Rev Andersen ‘a beacon of faith, hope, love’
Reverend Thomas Andersen has been remembered as a leading light in Bermuda's religious community after passing away at the age of 71.
The Michigan native served as pastor of the Peace Lutheran Church in Paget for 28 years, after moving to Bermuda in the early 1980s.
In 1983, he married Bermuda High School head of primary Lorna Ralston, becoming a “second father” to her daughters Lynn Furtado and Judy Gonsalves.
He would later become a grandfather to Gary, Alex, Jason and Bryce, and great-grandfather to Lizzie — all of whom knew him as “PomPom”.
“Tom's life was one of service — to his family, his friends, his congregation and the community at large — and he made a huge impact on so many people,” said Mrs Gonsalves.
“He was a man of immense character and integrity, and gave himself wholly to everyone he met.”
Mrs Furtado added: “Tom was a diamond, with many facets that were not always visible to everyone at the same time.”
A keen tennis player, Reverend Andersen also performed with the church choir and enjoyed reading and board games.
After 28 years at Peace Lutheran Church, he retired in 2009 and headed with Lorna to her Scottish homeland, settling in Aberdeen.
He passed away on May 18 after a four-year battle with cancer.
Ann Spencer-Arscott, director of the Bermuda Red Cross, remembered Reverend Andersen as a warm-hearted man with a great sense of humour, who often stopped by the organisation's Golden Hour seniors club.
“He was passionate about everything he did, and he was compassionate as well,” she said.
Claudette Fleming, executive director of seniors advocacy group Age Concern, said that Reverend Andersen had served as a dedicated director and chairperson of the seniors advocacy group. “He made many wonderful contributions to the social fabric of Bermuda,” she added. “He and I would have endless conversations about how we could work to make the world a better place.”
Karsten Decker, the current pastor of the Peace Lutheran Church, called his predecessor “a beacon of faith, hope and love”.
“He reached many lives through his preaching, teaching and counselling,” he added. “We will keep Lorna and the family in our prayers.”