Dennis Lester Anderson

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On Wednesday March 20th 2019, at the age of 69, Dennis Lester Anderson, the loving husband of Barbara Anderson passed away from complications of severe sleep apnea.

Dennis was born August 16th 1949 in Edmonton to Lester and Amy (Caron) Anderson. He married Barbara Lupasko on August 21st 1971. He is survived by his wife Barbara, sisters Colleen Anderson and Randi Lee Ryder, brother Brent Anderson (Mary Jane Tallon), nephew Kris (Michele), great nephew and great niece Alex and Ashley. He is also survived by his beloved feline companions, Pi and Flair.

As the eldest of four children, Dennis took on the role of mentor and supporter of his younger siblings. He encouraged people around him to succeed in whatever they focussed on. He was a solid and invaluable friend to those who knew him. Dennis was an avid learner and always spent his spare time reading and learning. He read widely from classics to modern speculative fiction. He also had a passion for travel and visited parts of every continent except Antarctica. But most of his knowledge and understanding of the world came from the deep and strong relationships he built with people. Dennis always made a point to learn something from every person he met. Knowing what people thought and what they valued was important to him.

Dennis spent his life finding ways to make the world a better place for others by serving the public good. When he attended Rochdale College in Toronto, Dennis started the Rochdale Drug Crisis Centre. He studied at Mount Royal College in Calgary in Communications Media, then worked for CKUA radio where he hosted shows on current events.

After first running for public school trustee, he found his way into provincial politics. He served as an MLA in the governments of Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein. Through his fourteen-year career in politics he was minister of several portfolios: Municipal Affairs and Housing; Consumer and Corporate Affairs; and last as Minister of Culture and Multiculturalism and Women’s Issues. He also served as deputy house leader and was the primary lead for the Alberta legislative committees on Canada’s constitution and Senate reform. As a cabinet minister, he championed causes such as plain language legislation, and Vision 2020, a program assisting municipalities in preparing for future changes.

After his retirement from political life in 1993, Dennis worked tirelessly to advance the cause of mental health. He was a long-time member of the Canadian Mental Health Association, serving as president and on the national executive. He was given a lifetime membership in the CMHA and awarded the President’s Cup for his service to the promotion of mental health. He was also granted the Medal of Honour from the Alberta Medical Association for his work.

 

Dennis believed passionately that pets and animals not only added value to our lives, but they could also help to improve therapy outcomes in mental health. In order to prove and promote this, he created the Chimo Project for which he received the Hero’s Award with his pioneering. This project helps therapists improve their practice through pet-assisted therapy for clients. The Chimo project was one of his greatest legacies.

In his desire to improve the world, Dennis travelled overseas with the US National Democratic Institute as an expert on local government and political parties to assist in developing democratic structures in Russia. Then he travelled to Peru to support the Defensoria del Pueblo on human rights, and twice to the Ukraine to observe and report on elections with the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe. Later he travelled to India at the request of the Chellamuthu Trust to advise on community mental health. As Commissioner of the Edmonton Police Commission from 2006-2012, and chair of all Alberta Police Commissions, he initiated mental health training for police.

As the founding chair of the Alberta Alliance on Mental Health and Mental Illness, Dennis worked to bring non-governmental organizations together to work with government. He was also a founding chair of the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health, which focused attention on issues of mental health. While serving on the Edmonton Police Commission he also served as Chairperson of the Alberta Association for Police Governance, with his focus being to help police be better prepared to deal with people with mental health issues. The Canadian Mental Health Association awarded him the C.M. Hincks Award for his long volunteer service to the cause of mental health. In 2017 the University of Alberta awarded Dennis an Honorary Doctorate of Laws for his advocacy of mental health.

Since 2000, Dennis had served as honorary Consul, and Consul General for Thailand, responsible for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Dennis was granted many honours and awards for his public service, including Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant, and Companion of the Order of the Crown of Thailand for his commitment to serving as Honorary Consul General.

He was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Caring Canadian Award, and the Canadian125th Anniversary Commemorative Medal. While Dennis was honoured by many for his service it was not recognition he sought but a better world and a better life for those living with mental illness. Dennis had a love for animals and personally understood how they support our humanity. He always had pets and credits his dog, Sally, with saving his life when he was suffering from depression as a youth. It was the unreserved and unquestioning love he saw in companion animals that drove him to show this to the world. Dennis believed strongly that there was good in all people and he worked to bring that out, and always hoped he was changing the world for the better.

Dennis will be greatly missed by family, friends and the communities he served.

Please make any donations in lieu of flowers to the Chimo Animal Assisted Wellness and Learning Society (CAAWLS.org), the Alberta SPCA,  Edmonton Humane Society or CMHA Edmonton (Canadian Mental Health Association Edmonton), 300 10010 – 105 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 1C4 or any Children’s charity that focuses on mental health.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Dennis at the Oasis Centre, 10930 177th Street, Edmonton starting at 1:00 pm on Friday April 12th 2019.

Location information

Previous events

Celebration of Life
Oasis Centre

10930 - 177 Street, Edmonton, Alberta

Get driving directions

Tribute wall - a place to share your memories and condolences

Rev. Dr. William Wade Izzard, Ph. D. & Rev Rory J Koopmans, B. Admin.

We knew Dennis thru various campaigns as volunteers and did brochure drops & phone bank work for him. A truly great man. Farewell D!

Rev. Dr. William Wade Izzard, Ph. D. & Rev Rory J Koopmans, B. Admin.

We knew Dennis very well having delivered brochures & done phone bank work for him in various campaigns as volunteers. What a kind, great, & compassionate man. So sorry for dear Barb & the rest of the family! 69 is way too young! Bless u D!

Jim Horsman

Dennis was a valued colleague in caucus and cabinet. He was always prepared, thoughtful and considerate of the views of others. He will be missed by a host of those whose lives he touched. My thoughts are with Barbara.

James DeFelice

Dennis was a great man and a good friend.
He contributed so much to this Province and Country.
I had many memorable times with Dennis. He had such
a warm and welcoming personality. He was
compassionate and caring. Condolences, love, and
prayers to Barbara.

Les Hiebert

I have many fond memories of my cousin Dennis, in fact one of my earliest memories is of a sleep over at my Aunt’s new house in South Calgary. I planted many a sign and asked many a question at forums when he tried to become a CBE Trustee; alas it wasn’t to be. I think he made up for that loss and then some. Dennis was almost mythic to me and I always had a glow of pride when I told others he was my cousin; I know I will continue to do so in the future.

Denise Woollard

Barb and family, I am so sorry for your loss. I had only known Dennis a few years but was very appreciative of his warmth for all who knew him and his dedication to improving mental health for all. I was privileged to have been at the U. of A. convocation when Dennis was awarded his Honorary Degree in June 2017. It was such a fitting tribute for all Dennis’ work in the field of mental health.
Denise Woollard

Lene Jorgensen

Dear Barb,

We are very sorry for your loss. It has been a privilege to know Dennis. Please accept our sincere condolences.

Ole and Lene Jorgensen

Richard and Marjie Drewry

Dennis was a true leader. A true community spirit. A fine humanitarian. A person who lived by his principles, which he never abandoned. And most of all, a true friend. We will miss you greatly Dennis. Barb, our thoughts are with you. Richard and Margie Drewry

Shami Sandhu

To Barbara and to all that have been touched by Dennis. I met Dennis on the Edmonton Police Commission. Right away you noticed his passion for helping the vulnerable and those with mental health challenges. He was a humble man and over the course of our friendship, I learned about his life story and the work that he has done – his life’s journey. Through his work as a politician, board member and as a member of our community, he will be forever remembered for the countless lives that he has touched. Many of whom will never know him.
Thank-you for your gift Dennis.

Ms. Chris Skaggs

Barb, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Dennis. It was truly a pleasure working with him during his tenure with the Edmonton Police Commission. He will sorely be missed by those who knew and worked with him. My sincere condolences.

Holly Hamilton

I’m so sorry for your loss, Barb. I knew that Dennis had many good attributes but now see how much he gave to the world. Quite amazing. He was a humble and caring man.

Holly

Stockwell Day

If Dennis was your friend(and he was a true friend to so many) you knew you had a friend for life.That also meant that ALberta itself had a friend forever.
So much wisdom and grace contained in that beautiful heart and mind. Thoughts and hugs to Barb. Love from Stock and Val.

Leo Maxwell

I have treasured my friendship with Dennis and Barb

We have a friendship that spans 50 plus years

Heaven gained an organizer who is a huge fan of the Blues

He will be missed by so many

Ruben Nelson

Barbara and all who loved him, you have my prayers and heartfelt condolences Dennis was a rare gem. In a world of self-promotion, he lived to serve others… and he did it well. My life is better because of our friendship.

Robert Vanderhorst

Saying goodbye to my dear friend of 45 years, Dennis Anderson.
He was one of the most generous, kind and giving individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure and good fortune to know.
As a career politician, Dennis was dedicated to public service and the consummate diplomat. From numerous Cabinet positions to a Directorship in Canadian Mental Health to Honorary Consul General to Thailand, Dennis never stopped giving of himself and helping whomever he could. The people he knew and met and the stories he could tell were captivating and his insight was enlightening to say the least. Individuals such as Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chretien, Jimmy Carter, Joe Clark, Bill Clinton, Stephen Harper, Vladimir Putin, the Princess of Thailand to name a few made our dinner and frequent phone conversations some of the most memorable I can remember.
I’m going to miss you my friend. R.I.P.

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