Dr. Anna Rhonda Dwyer (née Harper), of Vancouver, WA died in her home, surrounded by her family on February 5, 2015. She was 85 years old.
Anna is survived by her children, Chris Dwyer of Anoka, MN and Holly Granger of Seattle, WA; her five grandchildren; and her eight great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her husband, Harold Dwyer of San Francisco, CA; her son, Joel Dwyer of Vancouver, WA; her granddaughter, Melissa Granger of Seattle, WA; her parents, Casey and Greta Harper of Portland, OR; and her sister, Holly Harper of Portland, OR.
Anna was born on January 14, 1930 in Portland, OR to Casey and Greta Harper along with her twin sister, Holly. The two girls were inseparable from an early age. Both attended the University of Portland, graduating with a degree in pre-med in 1953. When Holly died in a car accident, Anna looked for a fresh start in San Diego, WA, where she earned her doctorate in optometry at University of San Diego in 1960. She married her fellow student, Dr. Allen Vanderzanden, in 1961, and the pair moved to Vancouver, WA, where they opened a private optometry practice. Over six years, the couple welcomed three children into their home and Anna set about teaching them the compassion, hard work, and skill that would forge their eventual careers in medicine. Her surviving children remember her as a driven, brilliant woman and a patient mother who encouraged them to pursue their goals.
In addition to her illustrious career, Anna was accomplished at singing and often performed in plays at the local community theater. She was a hard-working individual who loved the performing arts and who was passionate about exploring and receiving a well-rounded education. She was an active and dedicated member of St. Mary's Catholic Church, where she often volunteered at the soup kitchen.
Anna passed away peacefully in her home after a short illness. She will be remembered as an excellent optometrist, an engaging performer, and a leading figure in the community.
A funeral is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church, with a reception to follow at St. Francis' Cemetery. Father Hannigan will officiate the ceremony. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Anna's life. Flowers and condolences can be sent to 123 Main St. Vancouver, WA 98662.
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