Anderson family known for generations of giving

By Steve Hansen
When Bud Anderson ’31 was just a kid, he remembers then-PLC President Ola Ordal stopping by the house after church on a Sunday afternoon to chat with his father. Bud’s father, Herman Edwards (H.E.) Anderson, was a regent at the time, and this conversation – as was the case for many others – focused on money. Namely, the lack of it.

“It is said my father loaned $10,000 so PLC could make payroll,” recalls Bud. “I don’t know if he ever got it back.”

In fact, as Bud looks back on it, he is pretty sure that his father not only lent PLU the money, but he took out a loan to meet that obligation.

The history of PLU has no shortage of individuals who have sacrificed significantly to help a small struggling school – intended to help Norwegian fisherman improve their English skills – become what it is today. That was, in part, due to the vision of individuals like H.E. Anderson.

And clearly, that vision continues with Bud and his wife of more than 60 years, Vivian. Bud, who transferred to the University of Washington after three years at PLC, is the former CEO of Tacoma Steel Products. Now in his early 90s, he and Vivian split their time between homes (and golf courses) in Palm Springs, Calif., and Tacoma. Until recently, Bud has shot his age on the golf course every year, save his 77th year. He vows to do it again.

In addition to their work at PLU, Bud and Vivian are also actively involved with the Anderson Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization that they established. They are very proud to help support the Boys and Girls Club of Tacoma, and in particular the programs that have helped increase high school graduation rates.

It was President Seth Eastvold who asked Bud to continue the legacy of his father, by joining PLU’s Board of Regents. “They were looking for someone to help them raise funds,” said Anderson of his 1962-67 term on the board. “I wasn’t much of a success.”

Such sentiment, while genuine, is hardly accurate. And it only underscores the selflessness of both time and money the Andersons have contributed to the university. It is hard to walk around campus and not find something with the Anderson name on it, most often to honor Bud’s parents. Like the sections of the Morken Center, Xavier Hall and the UC clock tower, Bud and Vivian have proven to be invaluable assets to PLU.

In talking to the two, it does not take long to see why they have been, throughout the years, so involved in the PLU community: They positively light up when discussing the opportunities made available to students. One can tell that being a part of an active campus community that continues to grow is so important to them.

It was several years after Bud’s term on the board, in the early 1990s, when he and Vivian were asked to come to PLU’s aid once again, this time by the recently appointed President Loren Anderson. Bud and Vivian both laugh when they think about it – they were asked to rebuild the clock tower that was named in honor of H.E. and Agnes Anderson. “They were afraid it was going to fall down,” said Bud with a laugh, “so they asked, ‘who built this thing in the first place?’ That’s how they got back in touch with us.”

They did, of course, assist in rebuilding the campus icon. And that rekindled a relationship that continues to blossom. “You could tell that he was going to do a lot here,” said Bud of the new PLU president. “And we wanted to be a part of that.”

That feeling is mutual – and, again, certainly understates the impact Bud and Vivian have had on the university. “Bud and Vivian are among the most important friends PLU has had,” said Loren Anderson. “Their support for PLU, and their deep appreciation of its legacy, is an essential part of our continued growth. They are an example of those who, with an eye on the past, continue to help prepare PLU for the future; and they do so with a humility of heart and generosity of spirit that is simply inspiring.”

Labbee leaves career track to help others

By Laura Zaichkin ’07
Ryker Labbee ’96 wants to change the world. The 33-year-old is on his way to reaching that goal.

Ryker Labbee '96 gives a monk ni Shan State, Myanmar (Burma) a photography lesson. Photo by Tamara Plush.

Since quitting his job as a Seattle-based technical consultant about three years ago, Labbee has pursued his passion to instigate change in developing countries. He is now preparing to begin his first year of graduate studies at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

“Being secure and bold enough to walk away from a good job to pursue my passion is something I’m most proud of,” Labbee said.

In the past three years, Labbee has traveled to about 30 countries. But he’s spent much of that time interested in Cambodia, where the Bellevue nonprofit Stop Exploitation Now! (SEN) — of which Labbee is a board member — commits most of its resources.

Labbee said he always has been interested in Cambodia’s history, but was truly moved to help the Cambodian people in 2003, during his first visit with SEN.

He described a 9-year-old girl named Dara, whom he first saw at a shelter for rescued child prostitutes and street workers. “She volunteered to be my adopted child,” Labbee said. “She captured my heart a little bit.”

Another inspiration was a female victim of domestic abuse who was burned by acid—a common occurrence. The woman’s infant daughter, who was in her arms when the acid was thrown, was burned as well.

“It was one of those haunting scenarios,” Labbee said.

Something that frustrates Labbee and prompted him to pursue a graduate degree in international affairs is that while SEN helps individuals, it cannot change policies.

“I think I found as I traveled and explored that international affairs is my passion,” Labbee said. “It’s a desire to make more Americans aware of the big bad world we live in.”

Amondson sets world record

By Sabrina Coady ’08
After 30 years in health care, Susan (Wark ’77) Amondson had watched enough people suffer with the debilitating effects of cancer to spur her to action.

Susan (Wark '77) Amondson

Last August, Amondson, who graduated with a degree from the School of Nursing, spent 24 hours laboring over a stair climber at the Louis County (Wash.) Fair to raise money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

In doing so, she set the women’s world stair-climbing record at 10 vertical miles. Amondson used the 24-hour challenge to kick off fundraising for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s “Climb to Fight Breast Cancer” at Mount Kilimanjaro. This July, Amondson will take on the 19,340-foot African peak.

Amondson’s consistent dedication to celebrating life with passion and paying it forward through inspiration was shared by her best friend and climbing partner, Jeniffer Affeldt, who lost her life in an August 2006 climbing accident.

“My best friend taught me to not be afraid to enjoy life, engage in it and continue to challenge myself,” Amondson said. “She truly inspired me to reach each peak.”

That lesson is reflected as Amondson continues to challenge herself and put her passion for climbing toward a greater cause – cancer research.

“If you begin by building your foundation, recognizing who you are and where your spiritual strength is, it is easier to climb the peaks of life,” Amondson said. “My goal is to be the best in the areas that God has put me in life.”

Photo top: Bud '31 and Vivian Anderson outside their California home.