Local hero: 90-year-old Bothell man keeps Norway Hill clean

Bothell resident Jim Anderson, 90, take it upon himself to clean Norway Hill. - Contributed/Marie Portis
Bothell resident Jim Anderson, 90, take it upon himself to clean Norway Hill.
— image credit: Contributed/Marie Portis

Many people take this time of the year to give back to their community or help a neighbor. Bothell resident Jim Anderson does it all year long.

“If you live anywhere between Northeast 145th Street and (the top of) Norway Hill you have surely seen him,” neighbor Marie Portis said. “Jim is the man in the yellow-striped orange vest who walks that stretch of hill several times a week, collecting trash that others toss out. He takes it home, sorts it and recycles what he can.”

Anderson has become a local hero to many on Norway Hill, generating letters to the editor at the Bothell Reporter and interest from neighbors in having a sign posted on the hill to recognize his work. But Anderson said that he does it because he takes pride in his surroundings.

“I do it just because it needs to be done,” said Anderson, who celebrated his 90th birthday in September. “I take pride in my neighborhood.”

Anderson said that he picks up trash, cuts back blackberry bushes during the spring and summer and rakes up leaves during the fall.

“Right now it is pine cones and branches,” said Anderson. “People are out here with their baby carriages and walking. It makes it tough to walk out here.”

Anderson walks down the hill every other day from his home at Northeast 155th Street to the main road and down to Northeast 143th Street … and back up the steep hill.

“On the opposite day I do yoga and stretching,” he said. “It is good exercise. It keeps up my health.”

His cleaning also includes retrieving things that people have lost.

“I have picked up $5 bills, purses, suitcases, carrying cases, all sorts of things,” said Anderson. “I found a carrying case that belonged to a counselor.”

The case contained some important and private documents. But Anderson did as he always does no matter if he finds money or private property, he sought out the owner and returned the item.

“I think most of the time they put the item on the roof of their car, forget it is there, and then speed off,” said Anderson.

Anderson is out taking care of the stretch of road rain or shine and he said that he has been doing it since 1999.

“Jim is a remarkable and humble man,” said Portis.

Anderson was born in Iowa and grew up on a farm in a family of seven. That is where he learned to share responsibility, according to friends.

“He attributes his strong values of community service and cooperation to those early experiences,” said Portis. “He attributes his basic philosophy of life to the following adages he learned from his mother.”

He includes in those philosophies: Sweep your own doorstep before condemning or talking about others; practice what you preach; don’t do anything while away that you can’t come home and talk about; judge another by his actions, not by what others say about him; give the other fellow the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise; and never expect something for nothing.

Anderson served in the U.S. Air Force from 1943-1971.

“He can still fit into his uniform,” said Portis.

He moved to Norway Hill in 1996.

Anderson has survived two wives, both were taken from him by illness. He has been married to his wife Missy for 11 years, whom he met while swing dancing.

“We have had a wonderful time preparing for this event and have learned a lot,” said Missy about Jim’s 90th birthday party in September that was celebrated not only by family and friends but his neighbors as well. “Now we know exactly what to do when we host the celebration for 100. Mark your calendars so you won’t miss it!”

Anderson said that he has had many people stop to thank him for picking up the trash, but cleaning up the hill is part of why he has lived so long.

“Exercise, eat good and meet your neighbors,” said Anderson.


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