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Published: Wednesday, 8/3/2005

Volunteer fought fires for 50 years in Marblehead

MARBLEHEAD, Ohio - Robert E. Anderson, Jr., 83, a former chief of the Marblehead Volunteer Fire Department, of which he was a member for a half century, who also was council president of St. John Lutheran Church here for 25 years, died Monday at his home.

He had been ill for some time, his daughter, Gail Anderson, said.

"He was just one of those guys who was always willing to help people and took care of everyone in the community," said John Engelbeck, who served on the fire department with Mr. Anderson for 30 years.

He joined the fire department in 1951 after helping a firefighter attend to a sick man.

For the next 50 years, the fire department, made up of 30 or so volunteers, was a central part of his life.

When the phone rang with a sustained tone, it was the signal for him to scramble to the station, where he might be asked to confront a marina fire, a flooded basement, or a medical emergency.

Despite rudimentary equipment in the early days and the constant stress of attending to friends in trouble, Mr. Anderson and his colleagues tackled serious fires and rescues without hesitation, Mr. Engelbeck said.

In 1970, Mr. Anderson was appointed assistant chief, a post he held for 13 years, until he became chief for one three-year term. In recognition of his 50 years of service, he was awarded the title of Honorary Fire Chief in 2001.

Since 1980, he was council president of the 90-member St. John Lutheran Church in Marblehead, which often entailed knocking on doors to find retired pastors willing to lead the Sunday services.

Mr. Anderson found many opportunities to use his time and expertise to benefit the community.

In the 1950s, he served a term as a Marblehead councilman.

Mr. Anderson was born in Port Clinton, the eldest of three children, and graduated from Port Clinton High School in 1938. Three years later, he married Grace Luebcke of Marblehead, and in 1942, the couple moved to the Lakeside community.

Mr. Anderson started his own business, Bob Anderson Electrical, Plumbing, & Heating, using the skills he learned as a young man working with his father, who was a contractor.

During World War II, Mr. Anderson contributed on the home front, working on the plumbing system at the Erie Ordnance Depot near Port Clinton.

His wife died in 1995.

Surviving are his daughters, Sharon Mefferd and Gail Anderson; sister, Kathryn Ramlow; brother, Arthur; five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today at the Neidecker, Leveck, and Crosser Funeral Home, Marblehead. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. John Lutheran Church, Marblehead.

The family suggests tributes to St. John Lutheran Church or the Marblehead Volunteer Fire Department.



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