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Oscar Clarence Anderson lived with multiple sclerosis for more than 40 years, but through his perseverance and a positive attitude, he wouldn’t let the degenerative disease of the nervous system defeat him.
“The big part of the second half of his life was the fight against MS and not letting that stop him from doing things,” said son Mark Anderson, the youngest of Oscar Anderson’s four children. “It was a triumph on his part that he lived 40 years with MS, and went as long as he did. He didn’t want to be limited by it any more than he had to, so he would take on challenges.”
Oscar Anderson loved photography, the outdoors, spending time with his family and watching the Mariners. He died of complications from the coronavirus in Renton on April 18. He was 82.
That Anderson reached that age was a testament to his determination. He lived about the last 10 years in a nursing home. He became a quadriplegic late in life and had some trouble talking.
“The MS had caused his whole body to give way, but his mind was still going and he was still watching the Mariners and Judge Judy,” Mark Anderson said.
Oscar Anderson grew up in Portland and moved to the Seattle area when he got a job with Boeing, where he worked for 37 years, mostly in production illustrations. In his later years at Boeing, he drove a van that was fitted with hand controls, then moved around at work on an electric scooter.
Son John remembered getting up to go fishing for steelhead with his father at 6 a.m., rarely catching anything but having a great time.
Oscar and son Pete did a 50-mile hike with the Boy Scouts. Oscar had dreamed of climbing Mount Rainier one day, and while he never accomplished that, he was the inspiration for Pete’s ascension to the summit in 1996. When Pete reached the top of Mount Rainier, he called his father on a satellite phone.
One of Mark’s favorite memories of his father was when he came to visit while Mark was in college in Massachusetts.
With Oscar using a manual wheelchair, the two spent a week visiting New York City and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“When we were on the boardwalk at Atlantic City, the wind was blowing extremely hard down the boardwalk,” Mark Anderson said. “He told me to let go of the wheelchair, and then he put his arms out like wings on an airplane, he got some lift, and then the wind blew him down the boardwalk.”
Oscar Anderson liked to plan things ahead of time, and in 1989, he bought a plot up on a hill at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton.
“He had already picked out his place where he wanted to be laid to rest, under a tree,” Mark Anderson said.
Along with his three sons, Anderson is survived by daughter Julie, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and his former wife.
“Visiting my dad in the nursing home gave the family an opportunity to spend time with him regularly, talk about his grandchildren, watch the Seahawks and Mariners, and laugh over old memories. He would never have lived as long as he had if not for the many years of wonderful and supportive caregivers at his home and nursing homes,” Mark Anderson said.