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Richard William Anderson, Sr.

October 23, 1951 ~ February 15, 2023

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.


Kathy Distelrath

February 16, 2023, 4:08 pm

Jen, so very sorry for your loss! I just read about your dad and he sounds like he was a wonderful person. I wish I had the pleasure of knowing him! I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time! Love you and take care!

Christine Laiso

February 16, 2023, 5:30 pm

This was a perfectly written tribute. ❤️ Such an amazing man. A perfect example of a respectful and loving Uncle. I will always cherish my memories with him and the family with sleep overs and picnics holidays and family affairs. When he spoke people listened. He had such a way with words and a loving contagious laugh. Uncle Rich will be missed. My love goes out to you Aunt Renee, Jen and Chris.

Joyce, Chuck, Rona, and Bill

February 16, 2023, 5:36 pm

RIP Rich
We love you and will miss you dearly.
Renee, Jen, and Chris, we hope you know that we love you and will always be here for you. Our sincere condolences.

Robbie Lewis

February 16, 2023, 7:57 pm

Big Rich and Renee were like second parents to so many of us that were friends with Little Rich as kids and young adults. Their home was always a place to gather, laugh and joke with the whole family. Even after Little Rich’s passing, many of us still stopped in to laugh, and joke, and just spend time with Big Rich and Renee, or whoever happened to be over at the time. Big Rich was always generous with his time, attention and welcoming to everyone. You could always count on enjoying your time there just watching football in the living room or hanging out in the kitchen. I’ll always remember Big Rich’s Jersey accent (that wasn’t so common in Michigan) throwing little playful barbs at pretty much anyone within earshot, and throwing the football for me and Richie in the backyard. And I’ll never forget throwing a dinner roll across the table at him at a thanksgiving meal I dropped in at when home from college. You’ll be sorely missed, and always remembered. Love ya.

Mary Downie

February 16, 2023, 8:12 pm

Jen and Family,
Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved dad. I know he was very special to you. He sounds like a man who brought much happiness to everyone’s life. May his memory be eternal.
Mary Haezebrouck

Tonia Romancheck

February 16, 2023, 8:31 pm


Your dad sounds like an amazing man. I really wish I could have known him. But by knowing his incredible daughter…I feel like I have a glimpse into how great a man he was.

Sending you and your family lots of hugs and love.

Erica Simcina

February 16, 2023, 9:01 pm

Sending love and hugs! So deeply sorry for your loss. What a beautiful remembrance was written about an obviously wonderful man. May all the fun memories fill your hearts during this difficult time. Wishing peace for you and your family.

Rich Sudol

February 17, 2023, 12:08 am

Love and miss you Cuz! I’ll see you on the otherside so keep the guitar tuned and I will to until we can play our favorite tunes together.

Debbie Rosenman

February 17, 2023, 3:56 am

I have always known how much Jen looked up to her dad. It saddens me greatly to know how sad she must be feeling to see him pass away. My heart goes out to Jen, Chris and her mom, along with the many family and friends who will miss Rich.
May his memory live on for you all.
With sympathy and love,

Timothy Perry

February 17, 2023, 10:29 am

Dear Renee and Jen – I am so sorry for your profound loss. What a great tribute to Rich you have written, he would be proud. You all are in my thoughts and prayers this day and the days that follow.

Elaine Bilbey

February 17, 2023, 2:58 pm

Irene we have been thru a lot together know I am with you now in love and sprit big RIch was a wonderful man but he is with Richie now

Ken Engelbrecht

February 17, 2023, 9:07 pm

My heart felt condolences to you and your family. I will always remember his and your mom’s kindness.

Melissa White

February 19, 2023, 10:41 am

Irene I love you lady. You’ve carried so many of us in our time of need. I pray they all come to carry you now. If there is away I can help reach out. May God give you what you are standing in need of. Your two favorite Men are together again. Much ❤️

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