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Leonard Anderson

Obituary of Leonard Mahlon Anderson

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Obituary Leonard Mahlon Anderson (1944-2024) The beloved poet Len Anderson, 79, died peacefully at home in Santa Cruz, CA, Tuesday morning, January 30th, 2024, in the loving presence of his wife Elke Maus. Len lived bravely with Alzheimer's for seven years. Len was a kind shepherd and steady force in the Santa Cruz poetry community, co-founding Poetry Santa Cruz in 2000 and Hummingbird Press in 2002, running the high school poetry competitions, printing their anthologies, and bringing countless poet readers to town and books by local poets into print. Leonard Mahlon Anderson was born July 11, 1944 in Palo Alto and was an altar boy as a child. His mother, Winifred Lulu Ranck, was an avid reader and a progressive Catholic with a free spirit. His father, also Leonard Mahlon Anderson, was a salesman for Bethlehem Steel. Len grew up in Los Altos and attended St. Francis High School. He went on to major in physics at U.C. Berkeley where he received his Bachelor of Science. Drafted during the Vietnam War, Len became a Conscientious Objector and thereby secured a non-combat service role as a “Senior Assistant Health Service Officer,” stationed in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was honorably released from selective service in 1970. Len went on to earn a PhD in physics at U.C. Berkeley in 1978. During graduate studies, Len worked as a research assistant in experimental elementary particle physics at the Bevatron, Lawrence Berkeley Labs. Len then enjoyed three years of post-graduate work in applied physics at the École Polytechnique outside of Paris and assisting with research in particle physics at CERN. While in France he became fluent in French. Upon his return to California, at a party in San Francisco on May 1, 1981, Len met Elke Maus, who was immediately impressed by his excellent French. Elke herself was a native German speaker who also knew some French. Elke was taken with Len’s sincere, shy nature; here was a vegetarian who could woo her with a passion for quantum physics. When Len wrote Elke a poem the next day, Elke was smitten, and when he played the blues harmonica, she was thrilled. As Elke describes Len, “He was a listener. He had humility. I never heard him curse.” Elke and Len married in 1983 and were married for 41years. They first settled in West San José. Len spent 17 years as a scientist in private industry, developing sensors for the automation of paper manufacturing for Measurex in Cupertino. While still employed, Len joined Waverly Writers, one of the oldest poetry sharing forums in California. In 1992-93, Len wrote the book-length poem: Beep, A Version of the History of the Personal Computer Rendered in Free Verse in the Manner of Howl by Allen Ginsberg. After retirement in 1998, Len and Elke moved to Santa Cruz, where Len devoted himself to his poetry and to the Santa Cruz poetry community. Len became a member of the “Emerald Street Poets” and co-published an anthology with them in 2007, Harvest from the Emerald Orchard: An Anthology of the Emerald Street Poets. Len was also member of Joseph Stroud’s poetry-sharing community, and a regular attendee at Esalen poetry workshops, Great Mother Conferences, and Asilomar weekends with Robert Bly, often helping bring Bly to Santa Cruz for readings at the old Attic above the Blue Lagoon. Len’s own full-length collections of poetry, Affection for the Unknowable (2004), Invented by the Night (2011), and The Way Home (2019) were published by Hummingbird Press, and define a unique achievement in American poetry, exploring both the inner and outer universes with humor, passion, and precision. Len won awards for his poetry, including the Dragonfly Press Poetry Competition and the Mary Lonnberg Smith Poetry Award. As a leader in the poetry community for two decades, Len navigated the role of gentle impresario with diligence, patience, and tact, and brought the community into the digital age by creating and managing the Poetry Santa Cruz website. Len would perform his own poetry around town, sometimes accompanying himself on conga drums. In later years, Len could often be seen on long walks through Pleasure Point or writing poems at The Abbey coffee house. Len Anderson was a flamenco dancer, a writer of ghazals, a player of the blues harmonica. He was a passionate agnostic who wed worlds of science and spirit in an unending search for meaning in the gossamer of language. He was a loyal and devoted friend to many. All who knew Len will miss his gentle humility and his kind, tuneful, ever-searching, ever-listening mind. Len is survived by his wife Elke Maus; a nephew, Michael Anderson and his wife Keli; and four grandnephews and grandnieces, Sidney, Kate, Jack, and Ella, all of Utah. Len’s brother, Glenn Anderson, for many years a journalist and editor for a small newspaper east of Los Angeles, died of Alzheimer’s a decade past. A memorial for Len Anderson will take place at 1:00 PM on Sunday, July 14th at the Horticultural Center Community Building atop the Cabrillo College campus, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA. Please RSVP through Len's memorial website: Donations in memory of Len to the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County are welcome.
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Leonard Anderson

In Loving Memory

Leonard Anderson

1944 - 2024

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