St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rutherfordton, NC

The Life Journey of Art Anderson

Arthur Conway Anderson, the youngest son of James and Isabella Anderson, was born February 22, 1925, in Lexington, Virginia, a town of about 7500 people, a town of beautiful scenery, a town with a sizable Mennonite community, a town blending old and new ways of life – buggies versus automobiles.  Art had one brother and two sisters, James, Helen, and Isabel.  Helen, Art’s older sister, is living in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.  Two aunts, Helen Webster and Ella Webster, lived with the Andersons and helped in the running of the dairy farm, which had over 100 head of cattle. There was also a family dog, a St. Bernard named St. Nicholas. Art’s father, a college professor at Virginia Military Institute, was the youngest army Lt. Col. retired from World War I.  He served with Gen. George Marshall.  Art’s mother taught in a K-12 school in Lexington and Art was her student for five years.

From the early education years, Art remembers a spelling bee in which he was “defeated for spelling rhinoceros rhinocerus because that’s how it sounded to me.”  Outside of school, Art remembers the country was getting ready for war. 

Art enjoyed his high school years, recalling especially his time playing baseball. He was the team’s leftfielder. Another memory that stands out is the time he climbed House Mountain.  The mountain was close to the family farm and he walked all across the top to see Lexington, the surrounding area, and the family farm.  During high school Art had the opportunity to travel to Europe with his two aunts.  He visited Germany, Italy, and France. The summer after high school Art helped with the farm and loaded hay.

Art is a cradle Episcopalian and although he doesn’t specifically remember experiencing strong faith during his younger years, he attributes his religious development to his parents.  He attended Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church and his mother, the Sunday School Superintendent, was his Sunday school teacher.

Education was a priority in the Anderson family.  Art graduated from Lexington High School in 1941.  He attended his father’s alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, for one year and then went on to Washington and Lee University where he received a BS degree in Commerce.  He also attended summer school one year at the University of North Carolina.  Art’s father wanted him to get additional knowledge of agriculture and encouraged him to do post-graduate work at Cornell University.  Art wisely followed his father’s advice.

At Cornell, Art was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.  It was at the fraternity house that he met Elizabeth (Betty) Jean Maw “by flirting with her”, in Art’s words.  Betty, who became Mrs. Arthur Anderson on September 17, 1955, was a native of St. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada.  “Her father was a professor at a small university in St. Anne and her mother was a teacher, a home economics major, and a wonderful cook,” to quote Art.  Her mother began her career by teaching at a one-room schoolhouse and she rode a horse to school.  Education was indeed a priority in both the Anderson and the Maw families!

Art AndersonArt and Betty Anderson’s married life continued as Art sold farm equipment for International Harvester as the zone representative for the state of Virginia.  Later he began a business with his brother, the Anderson Equipment Company in Rockbridge City, Virginia.

At this time, the Andersons were raising their family – Richard, Robert, William, and Elizabeth.  Art was active in the local Kiwanis Club, serving two terms as president.  He was also in charge of the annual giving and raised the budget at the Episcopal Church.  He began working for Reeves Brothers in Buena Vista, Virginia, and in 1966 was transferred to the plant in Rutherfordton as the Supervisor of the Rubber and Coating Division. Art, Betty, and the children settled in a house on Fernwood Drive and became members of St. Francis Episcopal Church when Rev. Ron Haines was rector.  They built their home, the home where Art still lives, on Fernwood in 1967.

When asked what he considers as several highlights of his life, Art answers, “high school, the time at Washington & Lee University, my marriage to Betty, and the birth of our children.”  When asked if there were significant influences in his spiritual life, he replies, “Betty!”   The stories of Jesus in the New Testament are also important to him. He says that his Christian friends and church have been critical in helping him since he had a stroke in 1981 and lost Betty in 1985.  Dick, Art’s youngest son, says that following his dad’s stroke, his mom mustered the will and determination for all of them to help Art recover, but following her death, his dad showed them the strength to survive and adjust as a family.  Art’s friend, Carolyn Allen, cared for him after Betty died and Carolyn’s oldest daughter, Christine Duncan, continues that care today. Art praises Mrs. Duncan, not only for the many things she does for him, but also because she shares her family members with him through frequent visits.

Art’s children – Bill, Bob, Elizabeth, and Dick – continued the family’s priority in education as graduates of Clemson (Bill, Bob, Elizabeth) and UNC at Chapel Hill (Dick).   When asked to define his father, Dick said, “honest, straightforward, and selfless.”  He also said, “Dad has never been one to espouse lessons.  I hope I have learned from his example to treat others with respect and good humor.  My mother and father never discouraged me from setting my goals high and encouraged me to develop as a writer at an early age.”  Dick says he’s happy his dad continues to enjoy a yearly sojourn to Atlanta to see his favorite team, the Braves (“usually in first place in the National League East”, Art quips), with one or more of his sons along for the ride.  Bill resides in Gaffney, S.C. and Bob in Columbia, S.C., both close enough to frequently visit Dad, to Art’s delight.  Dick lives in Los Angeles, but gets home at least twice a year. Art’s daughter, Elizabeth, died this past year. A memorial and celebration of life service was held at St. Francis.

In closing our talk about Art’s life, he wished to express how much appreciation he has for Rev. Dee Ann de Montmollin.  “She’s a wonderful person, always so giving, so very thoughtful.  She preaches wonderful sermons and St. Francis Episcopal Church is truly blessed to have her.  I also look forward to the weekly visit of Marian Beavers and the stories she reads.  I enjoy them immensely.”

Art was asked if he wanted to add anything to this account and he responded, “No, I don’t want to bore the people who will read this to death!”

Interviewer and writer – Marian Beavers

{Editor's Note:  Art Anderson went on to meet our Savior on November 15, 2006}

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