Robert E. Anderson
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Houlton - Robert E. Anderson, lifelong resident of Houlton, Maine, passed away at age 95 on January 5th, 2020. Born on December 14, 1924 to Ernest and Mary (nee Victory), Bob, as he was known, was one of seven siblings.
He spent the majority of his life in Houlton, the agricultural Aroostook County Seat, known locally as Shiretown. After graduating from Houlton High in 1943, he took his place as part of the Greatest Generation. A lieutenant, he served as a navigator on a B-17 bomber based out of England. The rigors and dangers of this type of position have been documented and dramatized in the story of the Memphis Belle. That he returned home is a statistical marvel. Bob rarely talked about his WWII experiences and, when he did, it was about surviving on peanut butter sandwiches and the celebrations on VE day.
Bob married his high school sweetheart, Phyllis Arlene (Callnan) on July 21, 1945. Remarkably, while working 6 days a week (and then some), Bob finished building what would be the family home. With no construction experience, he took the house on Pearce Avenue from foundation and framing to completion as money and time allowed. Several years later, he and his four oldest sons used hand tools to build a small camp on Drew's Lake.
To care for their growing family, Bob and Phyllis (together with Bob's brother, Kenneth, and Kenneth's wife Doreen) owned and operated the Anderson Brothers Grocery Store on Houlton's High Street (making a living much as their father had). Later, they took a risk, purchasing a soon-thriving Western Auto franchise located on the town square. There they sold everything from auto parts to stoves to bicycles and toasters.
After the leaner years of building a business had passed, Bob cherished encouraging, interacting with, and just getting to know his fourteen grandchildren and great grandchildren (14 and counting). "We're going with Grampy for coffee!" was an often heard phrase. ("Going to Coffee" is a multiple time a day tradition created by Phyllis, which Bob continued and was meant to foster connection and communication with family and acquaintances both old and new.) Bob also enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, walking, biking, reading, playing cards, summer evenings at the lake, and sitting near a hot woodstove in the winter, not to mention dancing and dessert!
In retirement, Bob and Phyllis took to the road for months at a time in a camper, exploring the country and, eventually, snow-birding in Florida for many years. They had 63 years together, before her death separated them, and had five sons: James, a retired attorney living in northern California and father of two; John, a retired small business owner living in East Millinockett, Maine, married to Candis (Packard) and father of two; Thomas, a mostly retired dentist in Houlton, married to Pamela (Patti) and father of four; Mark, a retired Houlton business owner now living in Hodgdon, married to Kathy (Folsom) and father of three; and Christopher, a retired USAF navigator now in Amherst, NH, married to Leigh (Mulholland) and father of three.
Bob is remembered by all of his children and their families as well as his brother Russell in Boise, Idaho. (He was predeceased by his brother Kenneth and his sisters: Florence Burtchell, Ruth Tingley, Gerry Fish, and Mary Williams.) His zest for life was contagious across all generations. He was loved, even adored, by everyone who had the good fortune to know him. His grace, strength, humor, and heart will be sorely missed. He had no fear of showing tears, but he loved to laugh; we will carry forward the sound of his soft chuckle in our memories.
Bob wished to thank Gardiner Health Care Facility, the VA Nurses, and Visiting Nurses of Aroostook. He also sent his love to his extensive family and numerous friends. A private celebration of his life and legacy will be held this summer, lakeside, where there may be dancing and will definitely be dessert. Arrangements in care of Dunn Funeral Home 11 Park St. Houlton, ME 04730.
Online condolences may be expressed on the Tribute Wall at: dunnfuneral.com
Published on January 13, 2020

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Jan 13, 2020