Newton Kansan

On his days off duty as a police officer, Don Anderson would still stop by and visit with friends at the Newton Police Dept., often bringing along his son, Jon. And when the two visited, they wore matching shirts with zig zag designs on them.

They called them their "lightning shirts."

Often, Don showed up with food - cookies his wife, Rae Ann, baked, watermelon or her "famous" apple dumplings. Don was forever bringing food to people.

Don Anderson, a long-time contributor to the Newton community, died Monday at age 81 in his home.

"He would give you the shirt off his back whether he knew you or not," Rae Ann said.

His daughter, Lori Sidebottom, said, "He wasn't doing it for recognition. He wasn't doing it out of an ulterior motive. He did it because that's what he was all about. That's just who my dad was."

Lori said she liked having a police officer for a dad. She recalled when she was in high school and had an after school job at Presbyterian Manor. When school let out, she would pick up two 32-ounce cherry limeades from Sonic, then stop by the police station where her dad was captain and talk with him until it was time to go to work.

Don's daughter Lisa Snow, said her dad used to take her riding all over town.

"He, by example, is responsible for my love of law enforcement and government," she said. "We have had great talks on law and politics and he taught me a lot about both."

Rae Ann recalled Jon coming home from school, crying every day because some boys in his class called his father a "pig," a derogatory name for police officers. She told him to ignore the boys, but the problem persisted and Rae Ann talked to his teacher. She made the boys stay in from recess and told them John was proud of his father.

The name calling stopped. Two of Jon's classmates are now police officers, themselves, Rae Ann said.

"I always said as a kid, I wanted to be married to a policeman," Rae Ann said. "After several years, I got my wish."

When the two started dating, Don was working at the Newton Elks Club, the job he took upon returning from the Army to his hometown. They were married in 1960 and in 1968, Don hired on with the Newton Police Dept.

A picture of his swearing in, which ran in the Kansan, showed Don raising a hand that was in a cast. He had broken his little finger playing baseball.

Lori recalled the families of police officers having picnics at Athletic Park, then going swimming at the city pool.

"They were like a second family," she said.

After 20 years with the police department, Don retired. But he kept so active, Rae Ann said, "I didn't know how he ever had time to work."

He took a part-time job as a greeter with Broadway Colonial Funeral Home and served as Newton mayor and a city commissioner for six years. During the Christmas season, he played Santa Claus at the VFW and American Legion.

Don's influence lives on with Newton law enforcement. Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton called him a "great friend. He got me on the police department."

A memorial service for Don will be at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 30 at the St. Luke Evangelical Church in Newton. A book signing will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, with the family greeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.