Edna Anderson’s funeral was this week

Every once in awhile, you meet someone who really was and is a pioneer, and it puts shame to the “we are all pioneers” platitude we like to tell ourselves.

Edna Anderson’s funeral was this week, and I am not the best person to write a eulogy for her.  But I felt someone ought to let the wider world know.  Edna really was a pioneer, and though she will likely never have her story told over the pulpit at General Conference, it should be.

Her online obituary is here, though it doesn’t tell you much.  Edna moved to Homer, Alaska when Alaska was still somewhat of a wild and untamed frontier area.  There was no Mormon presence here.  Yet the current ward of 300+  members is directly traceable to her holding a weekly sunday school in her home.

She was a frontier woman – never happy unless she was working.  She lived for years with no running water or indoor plumbing.  She milked cows and fed horses and sent the kids to the creek.  When company came, she added a little more water and flour to the gravy.  When she came to Homer, the roads were not paved or well maintained, even when there were roads.

When she found that some local ranchers were inactive members, she called them up and thanked them for being in Homer, so that there could be a priesthood presence.  Bit by bit, through sheer force of personality, Edna basically willed the first Homer branch into existence.

I didn’t know her well, but she was always there as I grew up;  I wish I had known her better.  In 2008, when she gave a talk on the history of the church in Homer, I felt inspired to ask her for a copy of the talk.  I am glad I did, because otherwise I would not have that account.

Despite having a PhD in English, one reason I find so much of academic theory (especially literary theory) somewhat silly is because I grew up around people like Edna.  They didn’t have time or patience for theories that bore no resemblance to their lives.

I am not eloquent or knowledgeable enough to give Edna a proper tribute.  The account she gave me is packed away in storage or else I would quote from it instead of these poor words.  Still, a true pioneer has passed away.  She will be welcomed into the arms of the Lord.

She may not have held any progressive political opinions or understood the latest postmodern theories being advocated at the latest trendy symposiums, but if anyone will be told “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” she will.

Well done, Edna.  The world is a better place because of her.

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About Ivan W.

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was just shy of 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has five kids and four stepkids.

7 thoughts on “Edna Anderson’s funeral was this week

  1. Ivan, thank you for sharing a little piece of the story about Edna Anderson. The Church is definitely growing and thriving because of people like Edna.

    This was the perfect ending to my Sabbath. Thank you for sharing this post.

  2. Ivan, thank you so much for this tribute. Someday when you do find her account, I hope you’ll post again — I want to know more about her.

  3. Thank you Ivan. I have had the privilege to know great modern day pioneers of the South. I love to hear their testimonies and their experiences.

  4. Wonderfully done, Ivan — eloquent in its simplicity, proper in its warmness and authenticity.

    I also like your point about literary theory. Too much is disconnected from the stories, the narratives that bring actual meaning and joy and understanding to our lives.

  5. Thank you. I love hearing about people like Edna. They are few and far between, but inspiring too. I only wish we could know them before they pass away.

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