Chief Andy Anderson
The family of Richard G. “Andy” Anderson held a public memorial service on Sunday, Aug. 21, at Feather River College’s Multi-Purpose facility in Quincy.
He was an amazing man and had an equally amazing and love-filed life. He loved people and it showed in the many facts of his life.
Andy Anderson died on Aug. 1, 2016, at Renown Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, after a brief illness. He was 90.
He was born on Nov. 30, 1925, to Mary and Earl Anderson in Herrin, Illinois.
He will be remembered for his career in the firefighting trade but that wasn’t his career path in those early days, far from it.
After an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, he attended mortician school in San Francisco and eventually moved to Plumas County after buying the mortuary in Portola in 1954. It was there he got his first taste of fire services having become involved with the town’s fire department.
In 1956, he moved to Quincy after buying the funeral home there; now he was running both. That same year, he joined the Quincy Volunteer Fire Department. Clearly, he had no idea of the legacy that would result when, five months after joining the firefighting ranks, he was elected their volunteer fire chief but to be able to raise a family and pay their bills, he continued to own and operate the funeral home in Quincy until selling it in 1986.
He often said he wasn’t looking to be the fire chief, he just wanted to help the department. And for the next 50 years he did just that. Right up to his retirement from the department in 2007, Chief Anderson had taken a small rural fire department and turned it into a role model for all of the volunteer departments not just in Plumas County, but also throughout the state and country. He was the department’s sixth chief in its first 128 years.
His devotion to his department, the firefighters, his community and emergency services, was evident in nearly everything he did in his illustrious career over the next half century. Most notable might be the development and construction of the emergency services training facility at Fire Station 1 on Lawrence Street in Quincy. He and his wife Gayle also donated the land behind the station for this training complex on Andy’s Way, the side street appropriately named in his honor in 2006.
He was responsible for merging the Plumas County Fire Chiefs’ Association and the county’s Fire and Emergency Association into one group, which he chaired for 25 years. He established the county’s first Disaster Council and chaired the county’s Multi-Agency Coordination Team and was on the organizing committee to form the Plumas Fire Safe Council.
He was also the director of the Office of Emergency Services for more then 30 years. In 1983, the Board of Supervisors appointed him the County Fire Warden. At the state level, he was appointed to the Senate Select Committee on Volunteerism in Fire Service and was a charter member and past president of the California Rural Firefighters Association.
Along side his life’s devotion to fire service, his other passions included county fairs, railroading, radio broadcasting and flying his own airplane. For 35 years, he volunteered for various jobs at the fairgrounds including serving as the master of ceremonies at various grandstand events. He stepped in as fair manager for four years, from 1987 to 1991. He was a member of the board of directors for the Portola Railroad Museum.
Many remember him as a popular early morning disc jockey on the local radio station.
He is survived by his loving, devoted and supportive wife of 52 years, Gayle; sons Will (Kelly) and Rick (Sara); and grandson Richard G. Anderson III and step-granddaughter Sadie Dingel.
He is also survived by a large extended family including Steve Tolen, Bill Thompson, Marilyn Bergum, Kathy Williams, Debbie Doll, Andrea Mitten, Steven Tolen II, Stephanie Tolen, Ashley and Sierra York-Tolen, Steven Tolen III, Kasey and Bailey Doll, MacKenna and Sterling, and cousin Leaha Rae Almquest.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl and Mary Anderson; son Ed Anderson; and brother Earl Anderson.
The family asks that donations be made to Quincy Fire Department, 505 Lawrence St. Quincy, CA 95971. Condolences may be sent to P.O. Box 828, Quincy.
Services were under the direction of Manni Funeral Home in Portola.
While on the air, Andy always ended each radio broadcast playing the Orange Blossom Special in the background with one heartfelt message: “… and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to see you.”
Well Andy, clearly those who knew you consider themselves the lucky ones.