A Community Website by Lopez Island
News and Views
Send Message
Other News
Astronaut and Islander - San Juan County Remembers William Anders
Jun 13, 2024
By San Juan County
San Juan County extends condolences to the family and friends of Major General Anders.
SAN JUAN COUNTY, WA. June 13, 2024 - San Juan County mourns the loss of retired Major General William Anders after his plane crashed off the coast of Jones Island on Friday, June 7.

Anders made history as the Apollo 8 astronaut known for snapping the iconic “Earthrise” photo. Later in his career, Major Anders was a member of the Atomic Energy Commission, the first chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the ambassador to Norway, and held many other titles.

In addition to his national accomplishments, Anders was a valued resident of Orcas Island. Known to give talks at local events and donate to community organizations, Anders was an active member of the Orcas community.

“During their time here, Bill and Val were truly part of the fabric of our island community,” said Councilmember Cindy Wolf. “In spite of Bill’s celebrity status as an astronaut, they were genuinely down to earth.”

Wolf recalled a dinner at the Inn at Ship Bay where Bill loved everything Geddes cooked for him, “as long as it was meat-no veggies.”

“Many people here were honored by long time friendship with the Anders and I know Bill will be sorely missed. San Juan County sends deep condolences to all those affected by the loss of the local legend,” said Wolf.

Kelly Denny, a public safety diver on the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Police Dive Team was one of the many first responders on the scene.

“Later in the evening when I saw the news, recognized who he was, and what he did for our country, it all clicked.”

Like Anders, Denny also served in the US Airforce.

“When I made the connection that he was an Airforce veteran like me, it just made me feel overwhelmed that though it was a tragic accident, at least an Airforce veteran could be there to bring him home.”

The offices of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and the San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney and Coroner share in extending their condolences to the family and friends of Major General Anders.

“We’re all deeply saddened by the tragic incident,” said San Juan County Sheriff Eric Peter. “We’re proud to do our part to recover Major General Anders and return him to his family.”