If some people seem put on Earth for a purpose, Sherri Anderson surely was placed to shine light during hard times.
Born three years before her teenage brother was killed by a drunken driver, Anderson became the salve for her wounded older siblings and grieving parents. As a tot growing up in Marshall, Minn., and Osseo, she cheered and danced on the sidelines during her brother Murray's high school football games, becoming the darling of the team. Whatever her sister Anita or brothers Murray and Jon did, Sherri was the bundle of energy in the middle, darting into Lotus Lake or cheering on the Vikings or Twins.
When needy families were wanting at Christmas, it was Anderson who led the Adopt A Family campaign at her production support job at General Electric's Power & Water division in Minnetonka. For more than a decade she recruited co-workers, friends and family to get piles of wishlist gifts, even talking Anita into nabbing craft kits and stuffed animals through her small business.
"You'd go to Sherri's house and there were presents stacked everywhere. And it was never, 'Look what I did!' It was, 'Look at all these families who are going to have a wonderful Christmas!' Oh, the joy she felt in making someone's family happy," said Barb Hansen, who met Anderson 39 years ago at confirmation class in Osseo and stayed dear friends. Anderson, who loved bright clothes, left a small Christmas tree up all year inside her Maple Grove townhouse because Christmas was just "her thing."
She delivered food for Meals on Wheels and volunteered at the United Way. For chuckles, she dressed her beloved dog Tedd as a hat-wearing cowboy, took him to sit on Santa's lap, and stuffed him into snowman sweaters or vests. "Tedd was her fur baby," said her longtime friend and former co-worker Crystal Chojnowski. Chojnowski and her husband, Nick, were building a new house when their old place sold so quickly they had nowhere to live. Anderson invited them (and their dog Tahoe) to move in for three months. That was the start of dog walks, watching Vikings games together and of Hallmark or scary movie nights. "She was just a generous person," said Chojnowski. "Always so smiley and happy and welcoming." Sherri was known for adoring her niece and nephews and their kids.
So it was hard for Anita Anderson to watch as her baby sister, 10 years her junior, withered under a rare and aggressive cancer called NUT-midline carcinoma. Sherri went to the hospital in July thinking she had COVID-19. She learned on her 53rd birthday in September that the cancer was terminal. She died Oct. 26, three months to the day after her diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic.
"She fought it really hard, but it was too advanced," Anita said. "She was my biggest cheerleader. She was a true gem. It's a huge loss for us."
When Sherri was growing up, her mom worked as a phone operator for the former Northwestern Bell while her father managed a Chevy car dealership in Wayzata until they bought and managed a ballroom business in Marshall. When the ballroom burned down in 1980, the family returned to the Twin Cities, where her dad became a warehouse supervisor for Phoenix Packaging, now part of ConAgra Foods. Sherri, who was 13, settled into Osseo Junior High School and then Osseo High School, where she played softball and volleyball. She won a scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University and stayed a year before earning an associate degree in business technology at Brown Institute in Mendota Heights. She worked at ConAgra Foods for 11 years and then joined GE in 2001.
She spent 16 years at GE before joining Boston Scientific in 2017. Services have been held.