music accompanied by conducting arm movements, the talk of trips and plans for the future, the political discussions and vibrant language sprinkled with expletives. Rest in peace, Don. In keeping with Don's wishes, no public memorial service will be held. The family invites you to share your memories of Don in the online guest book or reach out to us individually.
Published on September 5, 2021
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