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Johnny Anderson

R. I. P. Our Dear Friend Johnny 2-27-19 - 12-7-14

Johnny Anderson, a WWII veteran, always lived an active life. He loved music and played classical violin as a child prodigy; he taught a form of Square Dancing until 94 years young.  He retired when, as he described it, “Now, it was takes me 15 min. to run the fifty yard dash”.  His secret to longevity was his great attitude about life in general.  He was grateful for the little things, and was most happy when he made other people laugh through his vivid story-telling and animated jokes.


The day after the radio announcement that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor, Johnny borrowed the family car to drive 190 miles to Portland, Oregon to enlist.  It didn’t matter which armed forces took him, he picked the shortest line and fell in behind 4,000 other young men ready to defend their country, and Johnny did just that. He loved to tell his real-life “Hollywood” story about stowing away on The USS Wahoo submarine simply because it was headed to the war zone.


He was sent to the Commodore at the destroyer base who informed him that boarding a vessel during wartime meant Leavenworth for life!  It was followed by the question, “Son, do you want to go to war that badly? Without hesitation Johnny and a friend replied, “Yes Sir”.  After five tours aboard the USS Baya in the SW Pacific, Johnny received the Commendation Ribbon for his outstanding service as torpedo man 1st class.  Captain Jarvis offered him the position of Chief of the Boat if he would re-enlist, but Johnny had other plans.


Having grown up on a large ranch in Oakland, Oregon, Johnny’s interest in thoroughbred racing came naturally. He was inspired shortly after meeting Shirley Bennett and added a one more item on his “Bucket List” after meeting Shirley’s Secretariat descendants. Shirley introduced him to Penny Chenery, and that cemented his last “dream come true” wish to honor Penny.  As he explained, “Not to say that we can ever produce the likes of Secretariat because in my opinion there will never be another one as great as he was, but at Penny’s age and for that matter, mine too, how wonderful would it be if  we could witness a Secretariat grandson vie for the coveted Triple Crown title?  I think that’s a splendid mission for common everyday folks to be able to jump on the bandwagon to nurture the idea of growing ‘The Secretariat Family Tree’ by supporting our Breeding With a Mission program.  The goal to help “Keep the Secretariat Legacy Alive” is one huge ‘feel good’ assignment!   I’ve asked God for another ten years if that’s what it will take!”


Just as Johnny had other ideas after the war, God had other plans for Johnny.  He went home to be the Lord on Pearl Harbor Day of  2014.  Shirley believes that if Johnny could choose a day to leave this earth, Pearl Harbor Day would have been his personal choice…but just not so soon for his liking.  She feels it was befitting for her beloved WWII hero, and he’s overseeing things from a far different perspective now!  His smile, his laughter and his love for life is sorely missed by his family and friends… and by everyone who ever met him!

This therapy program is dedicated to his last “Bucket List” wish to use our horses to help heal his wounded comrades.

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