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1928 Onalee 2024

Onalee Anderson

September 1, 1928 — January 31, 2024


Onalee “Lee” Anderson passed away peacefully at Friendship Village of Kalamazoo on January 31, 2024.  She was born on September 1, 1928, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Freda Minetta (Bacon) Gerber and Neal Victor Gerber.


She was raised in Worthing, SD.  After completing high school at the Worthing School (K-12) as one of five students in her graduating class, she matriculated at South Dakota State College (now University) in Brookings.  Upon graduating from SDSC in 1950, Onalee moved to Rapid City, SD, where she worked in public relations at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and as a reporter for the Rapid City Daily Journal.  


In 1952, she married Gordon S. Anderson, who was then stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City.  The couple moved to Michigan in 1953, where Gordon pursued a career in radio and television, and soon after to Kalamazoo, where they started their family in 1957.   


Onalee was active in volunteer work in Kalamazoo, including for the Girl Scouts—where she served as a troop leader and later in council administration—and for the Parkwood-Upjohn Elementary School.  She enjoyed working, and was at various times employed at the Barnes Printing Company and at Western Michigan University.  


After she and Gordon retired in the late 1980s, they spent several winters in Fort Myers, FL, and enjoyed many recreational flights—piloted by Gordon—in their “retirement Cessna.”  Onalee took up cycling in retirement, went on group cycling tours in Europe (the Netherlands, Austria, and Denmark) and within the United States, and took many local cycling excursions with the Portage Peddlers.  


Onalee was predeceased by her husband, Gordon (2000), and her brother, Loris Lee Gerber (2015).  


She is survived (most immediately) by her children Karen Anderson Rechtin, Kristin Anderson, Neal (Sara) Anderson, and her grandchildren Carter (Cydney) Rechtin, Connor (Lauren) Rechtin, and Katherine Anderson.  Throughout Onalee’s life, she was steadfastly devoted to her family.


Burial at Mountain Home Cemetery in Kalamazoo is private.  The family will hold a memorial open house for Onalee in Kalamazoo at a later date.  For memorial donations, please consider the Girl Scouts of the USA and the American Cancer Society.  Onalee was a cancer survivor.


To send flowers to the family in memory of Onalee Anderson, please visit our flower store.


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