Ben Parzybok

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R.I.P. Heidi Anderson

Heidi Anderson was my best friend in college for a year or two. We met in the year-long Foundations of Natural Science class at The Evergreen State College and were lab partners in the chemistry component. Her father, it turns out, was a nobel nominated geneticist, so I think you can guess who carried the weight in the lab. She was one of the best-read people I have ever met, was an extremely competent backpacker, had a great sense of humor and will be missed.

After we graduated from college we drifted apart. When I heard that she was missing (link), I couldn’t stop thinking about her and briefly posted here about the situation and was on the verge of doing a mass emailing when, alas, the worst fears came to pass (link).

I have been struck by the tone of the news articles on her – perhaps it’s just that I’ve never had something like this happen so close to my own life, but I feel like posting a defense of her person here. It’s amazing how a general line like ‘she has a medical condition and needs medication’ can transform in the mind of the reader to something unstable or worse – Heidi had a chronic stomach ailment, no more.

Whatever the cause – accident or suicide, this is a sad end to a lovely person.

Rest in peace, Heidi.

Author: Benjamin Parzybok

My name is Ben Parzybok and I'm a novelist and programmer living in Portland, OR. @sparkwatson



  1. Thank you Ben for your kind comments about our daughter Heidi. We met many years ago at Evergreenduring one of our visits to see Heidi. We (her parents) are still trying to deal with the tragic and sensless loss of such a beautiful and loved person.

  2. Hi Barbara – good to hear from you. I was so crushed to hear about Heidi and have been thinking about her constantly. Last year I was at a bluegrass festival called Pickathon – and for a brief moment I thought I saw her but I had my hands full with a toddler and didn’t run after. I’m so sorry I didn’t now. I kept expecting to see her in Portland for years now – she and I both have slightly introverted streaks but still I expected it was a matter of time. My condolences to you and your family. Feel free to contact me off blog at ben at ideacog dot net if you like.

  3. I met with Heidi a few times when my daughter was attending Joyful Noise, a very well run day care center in Portland, Oregon. I found Heidi to be friendly, self-assured, confident and very competent. She took the time with us that we needed to gain some trust when turning over the care of our child. I somehow remember her having a different last name then. In any case, it was such a shock and grief to read of her story online; we live in Hawaii now. I am very sorry for her family and friends, and all of us who benefited from her skill, intelligence and humanity. How can one make sense of this? Mahalo and Aloha Heidi.

  4. Hello Benjamin,
    My name is Holiday and I am the woman that found Heidi’s body in Laurlehust Pond. My husband and I had been to Portland Nursery that day and I had this very strong urge that drew us to the park. We hadn’t been there in years but it was a lovely day and a walk around the pond sounded nice. Almost immediately I saw something on the edge of the island that didn’t look right. I turned to my husband and said “Oh my god, I think that might be the girl that is missing”. The island is a ways off the path and it was hard to see clearly but we had binoculars with us for bird watching. We went out to the street and flagged down and officer and told him our concerns. He followed us back to the edge of the pond and called his commanding officer. A short while later more police and lots of media started to appear. They took our names and statement and asked us not to leave. We stood at the waters edge for hours and I felt like a guardian to Heidi while the divers recovered her body. I still feel such an attatchment to her and grieve for her family and friends and I will always wonder why I was drawn to the park that day. Thank you for your blog and for an opportunity to tell a part of the story.

  5. Hi Holiday – thanks for adding your story. That sounds like a profound experience.

  6. Heidi was my best friend from our first year at college to the time of her death.. I still feel drawn to ‘google her’ even so many months later and just read this letter from the person who found her.. Holiday, I’m glad that you were there and felt yourself to be somewhat of a ‘guardian’.. I am still so grief stricken that I find it hard to function.. Heidi was the most amazing friend and person.. I miss her so much.. anyway.. just saw this letter from the person who found her.. and I wanted to respond somehow..

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