By Mary Minor
Daughter of Jerry Anderson
ELLENSBURG, WASH. – One of the kindest cowboys loved by all, Gerald Eugene (Jerry) Anderson, entered God’s heavenly arena on November 11, 2021. We know that Jesus welcomed him with open arms, healed him, and said that his entry fees were paid for a wonderful life lived with a passion for being the best person to all. He had just celebrated his 87th birthday on November 6 with family and friends. Many thanks to those who called him, sent cards, or stopped by as you made his day extra special! Jerry passed peacefully at his Ellensburg home after a year-long pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Fortunately, the good Lord blessed him with a decent last year despite the circumstances. Even though he chose no treatment, he seldom complained. Jerry was very grateful to have his Hospice nurse, Elena, help prepare him for his journey to be reunited with his wife, Janis; son, Curtis; and great grandson, Blaise Buck Minor. You can bet that my mom, Janis, had Puddin’ and Bud saddled ready to go roping when Jerry entered heaven’s gates. The sport of roping and rodeo held a passionate place in both of their hearts!
Jerry was born November 6, 1934, the son of Clarence and Hazel Anderson. Born into a horse and ranching family, Jerry was a successful horse show contestant and became a calf roper in his teen years. After graduation from Ellensburg High School in 1953, Jerry attended California Polytechnic College (today’s Cal State University San Luis Obispo) and joined the rodeo team. He honed his skills in calf roping and bulldogging during those early years. Jerry reminisced with excitement about his college rodeo days and was thankful for the opportunity to attend Cal Poly. After a few years, Jerry chose to pursue his own endeavors instead of following Clarence’s footsteps with Anderson Hay. His family supported and appreciated his decision. Without a doubt, his miserable hay fever was the main reason for leaving the business. Jerry was so proud of Ron and his family members for building such a dynasty and continuing to grow the company with great success. He always joked that he should have stayed in the hay business, but we all know where Jerry’s heart was and that was horseback with a rope in his hand. Back in Ellensburg, he was also a member of the National Guard in the 1950s. While serving his time, Jerry was thankful that he learned how to make the perfect bed with all sheet corners tucked in and he continued this trait throughout life. Right up until the last two days, Jerry started his day by making his bed early each morning. We all know what an early riser he was, and he couldn’t understand how one could miss the sunrise.
After college and for several years, Jerry continued to compete in rodeos throughout the Northwest and Canada. While competing he always had ropes and horseshoes available to purchase from his horse trailer. His businessman skills proved beneficial for him to work and enjoy his sport. He became the Rodeo Cowboy Association’s spokesman and field representative for the Pacific Northwest, a post he held for many years. He was very instrumental in getting the team roping event added to the Ellensburg Rodeo with equal money which was a huge accomplishment. Jerry was proud to be a Gold Card Member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys’ Association. His passion for helping others who were coming into the rodeo profession/team roping world was quite evident and he conducted numerous roping schools throughout the state of Washington along with Scott Storlie. Those were some of Jerry’s best days as he loved to rope and enjoyed helping others learn the sport of calf roping and team roping. His mentoring Jack Wallace and Brad Botta gained lifetime friends who were like family to Jerry. He loved reminiscing about their travels as well as their successes. Some of the greatest times had by all.
Grandpa Jerry mentioned that his proudest moments in life came in seeing his grandsons – Brady and Riley Minor – achieve success in professional team roping. Attending the NFR and watching them compete was the greatest thrill by far. He and Grandma Janis started taking the Minor boys to wintertime Arizona ropings when they were toddlers – Brady, 5, and Riley, 2. They always made sure to have their ponies in the trailer. Jerry never tired of watching them rope and was overjoyed when they won their hometown Ellensburg Rodeo team roping in 2018. He knew from personal experience how hard it is to win in your hometown. Grandpa Jerry and the boys had so much fun celebrating with everyone that night Behind the Chutes!
Jerry Anderson’s Roper’s Supply products with ropes cut, tied, and conditioned at his Vantage Highway ranch found their way into the rope bags of many contestants during the 1960s and 1970s. Pat Minor took pride in helping Jerry produce the best ropes possible! In addition to ropes, he offered horseshoes as a representative for a college friend’s business. Luckily for all of us, Jerry met my mom, Janis, through this California connection. In fact, I met Jerry the year before my mom and encouraged her to meet him. Once they met, it was love at first sight and they were married 6 months later. Jerry got the 3-in-1 package as he welcomed my sister, Lori, and me with loving arms. What a blessing Jerry has been to our entire family. We are grateful for all that he has taught us throughout the last almost 50 years. There just are not enough adjectives to describe him as being a 1st-class man through and through. More people need to be like Jerry Anderson! By the way, he always opened doors for a woman and continued doing so when he was too weak to be doing it but that was his nature. His parents reared him to be a fine gentleman. Jerry never knew a stranger nor had an enemy. With a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, he greeted his lady friends with a kiss and strong embrace. Everyone loved Jerry and he loved them.
Jerry and Ed Tucker joined forces in 1974 and operated Horseman’s Supply along with Roper’s Supply on the Vantage Highway. They built a beautiful western store in 1975 down by the south end of Ellensburg. From the rope and horseshoe business to a full line of everything a western person needed, Jerry and Ed enjoyed a successful business. Eventually, Jerry’s business interests migrated to real estate where for 30+ years he assisted Kittitas Valley farmers and ranchers with the sale of their properties and introduced new property owners to the Valley, frequently helping them get involved in all that the community offered. We owe many thanks to Stacey Tutor for being his wonderful assistant as we all know that Jerry’s computer was a pen and his 3 x 5 cards that he carried in his shirt pocket. Until the day he passed, he still carried those cards and a pen so that he could keep track of each day. To be honest, there were many days that I would ask Geraldine (AKA Jerry) for one of his cards. God bless his soul for needing so little to be very successful.
Even though Jerry worked very hard throughout life, he did enjoy being a snowbird in Arizona. He and Mom started out by going there for 2 weeks, then a month, then 3 months until eventually they would stay 6 months. Their first place was in Cave Creek and then they built their home in Wittmann in 2004 and downsized in 2012. Jerry was so happy when his nephew Mark called to tell him that he and Carrie had just purchased the Wittmann home this past fall. It was full circle for Jerry, and he excitedly called me with the news. His heart was happy knowing that a place we all formerly enjoyed was back in our family.
Since Jerry chose to stop driving this past summer, his phone and the Cowboy Channel were his lifeline along with several loving friends and family who went above and beyond to make his last few months pleasureful. There are too many names to list; however, we want you all to know that the time you spent with him was priceless. The delightful breakfasts, lunches, scenic drives, and visits were so appreciated by our family, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for filling his days with so much fun and joy. He cherished your friendship so keep smiling and roping in his memory.
One of my greatest memories of my dad was when I watched him ride a horse at 85+ years old in Arizona. He proudly rode over to Maverick’s birthday party and surprised him. Due to his health, it had been 10 years since Jerry had ridden a horse and his last ride was one we will all remember! He always loved being a cowboy and riding great horses.
Jerry was respected and trusted across the range of his avocations through the years, and he willingly participated in a variety of activities. He volunteered working the roping chutes at the Ellensburg Rodeo for over 45 years, and he was an early board of director’s member for the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame. Jerry enjoyed his involvement with the 3 and 1 Roping Club and its members: Ken MacRae, Jack Wallace, and Dick Kelly. He was a hard-working member of the Kittitas County Roping Club and loved the competition as well as the camaraderie. Jerry never let the weather stop him from practicing or competing.
Within a few hours of Jerry’s passing, Riley sent me the following text. “Man, I feel like George Strait died! I have had so many messages. It’s truly amazing what a great guy Grandpa was” I told Riley that Grandpa was the best and to always strive to be like him. Please know that we have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated everyone’s delicious meals, kind messages, cards, and calls. Jerry would be pleased to know that he touched so many lives in different ways. It’s been fun to hear past stories, and we hope you can share them at his Celebration of Life on May 12, 2022. Thank you for loving Jerry as much as we all did.
Jerry is survived by his daughters, Mary Minor, her husband Brent, and Lori Fishburn (Dan). Grandchildren Brady (Ashley) Minor, Riley (Jordan) Minor, Britt Fishburn, and Kasadi Fishburn. Great grandchildren Maverick, Monroe, Mesa, and McCoy Minor who were the brightest lights for him this past year. He adored them immensely and looked forward to their visits as they always put a smile on his face and a ping in his heart. His brother, Ron Anderson (Robin), his sister, Linda Dozier, sisters-in-law, Geri Anderson and JoAnn McClelland, numerous nieces and nephews, and his special college friend, JoAnn Switzer. He was preceded in death by his wife, Janis; son, Curtis; great grandson, Blaise Buck Minor; his brother, Ralph Richard Anderson, and his loving parents Clarence and Hazel Anderson. Happy trails, Geraldine. Hug Mom for me. Love always, Mary.
A Celebration of Life and Memorial Team Roping are planned for May 12 and 14, respectively. Please join us on Thursday, May 12, at the KVEC in Ellensburg at 1 pm for food, Vintage Cowboy wine, and fellowship celebrating Jerry’s memorable life. We are also hosting a memorial team roping on Saturday, May 14, at the Flying S Arena. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Jerry’s honor to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame, Hospice, or a charity of your choice.