Pete “Pedro” Anderson, a much-loved Idyllwild musician, storyteller and artist, died suddenly and unexpectedly from the rapid onset of massive pneumonia.
According to his sister Sue Anderson, Pete had played local gigs only days before he died. Friend Rick Barker said he was in fine voice and ebullient spirits at a recent Higher Grounds engagement. Barker said Anderson, his “best friend on the Hill,” had had flu several weeks ago but had experienced a relapse about nine days ago.
On Wednesday, Feb. 3, Barker visited Anderson who was watching a movie and told Barker he was OK. Several hours later, Anderson called Barker and said he was having difficulty breathing. Barker took him to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. “They checked him in instantly and were very professional,” said Barker.
Anderson’s condition at first improved and then on Thursday worsened. He died late Thursday morning.
“Pedro,” as he became known to his Idyllwild friends and fans, was a charming, upbeat and avuncular presence, able to move others from laughs to tears with his stories, and induce feelings of camaraderie and connectedness with his music. His Saturday-night gigs at Higher Grounds, both as a solo performer and with his band Pedro and the Pages, became “must-attend” ritual gatherings for his many friends and fans.
An Idyllwild resident once observed that, in the rest of the world, there are six degrees of separation between people, but in Idyllwild there is only one degree. Some force attracts those who are meant to live here, and when they are here, that same force pulls them closer together.
Pete “Pedro” Anderson was part of that force — a warm, gregarious and galvanizing spirit who brought people closer together and left everyone who knew him feeling better. His sister, Sue Anderson, prided herself on being “Pete’s roadie,” helping him to set up and break down his gigs. “He was the best brother anyone could ever have had,” she said. “We were best friends. I’m blown away by how incredibly loved he was by the people of this town.”
Pete is survived by his daughter Gemini, graduate of Idyllwild Arts Academy, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and current Ph.D. student at Cardiff University in Wales, the United Kingdom; former wife Betty Ginsberg Anderson of Idyllwild and La Jolla; his sister Sue Anderson of Idyllwild; and many loving cousins and devoted friends.
Pete had many careers — as singer, actor and entertainer with wife Betty, as a pen-and-ink artist, as a solo musician and singer, as a writer, and as an English literature teacher, at both high school and college levels. He was a graduate of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Texas State University in San Marcos and the University of Iowa’s famed creative writing program, the Writers’ Workshop.
A celebration of Anderson’s life is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at Higher Grounds in Idyllwild. Come early, bring chairs or cushions and join the community who loved “Pedro” in celebrating his life and spirit.