257 SE Roberts, Gresham, OR 97080

Joseph Wayne Anderson September 12, 1938 - November 14, 2023

Joe was born in Portland to Ralph and Eleanor Anderson in 1938. His siblings were Charlene and Richard. Both preceded him in death. They each had children who called him “Uncle Joe”. He started tap dance lessons at the age of 14. As a senior at Jefferson High School, he was a full-time entertainer. He toured Oregon as a “Journal Junior”, which were newspaper-sponsored entertainers. After graduating high school in 1956, he moved to Hollywood to take dance lessons. There, he met the Lennon Sisters and become good friends with them.

He returned home to attend Portland State and Clark College with a tennis scholarship. In 1959, he bought “The House of Leon” dance studios with 3000 students. He was a ‘comedy dancer’ for 10 years, travelling the fair circuits as a support act to the likes of The Lawrence Welk Show. He appeared on the Bob Crosby and Ted Mack Amateur Hours. One of Joe’s personas was a gun fighter at a Frontier Village.

Joe started working for the Gresham Police in 1988 as a Community Safety Specialist. He served on many boards and task forces. For 10 years, he had a monthly TV show of Public Access TV. He wrote and produced many info videos for GPD, and many crime prevention articles for magazines and newspapers. He was a very strong advocate for seniors and children.

He was a member of the Gresham Lions Supper Club and the Gresham Optimist Club, where he helped raise money for needy families and children. Joe always said that he wanted to give back to the community the way they had given to him.

Paula became his wife in 1980. They shared 2 children from previous relationships—John and Jennifer. Several grandchildren joined the family. He retired from GPD in 2002 to take care of Paula, who passed away in 2006. He is also preceded in death by Jennifer.

Not able to stay away from police activities for very long, Joe joined the Vancouver Police Department Neighbors On Watch program. He retired from NOW in 2023.

At the time of his death, he was a member of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Vancouver. He participated in bible studies and helped with the community shelter program. He loved maintaining a garden space at the church gardens. He became a charter member of the Springwood Landing community in 2018.

Joe’s sense of humor and compassion for others will be deeply missed by many.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in memory of Joe Anderson.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00p.m. Saturday, December 9, 2023, at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church 12513 SE Mill Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA. 98684.  In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in memory of Joe Anderson.


  1. REPLY
    Heidi (Caldwell) Fetters says

    Old Joe, you were such a bright light and always brought laughter to the workplace; I am grateful for all of the years we worked together. Knowing you have been joyfully reunited with those who waited for you on the other side brings a smile to my face. Rest in peace, dear friend.

  2. REPLY
    Wally Coon says

    I never met a man that was happier than Joe. He always had a smile on his face and a laugh to share. Joe was an exceptional guy and treated others as if they were family. One of the kindest souls I have ever known. You didn’t walk away from any conversation with him without feeling better about the world. He had a positive outlook in everything I saw him take on. He made the Gresham Police Department a happier place whenever he was in the building. We miss you Joe.

  3. REPLY
    Brad Roe says

    My buddy Joe. Every time he would walk into my work at Weston’s, I would say, “Is that the citizen of the year 2000 Joe Anderson?” He loved it, and so deserving of this award.
    He will be missed by so many, it’s countless. His heart for was Gresham, and anyone in need, he was there for them.
    Rest in peace Joe, we love you man
    Brad Roe

  4. REPLY
    Debbie Purkerson says

    Brother Joe,
    You came into our family as a bright light. We had some fine fun times. Never will forget the time you mooned Paula’s mother. Dave and Travis even write a song about it( sung at your retirement from the police department), that was priceless!
    Say hi to the rest of the family, until we meet again.

  5. REPLY
    Judith Hillend says

    Our days in Gresham Optimist’s Club were always brighter with Joe there. And when we supported Shop With a Cop, Joe was always front and center. But he never tap danced for us. What a wonderful history you leave behind for us to follow. I’ll never forget you, Joe. Rest in peace.

  6. REPLY
    John Tallmon says

    Joe was always around the hockey rink when I was kid, I played hockey with his son Jon. He was also so nice and personable, thank you for your service to our community and for always being a supportive parent for Portland Amateur Hockey.

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