Perham native Abby Anderson remembered as 'big personality' on top of track achievements
Perham High School graduate and successful athlete Abigail Anderson of Minneapolis, the sister of late track star and Olympic hopeful Gabriele Grunewald, died on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 14 near the University of Minnesota’s soccer stadium, Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, when she was struck by a vehicle. She was just 29.
"The thing I'll always remember about Abby was how she wanted to make her own way," said Perham High School's Jeff Morris, who was Abigail Anderson's cross country and track coach from seventh through 12th grade.
Perham High School graduate and a successful athlete Abby Anderson died on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 14 , near the University of Minnesota’s soccer stadium, Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, when she was struck by a vehicle. She was just 29.
Anderson, of Minneapolis, is the younger sister of late track star and Olympic hopeful Gabriele Grunewald, who died in 2019 due to complications from cancer.
When Abby Anderson was attending Perham High School, her cross country team placed second and third at the Minnesota Class A state meet. She set a school record in the 1,600 meter run and was part of a state champion 4x800 meter relay team and she finished second in the 1,600 meter run at the 2008 state meet. Morris said she even placed in a top 10 spot in the state cross country meet, which he finds very impressive since there tends to be around 250 racers.
Anderson loved having the opportunity to compete at state. "It's a great reward for all the hard work and energy put into the preparation to be able to compete at state and a great opportunity to compete against the best," Anderson said in an interview with the Perham Focus in 2010 .
Morris remembers Anderson as very driven and bubbly. He said she had a big personality and wasn't afraid to be outspoken. On top of this, she was also focused and determined, both in the classroom and during practice. Morris said she was always willing to talk and share the new types of training she was constantly trying.
"It's pretty special to see someone who wanted to make a difference," Morris said. "It's pretty amazing to see that sense of purpose in someone, and she did (make a difference)."
On top of helping people daily through her job as a nurse, Anderson was heavily involved in Brave Like Gabe , a foundation created by Gabriele Grunewald and Grunewald's husband with a goal to share different stories of bravery through cancer treatment as well as raising money to find effective treatments of rare cancers.
Anderson was often inspired by her sister. "I grew up watching my sister run (at the University of Minnesota) and have always dreamed of being a Gopher girl. She has been a huge inspiration," Anderson had said in the same interview with the Perham Focus in 2010 .
Just like her sister, she attended the University of Minnesota, where she ran track and cross country. She was the 2010 NCAA runner-up in the 1500 meter.
"Abby's family is pretty special," Morris said. "They're strong people… (Her parents, Kim and Laura) are hopeful that their daughters are together now; that's the biggest hope for the family… Abby was a light, and so many people knew that."
Anderson's funeral will be held at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at the Basilica of St. Mary, 88 17th St. N., Minneapolis. There will be a visitation an hour before the service.
Arrangements are being handled by Washburn-McReavy Hillside Chapel .