Over two dozen relatives of Amos Anderson gathered in front of the Preston City Hall in Preston, Minn., on Sunday, December 10, 2017, as the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce dedicated this year’s Chamber Christmas Tree in memory of Anderson.
Many others, including Preston residents and friends of Anderson, came to view the unveiling of the Christmas tree and to share memories of Anderson.
The Preston Area Chamber of Commerce (PACC) began dedicating Christmas trees in 2014 and, “The goal was to dedicate the Christmas tree each year in memory of someone that the Chamber felt had made a significant impact to the Preston community,” according to Gabby Kinneberg, Executive Director of the PACC.
Nominations are made each year and the PACC Board decides who they feel is an appropriate selection.
“This year, the PACC board members decided that Amos Anderson was a wonderful person to remember at the Christmas Tree Dedication,” says Kinneberg, adding, “the PACC has really decided to focus their efforts on their local veterans this year and in 2018,” and will be working on different projects involving veterans.
“Amos, a WWII veteran, was a well-known Preston community member who actually served as the first Commander of the Magdlin-Gilbertson Post 6893 at the Preston Servicemen’s Club,” notes Kinneberg, which was chartered on April 7, 1946.
“Amos was also an active Preston Lions Club member,” states Kinneberg, noting how important his Lions Club vest was to him. Anderson also worked for the United States Postal Service for 35 years and was active in many community organizations, including the Garden Club.
Amos Sidney Anderson, born February 16, 1913, passed away January 28, 2015, at the age of 101.
The Tree Dedication Ceremony began with Kinneberg welcoming those in attendance and thanking everyone, especially Anderson’s family members, for coming to the ceremony.
“Amos was a pretty big celebrity,” in Preston, stated Kinneberg, as the crowd chuckled and nodded their heads, so everyone was especially happy so many family members could be there.
Becky Jones, President of the PACC, approached the microphone following Kinneberg and explained that she knew Anderson well, first as a neighbor for five years and then eventually becoming his therapist when he entered the nursing home in Harmony.
Jones holds many endearing memories of Anderson in her heart and said, “Amos was so charismatic,” and always made her smile.
The PACC board always wants to choose somebody that exhibited Preston Pride, said Jones, adding that, “Amos certainly had the Preston Pride and it showed in his actions.”
“There is no better person to exhibit Preston Pride than Amos Anderson,” Jones stated, adding, “we truly appreciate what he did for our community.”
Nathan Pike, former Fillmore County Veterans Service Officer and current Olmsted County Veterans Service Officer, then spoke about what Anderson did for his country.
Pike knew Anderson through the Veterans Affairs Office and stated his first impression of Anderson was his handshake. “His hands were the size of bear paws,” Pike said, and even in his late ‘90s when they met, Anderson’s grip felt like it could crush his hand.
Pike explained that Anderson had been in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) before the war. Anderson was a WWII veteran and was in the European Theatre, also known as the Second European War, and was a medium tank crew member, according to Pike. Anderson was in the 12th 69th Engineer Battalion – Company C.
Anderson was involved in battles and campaigns including Rhineland and Central Europe. He had combat duty in the Alps in severe weather conditions. Anderson saw Italy, France and Germany while serving overseas.
Anderson was among the troops to first liberate the concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, according to a PACC press release.
“He’s from that generation that everything they had to do and just survive, they had to work hard for,” stated Pike.
Anderson received medals for his service, including the Good Conduct Medal, the European African Middle-Eastern Campaign Ribbon with two Bronze Stars (Rhineland and Central Europe), and the WWII Victory Medal.
When asked what the Tree Dedication Ceremony meant to him, Amos’ grandson, Tom Anderson, of Burnsville, Minn., said it was “a really cool experience to see the town recognize Grandpa and just be able to come down here and have a little family get-together as well as just celebrating the town.”
Amos’ great-granddaughter Aurora Anderson, 15, of Burnsville, only has a couple memories of Amos, as she lived in California for many years, but the memories she has are “all pretty sweet and funny,” she says, like how he used to hold her in his lap.
Lindsey Watson, Amos’ granddaughter, who grew up in Burnsville and now lives in Phoenix, Ariz., said the ceremony was very special to her, as she explains, “I wasn’t able to come up for Grandpa’s funeral. I was pregnant at the time, so it’s kind of cool to get to be here for this (ceremony).
Richard Milne of Preston, Anderson’s great-nephew, shared the thoughts of those at the ceremony when he stated, “It’s honoring Amos — that’s the main thing,” and the reason so many who knew him came to the dedication.
The emotional PACC Christmas Tree Dedication Ceremony came to an end with a blessing of the tree by Pastor Dan Bredberg of Christ Lutheran Church. It was a meaningful ceremony fitting for a man who led such a meaningful life.
Specials thanks to Blossom Hill orchard & farm of Preston for the donation of the Christmas tree, Preston Floral & Gift for ribbon donation and Terri’s Tender Lovin’ Stitches of Preston for donating the tree skirt.