Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Samuel Robert Anderson's memorial

Samuel Robert Anderson
Aug. 6, 1940-Dec. 24, 2023
Palo Alto, California

Sam Anderson lived an active life of daily walks, gardening, and socializing with family, friends, and neighbors for the last four years, despite a lung cancer diagnosis in 2019. He died, surrounded by his family, of complications from pneumonia on December 24, 2023, at age 83.

Samuel Robert Anderson was born on August 6, 1940 in El Paso, Texas, to Pollyanna Gibson and Samuel Lewis Anderson. His family moved to San Francisco, California, during the war years, and then to Palo Alto, where Sam and his brother John Dennis (b. 1944) attended Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School and newcomer Cubberley High School, where Sam was in the inaugural class of 1958 and Cubberley’s first student body president. Sam was a proud member of Boy Scout Troop 57 and an Eagle Scout. In the fall of 1958, he left for Dartmouth College, sight unseen, where he used his beautiful singing voice in the Handel Society Choir and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. An avid reader of literature and poetry, he majored in English.

In the summer of 1959, Sam worked at Wawona in Yosemite and met Marilee May, also a college student in a summer stint at Wawona.They were married in Sam’s senior year at Dartmouth during Winter Carnival weekend. After his graduation, they traveled in Europe for a year and then settled in Palo Alto. Sam got his teaching credential at San Jose State. Loved by colleagues and students alike, he taught English at Mills High School in Millbrae, California, for 35 years, where he was chosen Teacher of the Year.

Sam became a devoted father to Sarah (b. 1966) and Mary (b. 1969). Between 1976 - 1994, he received three National Endowment for the Humanities summer grants for educator enrichment, studying Chaucer, American Poetry, and Computer Science on college campuses.

Committed to world peace, he and Marilee were founding members of the Beyond War Foundation. They were teacher leaders for the People to People Student Ambassador Program, taking groups of U.S. high school students to the former Soviet Union for three summers during the historic time of glasnost and perestroika. In 2002, Sam trekked 200 miles with his good friend Don Kenyon from the north to the south of Wales, and in 2011 they walked from coast to coast in England, clocking another 200 miles.

When grandchildren Sofie and Finn Harriman arrived in the early 2000’s, Sam and Marilee were deeply involved in their lives during their primary school and high school years at the San Francisco Waldorf School. They attended sports events, plays, concerts, and led them on after-school museum visits and nature walks.

A gentleman and a scholar, Sam will be remembered for his kindness, sense of humor, curiosity, intelligence, and warm smile. He was a beloved member of many communities: Dartmouth friends, Palo Alto’s Iris Way neighborhood for 57 years, Mills High School colleagues, a Mills book group, and a circle of friends from Sam and Marilee’s early marriage years. Wherever he was, Sam always had a book recommendation and good story at the ready.

Sam was preceded in death by his brother, John.

He is survived by Marilee, his wife of 62 years; daughters Sarah, Mary and son-in-law Lance Harriman; grandchildren Sofie and Finn Harriman; nephew Travis Anderson; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Tags: teacher/educator

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