Margaret Anderson’s superiors at Mount Rainier National Park described her as an “all-around ranger.”
An Eatonville neighbor said the 34-year-old mother of two little girls and the wife of park ranger Eric Anderson lived her life devoted to her family.
Margaret Anderson died in the line of duty Sunday morning, just hours after the new year began.
Authorities said she was shot by a man who had failed to pull over during a routine traffic stop at the park. Anderson had set up a roadblock to try to intercept the driver.
“She was a wonderful person, a very pleasant person and an excellent ranger,” Park Superintendent Randy King said Sunday. “She had a great attitude and was willing to help. It’s a tragic loss.”
King said the Andersons had worked for parks in the eastern United States before moving to Mount Rainier four years ago. Margaret Anderson led rangers who patrolled the mountain’s Snow Play areas. And this year she took on a lead role working to ensure that rangers were up to date on their emergency skills. She served as liaison between the park and area first-responders.
Pierce County Fire District 23 Chief Garry Olson said Anderson was a hard worker. The fire district, based in Elbe, works frequently with the park.
“She was a professional,” Olson said.
Anderson’s Eatonville neighbor, Adam Norton, said the Anderson family moved to the neighborhood near the heart of the town a year or so ago.
He said the couple often worked different shifts at the park. Margaret Anderson and another neighbor often went walking in the mornings, he said.
“From what I could tell, her whole life was about her girls,” Norton said.
Park authorities said the oldest girl was about 4, and the youngest nearly 2.
The Seattle Times reported that Anderson was the daughter of a Lutheran minister, the Rev. Paul Kritsch and his wife, Dorothy, who live in New Jersey.
The Seattle Times spoke with Anderson’s mother-in-law, Cynthia Anderson, of Massachusetts. She said Anderson and her husband met when both worked as park rangers at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. She said they moved to the Northwest when they got the opportunity to work together at Mount Rainier.
Former park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga described Anderson as quiet and deliberate.
“She was focused on improving the park programs she was responsible for,” he said. “She was a mom first and foremost, but you’d never know that at work. (She and her husband) were able to work it out so they could be home with the kids.”
Balancing two Park Service careers, taking care of the kids and being so good at what she did was amazing, Uberuaga said.
King said Anderson’s death will be hard for park staff members and for the surrounding community to accept.
“It’s very traumatic,” he said. “It’s a close-knit group of people. This is something that impacts an entire organization.”
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a statement regarding Anderson’s death.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic, horrific and cowardly murder today at Mount Rainier National Park,” Salazar said. “The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will do everything possible to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice and to ensure the safety of park visitors and other park rangers.
“This tragedy serves as a reminder of the risks undertaken by the men and women of the National Park Service and law enforcement officers across the department every day, and we thank them for their service. My thoughts and prayers are with Margaret’s family in this difficult time.”
Staff writers Debbie Cafazzo, Stacia Glenn, Craig Hill, Kate McEntee and Jeffrey P. Mayor and The Seattle Times contributed to this report.