RIP: Ed Anacker

A tribute to a local legend.

What are the odds that a 64-year-old chemistry professor would dream up the legendary Bridger Ridge Run? The pieces started to come together when I visited his home to get advice on putting on the run which already bore his name. When I asked for Ed, a woman with fire in her eyes answered, “No, Ed is out making 200 copies of my letter to our Congressmen. I’ve got to stop something horrible from happening!” Stella, Ed’s wife of 62 years, then proceeded to enlist my aid in getting the word out, making sure I understood the seriousness of what she was up to. I thought to myself, “So, this is the little housewife that bakes all those chocolate chip cookies we find at all our runs around Bozeman!”

Passing Ed on the Ridge Run, there was always the predictable “I’d like to kill the guy who started this run!” His most harrowing experience in the Bridgers? As a college student one spring, he made a bet with a friend that he could get to the top of Baldy from campus and back in under eight hours. He waded through snow up to his armpits, and figured it would be faster to come straight down instead of following the ridge down. He got all messed up in drifts and bushes, finally returning just two minutes late. The harrowing part? He lost the $5 bet.

After Stella passed, his sons helped him move into Aspen Pointe, which was hardly his style. I arrived with my standard plate of chocolate chip cookies and found him staring out at a panorama of the Bridgers. The main ornament in the room was his wedding day picture, which he immediately wanted to share with me. He started out: “Do you know who these two good looking people are?” Not wanting to stop a good story, I got all the details of how that life-changing bus ride from North Dakota steered two extraordinary people to Bozeman. That was our last real conversation, and a fitting one from a real modern-day pioneer. All of us who traverse that ridge cannot help but be infected with Ed’s self-deprecating humor and sense of adventure. Thanks Ed.