Again, I find myself writing you about an Alaska friend who has died. That friend is a man who always had a smile for anyone that came across his path.
I am amazed to see some of the same qualities in our friends in Alaska. I truly believe that Alaskans are a special breed of people. They are strong, independent, loving and caring people that have the desire to live their dreams.
When I first came to Alaska, Les Anderson was one of the first people that I met. Since he was the owner of the Chevron station, at the "Y" in Soldotna, I had stopped to fuel my vehicle. Les was the one that assisted me. He not only greeted me with one of the biggest smiles that I had ever seen, but made a man who was on a new adventure to Alaska feel welcomed.
After becoming a police officer, I had the opportunity to visit Les many times. I have never heard the man say anything bad about another person. He seemed to have a peace about him that I was seeking. He seemed to know who he was and what his purpose in life was. He had the qualities of a man that I wanted so badly to have. He was a man that had the peace of God within him.
My heart continues to tug at me as I reflect on Les Anderson, and so many others that I have been blessed with knowing from the Soldotna-Kenai area. People who are down to earth, but carry a standard of integrity and honesty, that is so much admired by myself as well as many others. Les Anderson was that type of man. He taught me much, without him ever knowing that he did. He showed me the true measure of a man, without ever saying a word or judging me or others. He was a man who carried the banner high so that all could see it clearly without being demeaning or caustic if someone did not agree with his point of view.
Although it has been many years since I have lived in my beloved Soldotna, I was truly proud of my friend when he became internationally known for his king salmon catch. In his humble way, even when he was capturing all of the glory of the attention of the moment, he wanted to share the glory with his friend Bud Loffsted.
It is men like Les Anderson who have helped me over the years, as I would make decisions in my life about what is right and what is wrong. I would ask myself "What would a man of honesty and integrity like Les Anderson do?" It would not be long before I knew what the right answer would be.
I am sincerely humbled to have had the opportunity of befriending a person such as Les. I am pleased to know that when I get to heaven I will have the opportunity of seeing him again, as his faith, like mine, is in a loving, gracious Lord!
Tom Bearup, former Soldotna mayor
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