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Michael Jay Anderson, 63, of Leadville, Colo., passed away October 14, 2018, after a short battle with cancer.

His funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 20, 2018, at Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Williston, with the Rev. Scott Neumann officiating. Burial will take place at 3 p.m. MT Saturday, October 20 at the Antelope Cemetery. Friends may call at Everson-Coughlin Funeral Home in Williston on Friday, October 19, from 9 AM until 5 PM and for the hour preceding the service at the church on Saturday.  There will be a family service, open to the public, on Friday evening, October 19, at 5:00 p.m. at the Everson-Coughlin Funeral Home.

Michael Jay Anderson was born August 25, 1955 in Williston, N.D. He was brought home to the family farm in Zahl and spent his early years there with his big sister, Jennie, and later, middle sister Linda. He spent his first years there as an active, happy little boy.  The family moved into Williston in 1959, and baby sister Tracy joined the family in 1963. The night Tracy was born coincided with moving into the family home on 15th Avenue West, which would be the family home for the next 53 years. Mom and Dad went to the hospital that night and the three kids spent the first night alone in their new house without their parents. The four siblings have marveled many times how surprisingly well they have always gotten along and figure their mother must have had a lot to do with it.

Michael was baptized as a baby at Bethel Lutheran in Zahl and later confirmed his faith at Our Redeemer’s in Williston. After graduating from Williston High School in 1973, Mike enlisted in the U.S. Navy, following in his dad’s footsteps. He completed Navy Electronics School and served on the U.S.S. Farragut, based in Norfolk, VA. He recently recounted how he enjoyed his last month of military service working for a group of chaplains, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish.

Mike married Shelly Torgrimson at Antelope Creek Church on a bitterly cold day Jan. 3, 1976. After working a summer as caretakers at Brush Lake Bible Camp, they set off for Eugene, Oregon, where Mike worked as a logger and where their son Ian Michael was born in 1978. Mike suffered a work injury while logging, and his neck was broken. While this was a serious accident, he healed and spent time recovering at home, enjoying his new baby boy, who delighted everyone.

Later, they moved back to a big farm house in the Antelope area.  They were Post Office Box #8, indicative of the small community life they enjoyed there.  Daughter Erica Lane was born in 1981. She was the apple of his eye, and everyone marveled over her delicate skin, beautiful red hair and sweet little voice. Like Mike, both children became avid readers.  Ian once complained it was all there was to do in the country.

Mike attended an electronics trade school in Montana, and later moved to Denver after his marriage ended. He spent a lot of time with his sister, Jennie, and her husband, Frank, whom he considered a brother, and was part of his nephew Alex’s life from day one. In 1988, in south Denver, Mike met Belinda McLean. He was smitten with this girl from Alaska who was living very well at the time in the foothills outside Evergreen without the benefit of running water and with minimal electricity, surrounded by her animals. They married in 1990 and settled in Englewood, where Ian and Erica spent their summers, with activities centered around them.

There were trips back to North Dakota every year at Christmas time.  One trip had Mike and his closest friend John Engberg, in the front seat, with Jennie and a young Alex in the back seat. Mike decided he had to stop in north Denver to shop, leaving the rest of them sitting in the car. He came back with a big load of his always unique Christmas gifts, and a life-size doll for Erica, which took up way too much room in the car.  Another year, the heater went out in the car early in the trip, but no matter if it was too cold or too cramped, the travelers were always joyful traveling home for Christmas.

Mike held several interesting jobs, one involving traveling across the country installing conveyer systems in post offices.   The job he most identified with was working for the Denver Post, keeping the huge printing presses running. It was an amazing, exciting place, with monstrously big rollers with countless parts loudly spinning out the latest news.  Close by were two-story tall stacks of enormous rolls of blank paper, marked with the country of origin, Canada, Norway, and others. When something was wrong with the presses, which happened all the time, it had to be fixed fast, and that was up to Mike.  Everyone read the newspaper then, and Mike poured over it in his off hours and many conversations included the latest news.

Around 2003, Mike and Bel bought land outside Leadville, with plans to build a log cabin.  It took ten years of hard work, but it finally became their home. Mike was usually humble.  He noted he never passed the first building inspection on anything, but eventually most of it worked out.  He longed for his family to come see Leadville and his cabin, which happened often, but not often enough. After recently buying the adjoining lot, he started calling the cabin and land “His Empire.”  

Michael is survived by his two children, Ian (Tricia) Anderson of Williston; and Erica (Michael) Fellon of Plentywood, Mont.; Belinda Anderson of Leadville, Colo.; grandchildren, Alec  Caulk of Wahpeton; and Van and Avery Fellon of Plentywood, Mont.; his sisters, Jennie (Glen) Granrud and Linda (Rick) Tofte of Williston; and Tracy (Alan) Ford of Littleton, Colo.; as well as nieces and nephews, Brad Tofte, Lisa Peterson, Erin Olson of Williston; and Alex Brannon, Katie  McLaughlin, and Jack Ford, of Littleton, Colo.

Mike was preceded in death by his father and mother, Jay and Helen (Martowlos) Anderson.

In his last years, Mike treasured time with Van and Avery, as well as the rest of his family.  He also loved his life in Leadville, the community, his friends and family and enjoyed the serenity of the mountains from the view on his cabin porch. He will be dearly missed by all those whose life he brightened.


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