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Alumni Obituary – Donald Mark Anderson

Donald Mark AndersonDonald Mark Anderson (CC’49) went to be with the Lord on Wednesday January 4th, 2023, after 92 years of service.

Don was a faculty “brat” growing up on the campus at Central as his father, Dr. Russell Anderson, was the Academic Dean.  My dad, John, and Don were very good friends having attended Central together back in the day. They maintained that friendship over the years. One of my favorite pictures that I have in my office is of Don with his arms around dad and dad’s arms around another gentleman.  When dad passed, Don wrote a heartfelt letter to me about his relationship with dad.  I have it hanging in my office with other correspondence.

Don served on the Board of Trustees for several terms and made semi-annual treks back to campus during those years.  He was a great story teller, some of it written down in one of two large files we have in our office.  Stories include his time growing up in McPherson, activities on Central’s campus and the local Free Methodist Church, people he knew, influencers on his life, etc.  He had huge respect for his mom and dad and was very proud of his children. He missed his dear wife, Georgia, who proceeded him in death.  Don was a recent Academy of Achievers recipient.  Many will remember the recorded message, during the COVID years, at Commencement as he addressed the group.  I am very thankful we honored him in this way while he was still living. – Dr. David Ferrell

Don was a man of many talents and stories. He was born in 1930 to Russell and Rose Anderson in McPherson, Kansas, where Russell was teaching at Central Christian College. Those formative years during the depression defined his lifetime calling to higher education and Christian service. He married Georgia Zook in 1950, and they raised two children, David and Cindy. Don loved adventure, and continually found ways to bring this into his life and a career that spanned three continents.

After completing his Associates degree at Central College, he attended Seattle Pacific College, where he met and married Georgia. They returned to Kansas where he finished his Bachelors degree in Mathematics at McPherson College and a Masters in Physics at KSU. He completed pre-doctoral studies in Aeronautical Engineering at UW. He moved his family to Belfast, Northern Ireland from 1970-72 (at the peak of “the troubles”) where he completed his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics at Queen’s University.

His career spanned both university and commercial aerospace research and development positions.

Don’s first teaching job was when he was 18 years old, as the principal and grades 5-8 teacher in a two-room school in rural Kansas. He went on to teach Aircraft Accident Investigation at USC, Physics at New Mexico State and Seattle Pacific University, Aeronautics at Cal Poly, Engineering Mechanics at Queens University Belfast, and at the University of Zambia he headed the Physics department for two years.

His aerospace career began in 1954 at White Sands Proving Ground, where he hand-calculated trajectories of the Aerobee Rocket (the first to exceed 100-mile altitude, on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum). He went on to hold R&D positions at General Dynamics Guided Missile Division, Boeing, Jet Propulsion Lab, and McDonnell Douglas, as well as having his own consulting firm. He served on two National Technical Committees, chaired many sessions at technical conferences, authored papers, and was General Chairman of the Structures, Dynamics & Materials Conference in 1980.

Don used his professional skills along with his love of outdoor adventure to relieve suffering around the world. With support from Rotary and Life Water International, he made multiple trips to Mozambique, Zambia, and Guatemala, drilling wells to provide clean water, teaching local leaders to become self-sufficient at drilling and maintaining their wells, and leaving the equipment for them to drill future wells.

Don had a passion for flying, and was a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor, piloting his own light planes for over 50 years. Flying is an expensive hobby but that never stopped him. In the mid-1960s he founded the Bellevue Flying Club in order to have access to a plane. He also won a contract to supply an aerial photo of every airport in Washington for the WA State Pilot’s Guidebook (1967-70 editions). He removed a door on his 1959 Comanche 180 and circled above the airports, shooting black & white photos through the open door, then developing them himself in a local darkroom. When living in Zambia he and a business partner started AIRVANIA, a scheduled airline/air taxi business. He flew extensively wherever he lived for both recreation and humanitarian purposes. While in Belfast, he and Georgia flew a little Piper Colt across the Irish Sea, England, France and Spain to Algeria, and back by way of Iran. In Zambia he flew charter flights for the American Embassy and gave local missionary pilots their bi-annual flight reviews. With his heart for service and sense of adventure, he was always ready to use his flight resources to help others, whether it was flying doctors and dentists to remote areas of Mexico to perform life giving procedures, or participating in Search & Rescue missions in Arizona as a deputized member of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Air Posse.

An avid outdoorsman, he loved hiking, fishing, hunting, and boating. He was a lifelong churchman, always active and supportive in local congregations and mission programs wherever he lived. He loved music and singing and could be found in the choir of whatever church he was attending. He loved his family and thrilled at bringing them on his many missions and adventures. He valued relationships more than things, and his generosity was momentous.

The funeral service will be held at 2:30 PM, Monday, January 23, 2023, at Solie Funeral Home, 3301 Colby Ave, Everett, WA 98201.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Donald, please visit the floral store.

ABOUT CENTRAL CHRISTIAN COLLEGE OF KANSAS

Central Christian College of Kansas is a regionally accredited institution offering undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Central strives to offer Christ-centered education for the whole person – heart, mind, soul, and strength. Its history dates back to 1884, and it is located in the friendly town of McPherson, Kansas. Central is a strategically small college that offers over forty areas of residential study and a thriving online program for non-traditional students. To learn more about Central go to centralchristian.edu/about. Visit the Foundation of Central Christian College to see what projects and events are coming up.

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