George R. Anderson died on October 8, 2021, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
(The following was provided by the Gill Brothers Funeral Directors – Richfield/Bloomington on February 16, 2022)
George R. Anderson age 87, of Falcon Heights, passed away peacefully on October 8, 2021. He was a 47-year Twin Cities resident. He is predeceased by his first wife, Diane, his sister, Janet Peterson, a nephew, Rick Peterson, and his stepdaughter, Kate Schmid. He leaves behind his wife, Catherine Wengler, children Mark and Peter, stepson John Schmid, and three grandchildren. His loving family and friends across the years were with him in his final days as he bid farewell after a decade-long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
George (known to grandkids as “Granders”) was an innovator with a sharp and questioning mind and was known to friends, colleagues and family as a kind and gentle man. He was born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1934 to a father who’d served in World War I and a mother who’d survived the Spanish Flu. He treasured his early years in the house his father built, with both parents and his sister, Janet, which made for a jovial, convivial, and very musical household. In high school and college, George served as lifeguard and summer camp counselor, kickstarting a lifelong love of waterways and the natural world.
An inspirational uncle bought grade-school-aged George a chemistry set, which he later credited with sparking his fascination with the physical sciences. Majoring in math and chemistry, he graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1956. He then earned a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1961.
As professor and research scientist, George’s work and teaching over the years included appointments at Dupont, Swarthmore College, the University of Groningen, Wesleyan University, Bowdoin College, the University of Minnesota, and the Pillsbury Company. George loved both pure and applied chemistry, making contributions to the study of infrared spectroscopy and the structural dynamics of water as well as securing patents toward the invention of microwave popcorn and microwave dough crispers (e.g., pizza). In 2000,he also developed a 3D reimagining of the periodic table of the elements that educators have praised for its intuitive elegance.
George and Catherine (m. 2000) led an enriching life in south Minneapolis, where George pursued his passions for math and the humanities. Ever the teacher, George would challenge friends over weekly coffee gatherings with a puzzle or science quiz. In 2008, the couple moved into a community of retired and emeritus University of Minnesota faculty, where he served as president of the board and organized the facility’s annual Pi day (3/14).
George delighted in The Bard and in the Elizabethan court poet-playwright Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as the possible concealed author behind the byline “Shakespeare.” In 1996, George chaired the committee that hosted an annual conference of de Vere scholars (the Shakespeare Oxford Society) in the Twin Cities.
To nearly his last breath, George expressed his belief in the importance of truth and ethics in contemporary life. His political convictions (an ardent Democrat) and his love of the arts, philosophy and baseball connected him with the world. He joyed in sharing Shakespeare (or de Vere) quotes that found precedent with remarkable moments in life and current events. Such as, “Time cannot make that false which was once true.”