Wilbert L. “Andy” Andersen, 94, passed peacefully in his sleep at home on Jan. 14, 2019, in Dallas, just five weeks after his wife Connie. They were married 72 years.
Andy was the grandson of Peter and Anna Andersen, immigrants from Denmark who came to America in 1880 and started a dairy farm at Fiddle Creek near Florence.
Andy was born Nov 3, 1924, in Portland. His parents Willard and Erneva Andersen raised their two children, “Andy” and “Charlie” throughout Oregon and Washington, where his father ministered at the Church of the Nazarene. In 1941, the family moved to Canby, where Andy attended high school. While at church, Andy was introduced to the love of his life, Henrietta “Connie” Kraft. That first summer they worked together harvesting berries, and Andy bought her a ride in a Stinson Airplane for her 16th Birthday. Their dating days were cut short when Andy, at 17, left to serve in World War II.
He volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps, but before his pilot training was completed, the Army transferred him to the U.S. Army 76th Infantry Division and sent him overseas to relieve the 101st Airborne Division. He was a Staff Sgt. in Patton’s 3rd Army during the Battle of the Bulge. Andersen earned a Silver Star for Gallantry in Action.
Andy was honorably discharged and returned home to marry Connie on Aug 1, 1946. They moved to Corvallis, where he went to school on the GI Bill at what is now OSU. In 1950, he earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture. While at school, Andy took flying lessons and received his Private Pilot License in 1948. He helped form the OSU Flying Club. In 2006, Andy received the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” certificate for having over 50 years as a pilot with more than 2,000 hours without an accident.
In the early ’50s, he partnered with a farm in Elkton growing grains, berries and raising farm animals, also their family grew to four children; Steven, Teresa, Richard and Bert.
In 1955, the Andersens moved to Gold Beach. Andy worked for 10 years as the Curry County Extension Agent assisting farmers and ranchers, and 4-H youth development. Here Andy and Connie built their first dream home overlooking the mouth of the Rogue River.
Andy’s compassion for farming and helping others, plus giving his family an opportunity to travel. In 1967, he went to work with USAID in Agriculture; spending two years in Vietnam introducing a new crop of high yield rice, five years in Turkey introducing summer wheat production and two years in Tunisia working on irrigation farming.
Returning back to Oregon, Andy received his master’s degree in 1970, from OSU and he worked as an associate professor teaching Extension Education to foreign students.
In 1984, Andy retired from OSU and moved to Independence to build his and Connie’s second dream home at the Independence Airpark. Being a planner and organizer, Andy with Connie were very involved with the community and the many Airpark activities; EAA, ISAS, AOPA, Flying Farmers, Historic Trail Flyers and Church Seniors, to name of few. They continued flying until Andy was 80. He loved listening to planes fly by and noted the weather when there were holes in the clouds. Connie started walking at age 50; every day except Sunday she was up early and out the door well into her late 80s. They shared a beautiful long and full life together.
Andy is survived by his sons Steven and Richard, his daughter Teresa, his four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Services held Friday Feb 1 at 2 p.m.
The First Baptist Church
1505 Monmouth St.
Independence, Ore. 97351