Gerry Anderson: ‘A Wonderful Life’
Longtime Molokai resident and former owner of The Molokai Dispatch, Gerry Anderson, has passed away at the age of 83, leaving a legacy of travel, science, kindness and a newspaper. He and his wife, Edie, lived in West Molokai since 1987, 18 years of which he battled lymphoma, while they pursued their love of world travel.
“When he was in the last few days, he looked at me and said, ‘You know, I’ve had a wonderful life,’” Edie recalled. “He meant it… He had a traumatic childhood but he didn’t dwell on it. Everything he did, he was self-made.”
Gerry was born in China in 1935 and grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957 and his career in the Navy was in the missile field, working at several bases around the country. He earned his Master’s degree from Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961 and went on to get his PhD in Aerospace Engineering and became a professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology’ School.
He and Edie met on a blind date when she was a senior in high school and he was nearing graduation at the Academy, with four years between them. They were married two years later.
“We were only together in those two years for about six days,” Edie said. She was in college, while he was stationed elsewhere. “Writing letters, we got to really know each other. That was 62 years ago. It brings joy.”
After retiring from the Air Force with 20 years of service, he became Chief Scientist for ORINCON Corporation in San Diego and later transferred to their office on Oahu, where the company focused on submarine acoustical work, said Edie. They had visited Molokai and “fell in love with it” and had bought a condo, which they planned to move to after their son and daughter left home. But finding no housing on Oahu, they decided to buy a home on Molokai instead and Gerry commuted to work on Oahu for 10 years.
Edie started doing some writing for The Molokai Dispatch, which was owned by Bill Bevens at the time. In 1992, Charlie Pastorino purchased the paper but shortly afterward, had to move to the mainland, and Edie and Gerry took over ownership. There were three newspaper on Molokai at the time.
“We didn’t want the island with just one paper… we thought we needed a neutral voice,” said Edie. “We picked it up and didn’t realize what we were getting into. It became our life for a long time.”
They led the paper through some challenging times, including a lawsuit against the paper and internal embezzlement. When Gerry was diagnosed with lymphoma, their dedication to the Dispatch never wavered.
“We were publishing the paper from his hospital bed at Tripler [Hospital],” said Edie.
Ten years after the Andersons took the reigns, local boy Todd Yamashita stepped in and transitioned to ownership of the paper.
“I would like to acknowledge Gerry’s kindness and generosity in making sure the paper lived on,” said Yamashita, president of The Molokai Dispatch. “When I first got to the paper, I really didn’t have much background in journalism and especially newspapers. So not only did they help me finance the paper but they also trained me to run it and paid me during that time.”
Yamashita recalled Gerry’s words of wisdom.
“Gerry would always tell me, ‘When something comes across your desk, do it then and there,’” he said. “If it wasn’t for Gerry’s love for me and the Dispatch itself, we wouldn’t be able celebrating 34 years of the newspaper.”
Edie said their world travels as a couple helped them appreciate “how wonderful Molokai is.”
“We had 62 grand years together,” she said. “Our great joy in the last years has been travel — the North and South poles and all continents… we explored the world. Just last spring we had a three month trip Down Under and that was something we absolutely treasured together.
“The more you travel, the more Molokai means to you,” she continued. “Having traveled, we learned not to take home for granted.”
They continued to travel throughout Gerry’s illness.
“He was a tough guy… He never complained,” Edie said. “I know it was harder than he let on, he never gave in to anything.”
In the past couple weeks since his death at their home on Aug. 21, Edie said she’s received an outpouring from old friends and fellow Molokai residents.
Edie said his classmates at the Academy and MIT told her they “never could have gotten through if it wasn’t for Gerry,” as in addition to his own studies, he helped others as a tutor.
“He is remembered for his sense of humor, for his kindness, for his gentleness,” she said.