Martin L. Anderson, an avid outdoorsman whose strength and courage helped him endure after a fateful tragedy left his lower body paralyzed, died Oct. 14 with congestive heart failure, his family said. He was 79.
A former marathon runner, Mr. Anderson enjoyed getting back outside after retiring in 1996 as a state government lawyer. Besides backpacking, he started running again and took up inline skating. He was an enthusiastic mountaineer who had climbed Mount Shasta and Half Dome.
He worked out almost daily and went on bike rides with the Sacramento Wheelmen. In addition, he volunteered with the SPCA and traveled to many countries.
His life took a dramatic turn in January 2000 as he stopped at an open house near his Sacramento home in the Land Park neighborhood. A weakened, 80-foot-tall silver maple toppled just as he walked past, smashing him to the ground with massive injuries. He spent three weeks in an induced coma at UC Davis Medical Center.
"The first thing he said to me when he woke up was, 'We're going to be OK,' " said his wife, Kathy. "That was how he lived his life. Whatever came up, he was very calm and strong."
Mr. Anderson returned home after three months of surgeries, medical setbacks and grueling physical therapy that was chronicled in a major story in The Bee in 2000. Paralyzed from the waist down, he adapted to using a wheelchair and "made the best of every situation," his wife said.
After a stroke in 2005 paralyzed his right arm, he learned to feed himself and handle other tasks with his left arm.
"He never complained," his wife said. "He only felt badly that it was hard on me. He had always been the one who took care of me and the family and did the heavy lifting in our lives."
Born in 1933 in Long Beach, Martin Lloyd Anderson spent his early years in Hawaii, where his father served in the Navy. At 8, he was playing outside his family's home on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor when Japanese planes flew overhead on Dec. 7, 1941.
"He looked up and thought they were dropping water balloons all over the island," his wife said. "He ran inside the house and told his father, who immediately reported for duty while he and his mother went to a shelter."
Mr. Anderson served as an air traffic controller in the Air Force after high school. He graduated from San Diego State University and worked as an engineer before deciding on a career change and graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1969.
He moved to Sacramento to join the state Office of Legislative Counsel in 1970. He drafted laws and legal opinions as lead deputy counsel on transportation and also worked on education and local government issues.
Mr. Anderson returned to many outdoor activities after adapting to using a wheelchair.
He rode a hand-powered bicycle and tried kayaking and snow-skiing. He went on cruises to Europe and trips to Hawaii and Canada with his wife of 31 years. He had season tickets to local theater shows and served on the finance committee at Centennial United Methodist Church in Sacramento.
"Two days before he died, he wanted to make sure his wheelchair was powered up," his wife said. "In his mind, he was always more active than his body would let him be."