In memoriam: Rev. Richard Andersen

In Memoriam
The Rev. Richard Andersen
January 6, 1946 – June 2, 2019

Richard Ethan Andersen was born on Epiphany, January 6, 1946, in Carroll, Iowa, son of Johannes Andersen and Beata Magnussen Andersen. He passed away at the height of his career on June 2, 2019, in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of 73.

He grew up in the Minnesota towns of Geneva, Sleepy Eye and Hutchinson, graduating from high school in the latter in 1964. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966-1970, including a year in Vietnam. He received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1975 and an MDiv from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1979. He help found and build ARC Retreat Community in Stanchfield, Minnesota; managed several large Minneapolis restaurants; built a dynamic practice at Thrivent Financial; served as an ordained ELCA pastor in Minnesota churches, and served as Director of Congregational Relations for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. 

He accepted his final call to move with his life partner to Carefree, Arizona, to serve as Executive Director of Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center in 2015.

Richard is survived by his spouse, Patrick Burns, whom he married on July 11, 2018. Also surviving him are his sisters Judith (Kay Larsen) Andersen of Edina, Minnesota, and Jo Ellen (Gary) Felix of Concord, California; his brother, Robert (Patricia) Andersen of Avon, Illinois, and his nieces and nephews.

 Celebration of Life services will be held: 

Paradise Valley, Arizona on June 21 at Ascension Lutheran Church at 3 p.m.
Clergy are invited to process: gather at 2:45, the color of the day is white.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 3 at Central Lutheran Church at 11 a.m. 

 Donations to either Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center or Lutheran Social Service are suggested.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon him.

Message from Bishop Deborah: Please remember in prayer Patrick Burns and the family and friends Pr. Richard Andersen. His life, work and witness were a blessing to many.


From Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center

In Memoriam of our Leader, Friend, and Partner in Ministry…

Friends and family of Spirit In The Desert Retreat Center,

It is with tremendous sadness we share the news that the Reverend Richard E. Andersen, Spirit In The Desert’s Executive Director, passed away on Sunday, June 2, surrounded by friends and family. Richard suffered an acute medical episode several days ago and never regained consciousness.

Richard joined Spirit in the fall of 2015 following a national search. He brought an amazing set of experiences and skills to the role including pastoral roles with three Lutheran congregations, his work with the ARC retreat community in Minnesota, management experience with several successful restaurants, and multiple roles leading development and philanthropic efforts. All these skills and experiences were packaged in an individual with boundless energy, unbridled enthusiasm, tremendous gifts for spiritual leadership, and with a passion to be a friend to all.  He was to put it simply, the embodiment of the perfect person for the role. Under his leadership, we successfully magnified the mission of Spirit in the Desert to be a holy place where people experience hospitality and renew their calling in the world. He will be sorely missed.

We are blessed with a leadership team and committed staff who are able to continue retreat operations without disruption. We are thankful for their perseverance during this trying and sad time. Richard’s service to the retreat center that so captivated and energized him over the past three years, is now a legacy of hope for Spirit’s future. 

In faithful service, 

The Board of Directors
Spirit In The Desert Retreat Center