Margaret Anderson wrote in her 1995 high school yearbook that “each season allows for growth and wonderful experiences. Memories remain, each new one being dear.”
The memories now belong to her family, friends and colleagues in the National Park Service.
Anderson was shot to death on the road to Paradise on the first day of the new year while setting up a roadblock to stop a man who blew past a tire-chain checkpoint.
The 34-year-old Eatonville woman was the daughter of a Lutheran minister, and her family attended Bethany Lutheran Church in Spanaway. On Monday evening, the Rev. Galen Gallimore and members of the congregation gathered for a prayer vigil for the slain park ranger.
Anderson and her husband, fellow ranger Eric Anderson, had been attending Bethany Lutheran regularly for about two years, Gallimore said. The oldest Anderson girl, Anna, 3, had attended vacation Bible school over the summer, and her little sister, Katie, 1, was a regular in the church nursery.
“She (Margaret) did connect with a few of the families here because of the connection with the mountain,” Gallimore said, noting that a handful of Bethany Lutheran families are Park Service employees or former employees.
Nancy Woodward is one of them. She works in human resources for the park service.
“I saw Eric and Margaret here at worship,” she said Monday. “They were a wonderful family. Very loving toward their girls. Margaret was a devoted mom.”
Like other park employees, Woodward said Anderson was known for her positive outlook at work.
“She was extremely passionate about working for the National Park Service,” park Superintendent Randy King said. “She was highly trained and an excellent law enforcement officer.
Kelli Bacher, a church member who is married to park spokesman Kevin Bacher and is a former Park Service employee, said working at Mount Rainier is unlike any other job.
“It’s a tight-knit community,” she said. “It’s family. Even though I didn’t know Margaret personally, it still hurts.”
Woodward said that’s why she and others came to offer prayers for the grieving family. She said it was important to be “uplifting Eric and his family.”
Gallimore said Bethany Lutheran wants the community to know that in a time of sorrow, it can be “another place where people can go to find a touchstone for their faith.”
Members of the congregation that Anderson’s father leads in New Jersey remembered her as a woman who took God into her heart.
Jim Buckman told a local reporter that Margaret was an “extremely bright and godly woman.”
“She graduated at the top of her class,” Buckman said. “She was doing what she wanted to do. This is what she really felt called to do.”
Margaret Annalise (Kritsch) Anderson was born in 1977. She graduated from New Jersey’s Westfield High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree – with cum laude honors in fisheries and wildlife – from Kansas State University. She received her master’s degree in biological sciences from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan.
She worked at a state park in New Jersey and was briefly a naturalist for the State of Kansas.
She began her work with the National Park Service as a seasonal law enforcement ranger at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, where she met her husband, and received a conditional appointment as a law enforcement park ranger at Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park.
“Everybody knew Margaret. Everybody was friends with Margaret,” said Kevin Bacher, the park spokesman. “She was the most positive person, the sort of person who would drop everything at a moment’s notice – and did.”
Henry Johnsen of Scotch Plains, N.J., has lived next door to Anderson’s parents for decades and remembers her as “a quiet, reserved person. She was a sweet, loving young woman.”
Johnsen said he attended Margaret Anderson’s wedding six years ago and heard the news of her death Sunday when her parents, Paul and Dorothy Kritsch, “walked across the driveway arm in arm. It was late in the day. This was a most unusual visit. They walked toward me and I said, ‘This can’t be good.’ ”
“As a neighbor and a friend, it’s a tragedy,” Johnsen said. “Knowing her as well as I do, it’s unfathomable to know she’s gone and that her husband is left with two children. I know it will mark their parents forever, and I will feel it myself. I feel it right now.”
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635
Staff writer Stacia Glenn contributed to this report.