Cover photo for Florence Anderson's Obituary
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Florence Anderson

January 1, 1929 — May 10, 2024

Florence Atwater Van Dyke Anderson

January 1st 1929 - May 10th 2024


Florence Van Dyke Anderson, known as Flodie, passed away on Friday May 10th at Frasier Meadows retirement community in Boulder, Colorado.

Flodie was born in Middletown Connecticut on the 1st of January 1929 to Karl Skillman Van Dyke and Lua Stewart Docking Van Dyke. Her father was a physics professor at Wesleyan College. All summers were spent at a cottage on Heron Island on the Maine coast, joining her parents, brother Karl Jr. and sisters Louise (Weezie) and Muriel (Mur). In WWII, the family moved La Jolla California where her father was embedded in sonar development for the navy. Her high school education therefore began in California, followed by a year in Washington DC, and finished back in Middletown. Flodie followed her mother's footsteps by enrolling in Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She flourished there, majoring in math, and graduated in the class of 1950. She remained devoted to Wellesley for the rest of her life, serving as a trustee in the 1980s.

On a blind date organized by their roommates, Flodie met and fell in love with her future husband John Anderson, then at Harvard studying architecture. They married on August 26, 1950, embarking on a 67-year adventure. That adventure launched when John finished his master's in architecture in 1952, and they put everything they owned in a 1949 Chevy to head West. They landed in Denver, where they knew no one. They began their family with births of Robert in 1952 and David in 1954, while embracing the challenges and opportunities of a growing city, and a mountainous backdrop that provided access to superb skiing and hiking.

While Flodie deeply supported John's career as he began his own architectural practice in 1960, she had her own career as well. She joined the League of Women Voters in 1957 and became president of the Denver Metropolitan League in 1968. Her involvement in the League at the county and then at the regional and state level began her engagement with the challenges of transportation in a growing metropolitan area. In 1969 Governor Love selected her to become a founding member of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) board, the sole woman in a group of 21. They took on the rescue of a failing bus system (ultimately transformed into The Ride), design of the light rail system, and establishment of the mall in downtown Denver, among the more visible accomplishments. A 1975 paper she wrote for the American Society of Civil Engineers on the regional transportation issues facing the metropolitan area of Denver established her as a significant transportation voice in the region. She was eventually chair of the RTD board. When it transitioned in 1982 to elected rather than appointed positions, Flodie stepped down. She received the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) Distinguished Service Award in 1982. But her skills were tapped again in 1978 when Governor Lamm appointed her to the Colorado Transportation Commission - an appointment that was renewed by Governor Romer for a second term. For more than a decade she was immersed in statewide transportation issues and engaged deeply in finalizing C-470, finding a solution for a 4-lane highway through Glenwood Canyon that preserved its beauty, and in the establishment of the Scenic Byway program in the state.

The League of Women Voters remained an anchor for her civic activities. As president of the Colorado LWV from 2005-2007, she was asked to serve on the Colorado State House Ethics Panel. This led to being asked to serve on the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, and she chaired the Colorado Judicial Institute Board, whose role it is to preserve the fairness, impartiality, and excellence of Colorado's courts. In 2017 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado League of Women Voters.

Flodie was also a consistent supporter of the Arts. She was president of the Evergreen Area Council for the Arts, and worked tirelessly to support the Colorado Philharmonic (then in Evergreen; now NRO or National Repertory Orchestra) as it gained recognition and ultimately found a permanent home in Breckenridge. She served as a docent for 30 years at the Denver Art Museum. She also loved the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra.

Together, Flodie and Andy helped to make the Denver area, and for that matter the state, what it is today. Indeed, they were recognized together for their joint contributions by receipt of the Dana Crawford Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation in 2004. They embraced the essence of Colorado. They completed climbing of Colorado's 14ers in 1990, Flodie then at the age of 61.

Family and friends mattered tremendously. She was fiercely supportive of her family and reveled in the chances to interact with her grandchildren. She read deeply and broadly, and treasured the chance to talk about both her reading and issues of the day. She was critical, even judgmental, but always ready to listen. These traits led to the formation of long-standing friendships that punctuated and gave true and deep meaning to her life.

Her husband John Anderson (Andy), died 7 years ago. She was the last of her generation of Van Dykes. She is remembered fondly by her two sons, Rob and Dave, their wives Suzanne and Nan, her four grandchildren Hannah and Grace, and Elsa and Will, and three great-grandchildren Robin, Aurelia and Homer. She also leaves behind a wake of friends and admirers at the Frasier Meadows retirement community, which served beautifully as her home and community for these last seven years.

She will be missed and remembered. It is not a surprise that on the day of her passing the aurora borealis was seen in Boulder for the first time in decades. She was that special.

Her life will be celebrated with family and friends at Frasier Meadows on Thursday May 30th at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Frasier Meadows Caring for Others fund, the Denver Art Museum, or the League of Women Voters.

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