In 2014, the Grove received a major bequest from the estate of Richard William Anderson, who passed away from cancer on November 8, 2013. Throughout the years, Richard had been a frequent volunteer at the Grove. A resident of Sunnyvale, California, Richard lived through the ravages of the early years of the AIDS crisis in the Bay Area. His losses, like so many others, were innumerable – so many friends gone. Richard felt this loss deeply, and had great empathy for others who had ever experienced the same.
Volunteering was a life-long passion for Richard, who was often volunteering in some aspect or another at the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center in San Jose. He became involved with the Community Center right from the beginning. Richard was of invaluable help to the organization, and was a long-time participant in its Community Center’s Senior Luncheon Program, and many of its various men’s discussion groups over the years. In the year that he passed, he was a volunteer counselor for the Community Center, lending a friendly ear to those in need – often seniors dealing with isolation issues, and directing people new to the area to activities and available services.
Besides his concern for his “gay brethren” dealing with HIV/AIDS and his love of social interaction and helping his community, Richard had a life-long love of gardening and nature. He took many classes in gardening, even going as far as London, England to learn about plants. Richard travelled to London to experience the immense Chelsea Flower Show, visited the Jardin des Plantes and the Bois de Vincennes Floral Park in Paris, and the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island at the height of its springtime exuberance. He loved to spend the day puttering around in his garden at his home in Sunnyvale, and was a member of both the San Francisco Botanical Garden and Filoli, places where he felt an easy familiarity after enjoying them for so many years. In addition to the Grove, his other “healing place” was Armstrong Redwoods in Guerneville, and he returned there a few times a year – whenever he was in need of the healing properties of the redwood forest.
As a longtime friend of Richard’s stated about the man whose gentle and generous spirit will never be forgotten, “I am so very proud as his friend that Richard has made this substantial gift to the Grove and the community he loved so much. I hope in a small way his life’s energy can be commemorated. Richard was a quiet, sensitive and humble man. He would never do anything out of self-promotion and he was embarrassed by flattery. Instead he would to want to spread his gratitude outward. After Richard retired, he gave himself the title of “Chief Operating Officer at Sunshine Unlimited” on his business cards. And how wonderful it is that his glowing generosity will help keep this lovely, peaceful place as a cherished, healing home for our community.”
Not too long before his death, Richard shared that while volunteering at the Grove, another volunteer had approached him and directed him to a group that was doing a task more suitable for seniors. Richard was always moved by moments of camaraderie and social interaction among gay men, and this small gesture of friendly contact made a strong impact on him. This year, the Grove is deeply honored to engrave a boulder dedicated to Richard William Anderson, which shall read:
HAND IN HAND
WE BROTHERS GO
IN LIFE, IN DEATH
& ALWAYS IN LOVE
DEDICATED WITH DEEP APPRECIATION
TO THE MEMORY OF
RICHARD WILLIAM ANDERSON