March 10, 2010

Furniture maker killed while mountain biking

ANN S

— By . KIM

Staff Writer

A furniture maker from Long Island was killed in a mountain biking accident in western Pennsylvania during the weekend.

Robert Gardner Anderson, 44, died Sunday on a bicycle trail at Brady's Run Park in Beaver County. Anderson was on a portion of the trail that narrowed at a small bridge when his bicycle got stuck on something, said Beaver County Coroner Teri Tatalovich-Rossi.

Anderson was thrown over the handlebars and hit his head on a rock, she said.

Anderson, who was wearing a helmet, died of injuries to his head and neck, Tatalovich-Rossi said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anderson and his 6-year-old daughter, Ella, were in Pennsylvania to visit his mother, Betty Anderson of New Brighton, about 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Anderson grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Robert Morris College in Chicago, where he studied sports management and minored in math.

He had always liked art, however, and later went to the Maine College of Art and earned a master's degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. He met his wife, artist Lisa Whelan, in Maine.

Anderson and his brother, David Anderson, both were drawn to Maine, Betty Anderson said. Both sons were attracted to the ocean and the mountains and liked to bike and ski, she said.

Robert Anderson later settled on Long Island in Casco Bay. In the early 1990s, he bought a cottage from his brother, who had moved to Austin, Texas, for a job.

Anderson had his own wood shop on the island, where he made pieces of his own design.

His work life was as varied as his education and included time building boats and a stint as a manufacturing supervisor at National Semiconductor.

Island life suited Anderson, whose laid-back attitude and big heart took to the slower pace of life and the people he befriended, David Anderson said.

''He moved out to the island and became part of the community there, very active and very engaged with the people,'' he said. ''I think that was a big part of it.''

Betty Anderson said she has been hearing much about how beloved her son was in his community. And when Ella was told of her father's death, she responded, ''My dad always made everybody happy.''

Funeral plans have not been finalized, but services will be held in Pennsylvania and on Long Island.

Anderson was an avid cycler who belonged to a racing club in Maine.

He and David Anderson cycled quite a bit on the island, and he was always safety-conscious, his brother said.

''It was just a surprise, a tragic thing,'' David Anderson said of the accident. ''He had his helmet on.''

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

akim@pressherald.com

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