Anderson, 87, died Jan. 3 of complications related to the novel coronavirus, his family said.
In the past few years, Anderson had started to suffer from dementia and had to stop volunteering in the food program. Still, it was his proudest accomplishment.
Anderson’s daughter, 36-year-old Maura Mooneyham, said she came to D.C. from her Colorado home in September to spend time with her dad. He told her that he was sad because he wanted to “go out like the blaze of glory.”
When she asked what he meant, he said he hoped he would be most remembered for his work with the homeless.
The Rev. Susan Thon, Anderson’s former pastor at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda, where he was a longtime member, said he helped feed the homeless because the work was special to him.
“He did it for love,” Thon said. “For love of God and love of people.”
Anderson, whose formal first name was Francis, was born in Bordentown, N.J., and was the youngest of four children. His father worked as a foreman at General Motors in Trenton, N.J., and his mother was a homemaker.
Anderson went on to serve nearly four years in the U.S. Navy and a year-and-a-half as a Trappist monk.
He eventually moved in the late 1950s to the Washington region, where he had jobs that included being assistant to the architect of the Capitol for a year. In the mid-1960s, Anderson became a Catholic priest and missionary and served in Tanzania.
He left the priesthood after he became disillusioned with the group with which he was working, his wife said, and he realized he wanted to get married and have a family. His first marriage ended in divorce.
After getting degrees from Georgetown and Catholic universities, Anderson spent his career as a speech and language pathologist at Gallaudet University before working in a similar role for Montgomery County Public Schools for more than 20 years. He retired in 1994. At one point, he also worked as a chaplain at the Jessup Correctional Institution.
At Church of the Redeemer, Anderson helped to maintain the gardens and was a volunteer on the vestry. He also volunteered at a crisis center in Bethesda, where he met his second wife, Ruth Simon, who was a widow.
The two started playing tennis and eventually married in 1982. They had a daughter, Mooneyham, whom Simon said Anderson called “the light of his life.” He also helped raise Simon’s two children from a previous marriage and was very close to them, his wife said.
Simon, 74, said her husband enjoyed playing and watching sports, including basketball, soccer and baseball when he was younger. He also spent decades as a runner but stopped when “his knees gave out,” Simon said.
Anderson biked until he was in his mid-80s and enjoyed listening to opera, jazz and symphony music. He liked reading religious articles, biographies and newspapers. He also taught himself to do sculpting.
“He was very smart but didn’t brag about it,” Simon said. “Whomever he talked to, he made them feel like they were the most important person.”
She continued: “He was a very self-effacing person. He was just so gentle, kind and giving.”
The Rev. David Schlafer, an assisting priest at Anderson’s church, said Anderson participated in religious talks and often would quietly listen, then make reflective comments.
“For every word Frank said, he would listen to 47,” Schlafer said.
In the past few years, Anderson started to have more trouble getting around and became frustrated with his limited mobility, his wife said.
“He knew his mind was slipping,” Simon said. “He would say, ‘I just want to go out in the garden.’ He was deteriorating and he knew it and he was fighting it. He didn’t want to be the man who couldn’t help people.”
His daughter said he was known for “noticing things that other people didn’t.” At the Street Church program, he would quietly give out sandwiches and once noticed a man who would “wear out his belts and shoes a lot,” Mooneyham said.
“My dad found shoes and belts and took them to him,” she said. “That’s what he noticed that this guy needed.”
Last fall, as Anderson’s health was failing, he moved into a facility for seniors with dementia.
In mid-December, he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his wife said. His condition worsened and his daughter came from Colorado with personal protective equipment to visit him at a hospital.
Simon said one of his caregivers later told her of how he reacted when their daughter walked into his room. According to Simon, the caregiver said, “You should have seen him when she walked in the door. He was like a whole new person. He was so delighted to see her.”
A few days after Mooneyham arrived, he died. She was by his side, holding his hand. His daughter recalled that his last words to her were, “I wish I could protect you. You are my guardian angel. I love you, Maura.”
Simon called covid-19 a “very cruel” way to lose her husband.
After his death, she reflected on a certificate her husband had been given for his work at Street Church.
“Here’s to Beloved Frank, our shining example for good,” it said. “All his life doing whatever he could to serve others gladly, to make their lives go less badly. So let’s keep trying to do for others just as he would.”