- Associated Press - Sunday, June 26, 2016

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Friends say Peter Anderson’s contributions to a better Rapid City went far beyond brick and steel monuments standing testament to his talents in giving new life to old buildings.

Anderson’s work as president and owner of MAC Contruction is evident in every corner of Rapid City and beyond. It’s seen in revivals of the old Metz Bakery Building in The Gap, the Knights of Columbus Hall on Fifth Street and the Motor Service Co. building on St. Joseph St, and in restorations of the downtown Elks Theater and Windsor Block apartments.

Now those rejuvenated buildings stand as part of Anderson’s legacy after his unexpected death last week. Anderson, 51, collapsed while mountain biking on Skyline Wilderness Trail on June 11 and died at Rapid City Regional Hospital later that day, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/28QEevz ) reported.

Those who knew him are struggling to understand the loss of a man who gave so much to his family and community and seemingly had so much left to give.

“The buildings are obvious things and are symbolic of how he was. Those buildings were cast away and he made them into something great,” said Brett Lawlor, a retired Rapid City doctor who got to know Anderson as a fellow fitness enthusiast.

“But he had a big impact in our community that a lot of people don’t appreciate, because of the behind-the-scenes things he did to bring people together and work to make the community better,” Lawlor said.

Anderson was active in Arts Rapid City, and served on the board of directors for the Rapid City Club for Boys, the Rapid City Planning Commission and the Downtown Rapid City Economic Development Corporation.

“He really, really loved music. He made sure his kids had a thorough education in music. He understood how important it was for a healthy city to have a vibrant arts community,” said Anna Huntington, who worked with Anderson on the Arts Rapid City board.

Anderson grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Chamblee, Ga., and earned an engineering degree at Georgia Tech.

After a stint in the Peace Corps, he attended Columbia University’s School of Public Affairs, where he fell in love with fellow student Maria McCarthy of Rapid City. Their 20th wedding anniversary would have been on June 29.

Anderson bought MAC Construction from his father-in-law, Steve McCarthy, in 1997, and learned the art of rejuvenating older buildings.

Anderson combined his engineering background with a healthy dose of determination and built a reputation as a contractor unafraid of a challenge.

“Pete understood the mechanics and the inner workings of these older buildings,” said longtime friend Pat Tlustos, chairman and CEO of NWE Engineering.

Anderson’s death came as his family is already reeling from Maria’s ongoing battle with cancer.

“They have four beautiful kids who are struggling with a terrible illness with their mom and now this,” Tlustos said. “I don’t know how you put all that together.”

No specific cause has been released, but the suddenness of Anderson’s death came as an additional shock because he seemed to be the picture of health, Lawlor said.

“For someone 51, he would have been in the top five percent for someone his age from a fitness standpoint. He was just an incredibly fit person, exercised five or six days a week for ever since I’ve known him,” Lawlor said.

“It’s not anything we would have predicted.”

Lawlor said Anderson was intensively competitive, yet uplifting to the people around him.

“He was the first to pat you on the back when something was done. Universally at his wake, people talked about his big smile. That was a big part of him along with his overwhelmingly positive approach to life,” Lawlor said.

Tlustos described Anderson as a “200-watt bulb in a dim room”.

“It wasn’t just the family that lost, it was the community too. He was a shaker and got some stuff done, he said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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