Robert D. Anderson
Robert D. Anderson
I'd stay in the garden with Him
'Tho the night around me is falling
But He bids me go, through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.
As the sun rose January 30, 2017 on a beautiful crimson streaked Kansas sky; Robert D. Anderson surrounded by love, heard our Lord’s voice calling him home. He was born on October 11, 1926 and finished his long and wonderful life with us at the age of 90 years.
He was known to many as Bob and to his family and cousins as Bobby Dean; or Mr. Anderson to his elementary school students. Robert Anderson was many things to many people but all that knew him, loved, admired, respected and valued this wonderfully kind and loving man. It was said; to know Bob was to like him. He seemed to know everyone and everyone seemed to know him. To Bob, there were no strangers. If he didn’t know you, it wouldn’t take him long to learn about you and make you feel as if you had gained a new friend. His was a kind and gentle spirit, generous and accepting of all he met regardless of status. He would always find the good in people and in any situation. He never said a harsh word about anyone and accepted all people for who they were. He was the true example of a life well lived.
Bob touched the lives of so very many young people and teachers as an elementary school principal over a nearly 40-year career. Many students were inspired by him to become teachers or school administrators themselves. He began his career in January 1951 at Garfield Elementary School in Council Grove Kansas where he taught social studies, math and science in the morning and performed principal duties in the afternoon. In September of 1953 he moved to Manhattan to become the principal of Eugene Field Elementary School. In 1970, he then transferred to Marlatt Elementary School. In 1985, he became the first principal at Amanda Arnold Elementary School and served there until his retirement at age 61 in 1988.
His career was marked by the admiration he received from his friends, students, teachers and colleagues. In 1984 he was recognized as a Kansas Master Teacher, placing him with the highest achieving administrators in the state. He exemplified effectiveness, contributed selflessly in service to his church and community, worked tirelessly to promote and advance education, encouraged the pursuit of education, was open and sympathetic to all points of view, and maintained a sincere interest in the success of each student.
His popularity and the admiration he enjoyed and his involvement in the community were rewarded in 1986 when he was selected as Manhattan Citizen of the Year.
Bob moved through the ranks of the Kansas Association of Elementary School Principals eventually becoming President of the KAESP. He was involved in local principal groups as soon as he arrived in Manhattan. He participated in state and regional principal and educational associations and education groups. As time passed, he gained a reputation as a leader among Kansas principals. He served as President of the Kansas branch of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and then as President of the South-Central Association, which included the seven states of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Mr. Anderson was highly effective at facilitating productive strategies on issues these leaders faced and worked to improve the educational experience for young children. By mid-1970, Bob earned a position on the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) National Board of Directors. During national meetings in September 1975, he attended a luncheon in the White House with President Gerald Ford. He also met with Senator Bob Dole along with the NAESP Directors and provided guidance on regional and national education issues.
In 1981 he won a national election to become President of the NAESP. Founded in 1921, NAESP, is a professional organization serving principals and other education leaders throughout the United States, Canada and overseas. As president, he supported elementary and middle-level principals as the primary catalyst for creating a lasting foundation for learning, driving school and student performance, and shaping the long-term impact of school improvement efforts. His responsibilities landed him a television interview and special featured segment on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Joan Lunden. Most of the questions centered on the emergence of women and racial minorities taking on higher level positions in schools across America. One of the primary platforms for Bob’s campaign while running for president was the need to promote minorities (particularly African-Americans) and women to higher levels of responsibility for the education of our youth.
Bob came from humble beginnings. Growing up in Osage City, KS during the depression he would recall his family having very little but working hard for what they had and feeling fortunate for what they earned. His sister and five brothers were raised in a very modest four room house with no indoor plumbing. The only luxury item in the home was a piano which Bob’s mother would play. His mother, Florence, aspired to become a concert pianist, but those plans were changed when she married a carpenter, Andrew Anderson. The family’s Christian faith and involvement in the church were strong influences on them all and became the foundation for the spiritual character Bob carried and exemplified every day of his life.
When World War II broke out, his brothers and sister all enlisted in the various branches of our armed forces and ended up scattered to the four corners of the world. Bob, the youngest in the family, had to wait. During 1944 and his Senior year in High School, he secured enlistment in the U.S. Navy at 17 and served in the Naval Medical Corps attached to the U.S. Marine Corps while stationed in the Marshall Islands.
He served as Deacon and Elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, KS and he also served in the Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church in Naples, FL.
He was involved in the Kiwanis Club of Council Grove, KS and Manhattan, KS and the Toastmasters Club in Manhattan.
His grandchildren remember him for his love, kindness and gentle way. His family felt fortunate to have time to remember happier times and to say their goodbyes. He loved to sing and carried song and rhyme in his heart always.
So, we leave him with this:
We love you high to the top of the sky, where the sun and moon go floating by.
We love you low like the world below, where parents watch their children grow.
We love you tall like the autumn call of geese that fly when the red leaves fall.
We love you bold like November cold, when the cornfields stand in frost and gold.
We love you deep like winters sleep, when we curl up warm and count our sheep.
We love you clear like the meadow deer who wait and watch when evening’s near.
We love you strong like the sparrow’s song that sang in your heart your whole life long.
-Adapted from “A Grandfather’s Lovesong”, by Reeve Lindbergh
Bob Anderson was preceded in death by his wife Rosetta Wullschleger Anderson who passed away March 1, 1973. He was then married to Ruth Miller Anderson who preceded him in death on August 13, 1985. He was also preceded in death by his parents Andrew and Florence (Swanson) Anderson, his sister Adeline Riddle, brothers Lawrence (Andy), Wally, Paul, Bernard (DoDo), Gerald (Jelly) and Kenneth Anderson.
Leaving behind a very large family, Bob Anderson is survived by his two sons: Jon R. Anderson (Rae) of Manhattan and Joel D. Anderson (Mary Beth) Manhattan and five grandchildren; Rachel Mae Anderson, Denver, CO; Lakin Rae Anderson, Austin, TX; Hayden Jon Anderson, Gunnison, CO; Haley Jeanne Anderson, Manhattan, KS; Taylor Jade Anderson, Manhattan, KS. Six stepchildren; Kathy McKee (Tom), Prairie Village, KS; Patty Clark (Steve), Wichita, KS; Margaret Meek (Marvin), Longmont, CO; Barbie Bonds, Wichita, KS; Beckie Isgrigg (Mick), Frankfort, IN; Ray Miller (Damian), Blue Springs, MO and 20 step-grandchildren; Iain McKee (Rachel), Overland Park, KS; Sarah McKee (Paul Blesz), Roeland Park, KS; Andy McKee, Prairie Village, KS; Destiny Clark, Wichita, KS; Zac Clark, Eldorado, KS; Sadie Clark, Jonesboro AR; Trace Clark, Stillwater, OK; Katie Meek, Manhattan, KS; Bryan Meek, Longmont, CO; Tyler Meek, Manhattan, KS; Jaryd Meek, Longmont, CO; Chelsie Bonds-Bogovic (Tomaz), Derby, KS; Cassie Bonds, Kearney, NE; Cambria Bonds, Wichita, KS; Dakota Isgrigg, Lafayette, IN; Chase Isgrigg, Frankfort, IN; Rielly Isgrigg, Frankfort, IN; Kayla Miller, Kansas City, MO; Dakota Staggs, Blue Springs, MO; Heather Miller, Blue Springs, MO.
Bob is also survived by his wife Joan Anderson, Naples FL (joined in marriage on January 1, 1996) and her children; Dominic Mazzone (Denise), Atlanta GA and their children Emerson and D.J.; Max Mazzone (Ida), Naples, FL and their children Anna and Luc; Christina Vohwinkle (Claus), Frankfort Germany and their children Sebastian and Nadia.
A visitation will be held Friday, February 3 at the Yorgensen – Meloan - Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.
The funeral service will take place on Saturday, February 4 at 10:00 am at the First Presbyterian Church, 801 Leavenworth St., Manhattan.
If you are so moved, please make a donation to the Robert D. Anderson Memorial Scholarship fund Kansas State University or the First Presbyterian Church Youth of Manhattan KS.
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”