Our Laguna: Saying goodbye to a cherished friend

August 26, 2010|By Barbara Diamond
  • Georgia Andersen holds the "Spirit" Dove moments before being released in honor of Claes Anderson during reception at the Rose Garden at Hotel Laguna.
Georgia Andersen holds the "Spirit" Dove… (Coastline Pilot )

Friends, family and admirers of hotelier and humanitarian Claes Andersen packed Laguna Presbyterian Church on Saturday to celebrate his life, which ended Aug. 11.

A live feed to Hotel Laguna allowed the staff and others to remember him at the site that was his home away from home.

"There are many who would love to share their reflections on Claes, but if that happened, we'd be here all afternoon," said the Rev. Jerry Tankersley, pastor of the church, which the Andersen family attended.

The family picked six to speak, all of them eloquent. But the most poignant words came from Claes' family, none of whom were listed as speakers.

"I was most fortunate that we spent 30 years together," said his wife, Georgia.

Claes and Georgia met on a double date arranged by her father. They dated for the next 27 nights and married within a few months of meeting one another.


"The man went after what he wanted," Georgia said.

Both believers in the afterlife, Claes told his wife near the end of his life that he would meet her in the wine bar.

"We will pick up where we left off," she replied.

Leaving the pulpit, Georgia dropped a kiss on the container of Claes' ashes. The family attended a private internment after the service.

The Andersens' son, Stefan, spoke for himself and read what his sister, Katie, a student at Laguna Beach High School, had written.

"I didn't write anything down, because I couldn't think of what to write," Stefan said. "My father was my mentor and my best friend. He showed me how to live life to the fullest. I am following in his footsteps in the industry he said was the industry that made people happy."

As Stefan's boss, Claes didn't make the job easier because of their relationship. In fact, he told hotel General Manager Michelle Wheeler to hold Stefan to the highest standards.

Speaker Tom Schiff said if Claes was hard on his children it was so they would do their best.

Katie, who was born Aug. 7, 1994, in Russia and adopted by the Andersens in April of 1998, wrote her remembrances, which Stefan read for her.

"I am so lucky to be an Andersen," wrote Katie. "It is a name to live up to, and I will strive to do my best. I am so proud to call them my parents."

As for her mother, Katie wrote that throughout the ordeal of her father's battle with cancer and his death at 63 her mother had remained strong.

"I don't know how she did it," an admiring Mayor Elizabeth Pearson said of Georgia's poise and grace at the service.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles