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.