Dense fog

‘Andy’ Anderson reaches the century mark

<p align="left">If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to reach the age of 100, Albert Anderson will happily tell you that it’s pretty darn good. He appreciates each day and has no regrets. He just wishes his partner of 43 years, Joe Hines, had lived to see him reach this landmark birthday.</p>

<p align="left">His vision is failing, but his smile rarely fades. “I enjoy life,” said this centurion who could easily pass for 80. “I’ve always looked younger than I am,” he said, eyes sparkling. “Well, that’s what they tell me.”</p>

<p align="left">Andy, as he’s known, was born in Chadron, Neb., in 1914, when Tinkertoys were brand new, Babe Ruth was playing his first year in the majors with the Boston Red Sox and the average annual income was $1,055. He grew up on a ranch in a four-room house with a brother and two sisters, attended a one-room schoolhouse and was proud that his mom was known for being the best cook in town.</p>

<p align="left">He joined the Army Air Corp in 1941, flew bombing missions with the Hellbirds out of India and China, and was discharged in 1946 as a flight officer. Returning home, he attended Chadron State, decided it wasn’t where he wanted to be, and ended up with a degree in architecture and interior design from the University of Colorado, Boulder. “I loved Denver. It was the first city I’d ever seen,” he said. He was the house manager for his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.</p>

<p align="left">When he graduated, he once again went back to Chadron before finally confirming that farm life was not for him. He headed to California and discovered San Francisco, “which was so much more cosmopolitan.” He met Joe in 1952 and set down roots. “He was one terrific man. As soon as I met him I knew that was it.”</p>

<p align="left">Andy said the best years of their lives were when they were buying houses and apartment buildings in San Francisco, completely redoing them, and then going on to the next one. They started in the early 1960s, and quit their jobs in 1967 to renovate fulltime. “I loved that kind of work, and Joe did too.”</p>

<p align="left">In 1974, they bought a large home in Vallejo for themselves and remodeled it to perfection. It was furnished meticulously with antiques and oil paintings. They had Waterford Crystal, Limoges china and sterling silver, which they used at their frequent cocktail and dinner parties. “We had a home, not a house,” Andy said.</p>

<p align="left">Andy and Joe traveled extensively, and especially enjoyed cruises. Europe, Dubai, Rio, New Zealand, Cambodia – there weren’t many places they missed and their experiences were far reaching. They walked on the Great Wall in China and in 1983 Andy caught a 35-pound salmon in Alaska.</p>

<p align="left">Andy was devastated when Joe, a lifelong smoker, died of emphysema in 1995. “I wanted to get out of there,” he said. He sold their home and all their treasures and moved back to San Francisco. “To me, they were just possessions. I rule the possessions, they don’t rule me.”</p>

<p align="left">He eventually moved to the veterans home in Yountville for a couple of years, but it didn’t meet his expectations and he started searching the internet for a new idea. He has lived at Emeritus Retirement Community (formerly Merrill Gardens) for two years now, where he likes his cheerful, one-bedroom apartment. “I’ve got a lot of good friends here who keep it going,” he said. “Couldn’t ask for a nicer group of people.” He goes on all bus trips and plays bingo and blackjack, “and our chef, Robert, does a darn good job with the meals, and he has good help.”</p>

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