Lutheran groups raise money for Anderson family

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 27, 2002

The setting was perfect Sunday for the climactic moment in the Lisa Anderson story at Grace Lutheran Church of Austin.

It was Vacation Bible School Sunday and the church was decorated with the backdrop for the story of Jonah and the whale.

A full-house of God of morning worshipers came to see the efforts of their children and hear their sons of praise.

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There was a baptism: Jordan Rose DeLamater, daughter of Tim and Kristin and that brought even more people to the mid-morning service.

There was also the young man and his two sons: Jamey Anderson and Alex, 9, and Adam, 5.

Before the song of joyful noise made by the Vacation Bible School children, before Jordan Rose's acceptance into the church and before the story of Jonah and the lessons to be learned, senior pastor, the Rev. Harold Deye, invited the father and his sons to the front of the church. There, Don Jackel, a church member and Aid Association for Lutherans Branch No. 11020, presented the father and his sons with monies raised from summertime fundraisers on behalf of the Anderson family in honor of the loss of their loved one, Lisa Anderson.

In all, $11,172 was raised for the Anderson family, while another $636 in in-kind services came from Lutheran Brotherhood Branch No. 8198.

"This was a very gratifying experience for all of us," Jackel said. "It was an example of people caring about other people."

He said the successful fundraiser reminded him of the saying "Imagination is all you need to get started. Heart is all you need to succeed."

According to Jackel, the Lisa Anderson fundraising efforts had both. "The people who took this thing over just did a great job. The benefit kept getting bigger and bigger with everything they did," Jackel said.

One gesture multiplied into others. When the church's quilting women learned about the benefit, they bought groceries for the family. When a local grocer learned about the need, he bought more groceries for the family.

On Sunday, the dollars were added and given to the family, who must deal with the loss of their wife and mother.

Jamey Anderson accepted the checks presented him and expressed his deepest appreciation.

He said he had to admonish his wife about being too generous in life as they struggled to make ends meet. "She was a very caring person herself and I guess what goes around comes around. Thank you all very much," he said.

Deye said the aftermath of Lisa Anderson's accident and her heroic battle to regain her health before dying were a "wrenching time for all of us."

Lisa Anderson, a teenage sweetheart of her husband, Jamey, and a former Austin business-owner, suffered multiple severe injuries in an Easter Sunday morning accident this past spring. Despite complications of diabetes, she fought back and was for a time healthy enough to be released from the hospital. However, a relapse of illness and injury sent her back to the hospital, where she later died.

Church members led by Janine Anderson and Sandy Bonnes, with help from coordinating committee chairperson Sandy Hunn, began a fundraiser for the family.

The amount of money raised speaks to the success of the church members' efforts.

The AAL branch matched contributions up to $1,000, but the generosity of well-wishers pushed the total far beyond that amount.

LaVonna Johnson, an officer in Lutheran Brotherhood Branch No. 8198, said the fraternal benefits society's rules prevented a direct cash contribution, but $636 in in-kind services was their willing contribution to help benefit the family.

The young father said after the presentation, the money will go toward paying for his wife's funeral expenses. An employee of Hormel Foods' Austin plant, Anderson's wife was not insured by the company's health insurance policy.

Anything left over will go into a savings account for unanticipated future needs.

The father of two school-age boys is likely to have many in the years ahead as he embarks on his new "Mister Mom" role in life.

"The other day, I had to register Alex and Adam for school and then one of the boys had to go to the dentist and that night we went to a Twins game and I thought 'If Lisa were here, she would know what to do' and I really felt overwhelmed by it all, but we're going to make out somehow," he said.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at