Our Dad, Rodney Lee Anderson, was the son of David and Myrtle (Mattson) Anderson. He was born on November 26, 1932 in Hutchinson, Kansas. Rod and his sister, Sonja (Anderson) McIntyre,were raised on a farm south of Windom, KS. They labored as a family team to work their land in good years and bad, to include throughout the Great Depression. Rod attended Alpha Country Grade School and graduated from Windom High School in 1950. He was baptized and confirmed in his faith as member of Andover Lutheran Church. His faith and his church communities were central to his life.
Rod attended Bethany College, where, during a chapel service his freshman year he met a pretty farm girl from Lindsborg named CeCelia Esping. During their sophomore year they began a love story that would last a lifetime. After proposing to CeCelia, Rod volunteered for the Korean War draft and served as a Photo Imagery Analyst in the U.S. Army’s 417th Engineer Aviation Brigade. He joined the 417th EAB in Korea and soon thereafter was transferred to Japan where Rod served out the remainder of his hitch. Rod made lifelong friends in the Army, and he and his “Army buddies” would reunite every two years at various locations around the country. He was a patriot!
After returning stateside, he married CeCelia Esping on July 17, 1955 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Lindsborg, Kansas. He and CeCelia had 3 sons: Darcy, Darren and David. Their marriage was a model of Christian love and devotion to each other and to their wedding vows. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary in July, 2021.
After their wedding, Rod used the G.I. Bill to attend Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. He graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1958 and went on to become a Professional Engineer, licensed to practice in Kansas and two other states. Early in his career he worked at the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) in Washington, D.C. Later he moved to Littleton, CO to work for Martin Company where he designed electrical connections for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program. His job at Martin Company took him and his family to Cape Canaveral, FL two times for six months each. In 1965 they moved to Ft. Smith, Montana, located by Yellowtail Hydroelectric Dam, where Rod was a project engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation.
In 1967 Rod and his family moved to Salina, KS to be close to family. Here he did the electrical design for various facilities such as schools (too numerous to count), athletic facilities, banks, hospitals, jails, and manufacturing facilities. The Smoky Valley Chapter of the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers honored Rod’s service twice – with the Engineer of the Year Award in 1999 and with the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers Award in 2016.
In 1984 Dad began a new phase of his career, serving as an Associate Professor at Kansas State University–Salina where he taught various electrical courses for 14 years. Upon his retirement in 1998 he was eminently proud to be honored with the title of “Professor Emeritus” from his Alma Mater.
Rod made a mark on the lives of many Salina youth over his 20 years of leadership in the Boy Scouts of America. As Scoutmaster, he led Troop 22 of Redeemer Lutheran Church to be one of the most active troops in the area. Campouts were held every month, come rain, shine or snow. Twice he led Scout groups on wilderness canoe trips from the Northern Tier High Adventure Base in Ely, MN. He loved to teach boys about the outdoors, watch them advance in Scouting and develop into young men. In 1976 Rod received the Lamb Award, a national recognition bestowed on Lutheran adults by the National Lutheran Association on Scouting.
During his retirement he and CeCelia enjoyed traveling and exploring every state in the U.S. (except Alaska) and visiting friends and family. He loved tending his yard, and watching things grow. He enjoyed watching his beloved KSU Wildcats compete, especially in football and basketball. Rod served on the Redeemer Lutheran Church Council for two terms.
Most of all, Dad loved his family. His greatest joy in life was spending time with any of his boys and their families, grilling a good steak or hamburger, reminiscing about the past or discussing plans for the future. He loved hearing about Darren and Sandra’s various projects or riding in their RV; visiting Dave, Kara and their family wherever the Army moved them; and many trips to Darcy and Kay’s home in Texas for the holidays. Rod fought so hard and so long to live, just because life was too darned much fun to do otherwise!
Being “Grandad” was the biggest honor of his life. He loved spending time with Corbin and Hayden, and Katy, Kurt and Kelsey wherever and whenever he could. He had a special relationship with each one of them and he loved watching his grandkids compete in their sports. He loved reading to them and being their “Santa Claus” at Christmas. He loved talking with them on the phone. He even figured out how to text with them in his later years.
On one cold winter’s day in Baltimore in 1997, Rod encouraged his sons to help push a stranger’s car that was stuck by saying, “Come on boys. Let’s give them a push. You’ll feel good about yourself all week.” That summed up Rod’s approach to living his faith and his serving his fellow man – simply, meaningfully, and without any need for recognition.
Dad loved to say, “who has more fun than people?” To honor his life and his memory, Rod would want you to go out and do something you enjoy. Do it....and he will be smiling down on you!
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Salina, KS at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 9th. Due to COVID-19, the family respectfully requests attendees to wear a face mask. The service will also be live-streamed on the Redeemer Lutheran Church’s Facebook page.
In lieu of flowers, our family suggests donations to Redeemer Lutheran Church, 743 E. Magnolia Rd., Salina, KS 67401 or Northern Tier High Adventure Programs, P.O. Box 509, 14790 Moose Lake Road, ELY, MN 55731.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rodney Lee Anderson, please visit our floral store.