Richard William Anderson Sr., also known as Big Rich and Rambo, was born in Hoboken, NJ on October 23, 1951 to Herbert and Grace Anderson. Richard lived up to his nicknames while fighting cancer twice. He fought a courageous battle against stage 4 throat cancer during the first year of Covid. Unfortunately, just two years later, on 9-2-2022, his 50th wedding anniversary to his beloved wife Irene, he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Richard bravely fought for six months, each day being a gift to his family and friends, until he lost this battle on Wednesday, February 15, at the age of 71. He peacefully passed away in the arms of his devoted wife and with his daughter and son in law.
What is a loss is also a gift, as Richard is finally rejoining his loving son, Richie, along with his parents, brother in law Eddie Laiso, sister in law Carol Bepler, niece Jill Palladino-Arnott-Strasser, and many other missed family members and friends. Richard is survived by his devoted wife (and Super Nurse), Renee Anderson, his daughter Jennifer Anderson, his son in law Christopher Dayner, his sisters Kay Laiso and Dorothy (Dieter) Schwalbe, his brother Brian (Bonnie) Anderson, his brothers in law William Bepler and Lloyd (Vivian) Whitmore, his sister in law Lynn (Dave) Kuiphoff, his many cousins, and his many loving nieces and nephews.
Rich’s life was full. It was full of love and family. Rich and Renee had a fairy tale love story. They met when they were just 12 years old and were soul mates ever since, living true to the lyrics “Only You.” They raised a daughter and a son who were able to see and enjoy just how close Rich was with his loving family. This huge loving, supportive NJ/NY family has countless memories together. It was heartbreaking to move away from them to MI in 1989, but his family always showed up for one another no matter how many miles apart.
Rich’s life was filled with music. He was known for his GAS (guitar acquisition syndrome), especially enjoying his Gibson Les Paul. He and the guys tore up Wanaque with his band, The Interruptions/Downside Up, as Renee danced along to their music. Music brings people together. Rich enjoying jamming in the basement with his family and friends. Even during his last days on this earthly plan, he reminisced with beloved band members and even played air guitar while his son in law played Moody Blues. Harbor Lights brought him in, Fade to Black moved him on.
Rich’s life was full of fun. He had a great sense of humor. There are so many photos of him doing something to make others laugh. He would exchange dad jokes and far side comics with his daughter each morning. He and his son are definitely planning some pranks right now. Rich was known to hilariously change song lyrics and create funny limericks on the fly. Rich had a knack for quoting tacky comedians at just the right moment, quipping, “Why don’t you call me when you have no class?”
Rich’s life was full of presence. He was always there with a listening ear and advice if you needed it. All loved listening to his childhood stories. Big Rich was a hero to his children, nieces, nephews, and his children’s friends. No matter how tired he was from working full time, going to school, keeping a meticulous house and yard, and even building an addition on the house, he always had time and energy to play with and help others. Whether it was volunteering to coach sports teams for his children, helping them lift weights, doing super sets with proper form, or to help move homes and classrooms, he was there. He was a “dad” to so many, throwing the football and baseball around for hours. He and Richie practiced football plays until dusk. Number 72 loved football and was able to enjoy Superbowl 57 with Renee, Jen, and Chris.
Rich’s life was filled with strength and faith. He was a tough, intelligent guy who wasn’t afraid of showing his emotions. No matter what he went through, he would say, “What is, is.” He worked for DuPont for 40 years, where he acquired his Rambo nickname. Needless to say, Rich was resilient and loyal, but boy did he have fun along the way! Through his work, he met wonderful friends who became part of our family. Richard had a curious mind and questioned everything. He had a respect for science and history, teaching his children to never stop learning and more importantly to stand up and fight for others, being sure to be on the right side of history. Though he enjoyed intellectual debate, questioned everything, and taught his children to do the same, Richard carried his faith with him until the end. He always said, “In God we trust, everyone else brings data.”
Rich knew his life was full. During the last few months of his life, he stated, “I have lived a full life—a life of which others can only dream.” That was apparent as everywhere he went, he had friends accumulate—the type of friends that were by his side, reminiscing about their time, until his last breath. Whether at the Court, Back Beach, St. Francis, or Lakeland, his childhood was filled with outdoor fun, music, sports, and friends. Whether it was Haskell, Rochester, or Sebastian, and anywhere else he went, Rich was known to enjoy life’s many pleasures with those he loved. Most importantly, he brought love and joy just by being the person he was.
To our dear “[k]night in white satin,” we “know you’re out there somewhere,” and we will all be together again in the “great gig in the sky!” We love you to infinity and beyond.
To honor Rich Anderson’s memory, tell someone you love them, send a joke, and play a favorite song. If you would like, please donate to AML Cancer Research, VNA Hospice, or to a charity of your choosing.
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