Dr. Gene V. Anderson passed away peacefully on March 16, 2020, at home surrounded by his family. A community memorial service, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, will be held at a later date when concerns over the COVID-19 virus have abated. Burial of cremains will be in the Indianola I.O.O.F. Cemetery.
Gene was born in Benson, Minnesota, on August 29, 1946 to Chester and Olga (Thompson) Anderson. Gene and his siblings Eileen and Dean grew up on farms in the Benson area. Although farming was not the career path for Gene, he always felt close to farm life and family in Minnesota as well as extended family in North Dakota.
His ancestral Norwegian roots were deeply planted. The family’s church home was St Pauli Lutheran, a country church where Gene was baptized, confirmed, and later ordained. People and places from Gene’s growing up years became part of our family lore and often appeared as story illustrations in his sermons.
Upon graduation from Benson High School in 1964, Gene enrolled in the University of Minnesota-Morris, where he majored in social work and also wrestled for the University. Upon college graduation in 1968, he enrolled in Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. After four years of seminary including an internship year in Park Ridge, IL., Gene earned the Master of Divinity degree in 1972 and subsequently was ordained prior to his first call at Hope Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, SD.
It was while serving Hope Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls that Gene and Lynette met. They were married on August 12, 1978. Gene returned to Luther Seminary and completed the Master of Theology degree in 1979.
Soon thereafter the couple moved to Ackley, Iowa, where Gene served the yoked parish of Our Saviour’s Lutheran (Ackley) and Salem Lutheran (rural Parkersburg). Then, in December 1983, the couple along with son, Nathan, moved to Indianola, Iowa, where Gene would serve Redeemer Lutheran Church. Daughter Rachel was born in 1987.
The parsonage next to the church was our wonderful home for many years. Along the way, Gene took classical guitar lessons, enjoying the guitar throughout most of his adult years. Keeping up Greek for sermon preparation was something he also enjoyed. Leisure time was also spent biking and reading.
Gene served Redeemer for over 26 years, retiring in 2010. He found a real passion for this congregation and the mission he served together with them. A focus was on worship and on serving others in our local community as well as worldwide. Gene was a lifelong learner, and with the congregation’s encouragement, enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Gene earned his doctorate degree in 1991.
After retiring from Redeemer, Gene completed interim assignments at Lutheran churches in both Ottumwa and Pella. Most recently, he was serving as a part-time visitation Pastor for St. John’s Lutheran in Des Moines, Iowa, visiting shut-ins, hospital and nursing home patients. This is work he thoroughly enjoyed.
Gene completed several Spanish language courses at Simpson College, including a study abroad experiences in Rosario, Argentina and Cuernavaca, Mexico. For several years he had a weekly “Skype” class with one of the instructors.
One of the ways Gene found to practice and use his Spanish was to serve these last three years as a volunteer teacher at an English Language Learners school called “8th & College” in Des Moines.
He always had a passion for people and their stories and here he developed a real commitment to immigrants. This became a true calling for Gene. In March 2019 he participated in a border immersion program in El Paso, TX/Juarez, Mexico in order to learn more fully about the plight of immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
Spending time with family delighted Gene. He loved that both his children and their families lived close by and he could see them often. Whether it was a family dinner, hearing about a new job, a soccer game, dance recital, music concert, child care, or a “cereal party”, Gene was always available. Family was truly the highlight of his life.
Gene is survived by his wife, Lynette, son Nathan Anderson and wife Lisa, grandson Parker and granddaughter Kirsten as well as by his daughter Rachel Anderson Eubank and husband Tanner and grandson Camden. All live in Indianola.
Gene is also survived by sister Eileen Helmstetter (Dave) of New London, MN, as well as many nieces, nephews and extended family. Gene was preceded in death by his parents Chester and Olga (Thompson) Anderson and brother Dean and Jean (Dokken) Anderson.
The family wishes to thank everyone for the many, many kindnesses shown to them during the time of Gene’s illness. We are very appreciative for the care Gene and the whole family received from the UnityPoint Hospice team as well as from the personnel at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.
Memorial contributions will be shared with Redeemer Lutheran Church (Indianola, IA), St Paul Lutheran Church (Martensdale, IA), St John’s Lutheran Church (Des Moines, IA), Iglesia Luterano Cristo Rey (El Paso, TX) and the 8th & College ELL Program (Des Moines, IA).