Andrew P. Andersen
April 17, 1939 – November 29, 2018
Andrew Paul Andersen was born in Portland, Oregon on April 17, 1939 to Rev. Andrew Peter Andersen and his wife Nina (née Hjelm). The family then returned to Nina’s family home in Iowa and ten years later Rev. Andersen accepted the call to serve as pastor of a Lutheran church near Fresno, Calif.
In California Andy and his older brother Jimmy attended a two-room schoolhouse where sports and the arts were emphasized. Here, Andy’s athleticism came to light. Deemed a boxing prodigy by a former U.S. Navy champion, Andy trained with him until Rev. Andersen passed away.
Andy and Nina returned to Iowa midway through Andy’s junior year of high school. A Spencer High athlete, the local paper reported that Andy “consistently shattered records to the breeze.” He took third in shot put at the 1957 Iowa state track meet, was First Team All-Conference (football) and honorable mention First Team All-State (football). Andy attended Dana College in Blair, Neb. on a full athletic scholarship, competing in football and track and field for the Vikings. His school discus record of 147-11 stood for decades.
It was at Dana that Andy met Susan Jorgenson, the love of his life. They were married for 58 adventurous years. Andy worked in retail management and owned two businesses, but his true professional calling came working for Aramco in Saudi Arabia. He was on the job less than three months when a major pipeline and processing plant exploded near Abqaiq on May 11, 1977. The next day Andy was promoted to Material Supply and helped get this crucial facility back online. Andy went on to make a career of responding to company disasters.
During the 13 years with Aramco, Andy and Susan cultivated a love of world exploration, traveling to every continent but Antarctica. They spent their retirement in Tampa, Fla., Beech Mountain, N.C. and finally Ellijay, Ga. Andy rarely missed an opportunity for competition—playing golf, tennis and bridge and winning gold and silver at the Georgia Golden Olympics.
Andy expressed his creativity through art and writing. His annual Christmas letters were holiday comedic relief for the many. He wrote poems to mark occasions ranging from birthdays to deaths and the simple delivery of chicken soup by a friend.
A dedicated volunteer, Andy picked produce for food banks, visited hospice patients and mentored children. But Andy had no deeper devotion than to his Lord and his family. He will be lovingly remembered by Susan and his children, Sara Wetli (Jean-Pierre) of Sandy Springs, Ga. and Mark Andersen (Michelle) of Mooresville, N.C. and his grandchildren Sean Wetli, Renee Barger (Chris), Garrick Smendziuk, Nicole Andersen and Max Andersen.
Andy passed away at 79 in Ellijay on November 29, 2018. He left it all on the field in his six-year battle against cancer. He fought with positivity, appreciation and compassion for his fellow warriors.
The family will receive friends on Friday, Dec. 7, 4-7 p.m. in the Fireplace Room of the Coosawattee River Resort, 634 Beaver Lake Drive, Ellijay. Funeral services will be Dec. 8, 11 a.m. at Ellijay First United Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Gilmer County Boys and Girls Clubs of North Georgia at bgcng.org and the Ellijay First United Methodist Church Building Fund at fumcellijay.org. Condolences can be made at Bernhardt Funeral Home, bernhardtfh.com.
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