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Robert Anderson
Personal Memoirs

Robert Anderson was born in Bismarck North Dakota in 1913. He died in Ottawa in 1997. This narrative was delivered by Bob to a group at the University Club in Ottawa on April 6, 1990.

“At the University of Saskatchewan in the dirtiest of the Dirty Thirties I decided to be a lawyer. I enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan. We had wonderful teachers: Cronkite, Cory and Shepherd.

For the first time I found learning to be exciting and stimulating. But there was something else going on that I found equally exciting and stimulating. Streb and Murphy’s Electrical Supply Store in Saskatoon had put up a transmitter and gone on the air -- CFQC. Mr. Streb was the father of my friend Ralph, and we thought that it would be a good idea to do a University Hour variety show. Mr. Streb said OK and we did an hour a week. We had no experience, but then neither did Streb and Murphy. And here I was, all of a sudden, a radio producer.

As to being a lawyer, graduates were being paid in pigs, and the outlook was not exactly inspiring. And here I had been bit by the big time bug and my ambitions turned to New York and the Columbia Broadcasting System. But you have to start somewhere, and the father of another friend Stan was the controller of a firm that had a radio station in Regina - CHWC in the Kitchener Hotel. I got a job there at $10.00 a week. My friend Stan and I were able to write and perform in a variety show that we put together, collaborating on a script that mercifully no longer exists; a romantic pre-soap with a college setting and with an orchestra and a sponsor - the local Ford agency. I even sang the theme song (although I cannot sing). It was an early Bing Crosby number; “Down the Old Ox Road” - “Though you’ll never find where it is by looking on maps, with a little investigation you’ll discover perhaps, that this old tradition’s not a place but just a proposition called the Old Ox Road. “ Doing that was the frosting on the cake for me. The rest of it was hard work.

The station kept on the air all day and well into the night. Some programs came through on the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission network, of which I will have more to say in minute. Our station staff included; a charming, philandering semi-alcoholic manager, a serious producer-announcer, a Sales Manager and me -- general factotum, announcer, writer of commercials, introducer of the daily religious speaker, control operator, chooser of records. I played the records long into the night until sign off (getting bored) cutting in the mike from time to time to sing along with a chorus or whistle along with the band -- always with that dream of the Columbia Broadcasting System in New York.

Being a small staff, we had a lot of fun. During the winter we exchanged visits with a Moose Jaw station, riding there in a car with the station manager leading us in song. “Ching-a-ling-a-ling a-ling, fa-la-la-lee, sweet was the bullshit she handed to me, ching-a-ling-a-ling, fa-la-la-lee, as he played on her Spanish guitar, boom, boom ...” And so on. Our gifted station manager was able to supply verses all the way to Moose Jaw. When we got there, we were the guests of Mr. A.J. Wickens K.C., who owned the Moose Jaw station. Mr. Wickens had a fabulous record library, 20,000 records, a very considerable portion of them very funny and dirty. Mr. Wickens came to Regina to visit us on alternate weeks, always bringing a considerable quantity of Anisette. We learned a great deal about drinking from Mr. Wickens.

(Interestingly, my father, H.K. Black ((married to Rhoda, who was a sister of Bob’s wife Catherine)) also often related stories about Mr. A.J. Wickens. Wickens was quite a tennis player and when dad went to play tennis in Moose Jaw, he and the other Regina players stayed at Wickens’ house. Dad mentioned the salacious record collection and he also mentioned the fact that Wickens taught him (the hard way) NOT to drink large quantities of gin the evening before a big tennis tournament. Wickens seems like quite the character.))

The best lessons came from a wonderful priest, from a European background, who, at least partly in recognition of our putting him on the air, entertained us with wonderful foods and wonderful wines. Since the only thing that we had been able to afford at university had been the occasional beer and a ferocious drink called Branvin at eighty cents a bottle, the priest’s hospitality was a welcome change.

There is a story that I refused to admit for many years but do so quite easily now. When the network was coming through from the east, it had to be monitored constantly and if it failed (as it sometimes did), one had to fill in with recorded music until the line was there again. I was sitting at the typewriter one morning, composing something deathless, and not responsible for the control room, the station manger was supposed to be on duty, but he was below somewhere in the hotel with one of his fancy ladies. It was about nine in the morning. You develop a second sense of hearing unconsciously when you work in radio, and I suddenly stopped typing, aware that the network had gone dead. I raced into the control room and slapped on the first record that came to hand and let it waft out into the silent air. Silent indeed. It was eleven o’clock in Ottawa and it was Remembrance Day and in the middle of the two minute silence. In time, elaboration of this gaff (which I have never lived down, has it that the record was Cab Calloway singing Minnie the Moocher.

My departure from Regina was not connected with this incident. Back in Saskatoon, Streb and Murphy had split. Streb took the electric shop, Deb Murphy took CFQC and was on his way to his first million and needed my help. He offered me the title of Sales Manager, which had a nice ring to it. That’s really all it did have. I wasn’t going to share in Deb Murphy’s profits - and a radio license was definitely a license to print money back then. So I spent a year with Deb and by the end of the year Deb got his family more involved in the business and we agreed on a divorce. A neighbor was in the cattle business and he fitted me up with a nice caboose at the end of a cattle train and I had a marvelous trip across the Prairies and on to Ottawa, getting off at the Catherine Street railway yards. I could have gone on to Europe with the cattle, but I got an audition with the late, great Ernie Bushnell, who hired me as an announcer at CRCO, now CBO. That was a year before the CBC came into being.

Being in Ottawa was quite different. I spent a good deal of time between station breaks practicing, “This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.” For I was closer now. But here in Ottawa you were at the center of exciting things. You had to deal with cabinet ministers and other important people, helping them to face the microphone. Talking a language was very different from writing a language. And I had to help them to feel at ease. When Prime Minister MacKenzie King came to the station to talk to the nation, I had to take his coat, then take him to the bathroom, then bring him back and sit him down in front of the microphone and try to put him at his ease: “Now Mr. King, take a few deep breaths from your tummy and then you’ll be fine sir and once you get going everything will work out OK.” And it was, more or less.

When the CRBC became the CBC in 1936, Gladstone Murray sent me to Halifax to work with the Maritime Regional Director, J. Frank Willis fresh from the Moose River Mine disaster. The entire CBC maritime staff was Frank and myself and an operator and a secretary. In February 1990, the CBC Maritime Region staff totaled one thousand and sixty five. We had a lot of responsibility and a lot of freedom and a lot of overproof rum just off the boats. A quart bottle full delivered to our studio in the Nova Scotia Hotel cost $2.00 and the Maritimes were wonderful. We originated a lot of drama, some orchestral stuff, Frank Willis’ weekly poetry program, Atlantic Nocturne, Helen Creighton’s Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia, and a great many remotes. We went out to the Guides’ and Woodsmens’ Meet at Lake William, the Pictou Lobster Carnival, the International Tuna Tournament, interviews with captains of the Bluenose and other Lunenburg vessels.

Then, after two years I was transferred back to Ottawa as program director of CBO. Lorne Green and Allan McPhee were on the announce staff and I did some announcing -- as well as my private practicing: “this is the Columbia Broadcasting System” And we did a lot of teaching and drilling in proper speech and pronunciation. Gladstone Murray put great emphasis on this and he hired an expert, a very well educated Brit, Steve Brodie, as coach to announcers on the whole network.

Then came the Royal Tour in 1939 and I was one of the commentators. I put their majesties onto Canadian soil in Quebec, did some cities across the country and sent them off from Halifax, after ad- libbing for a grueling 55 minutes to an international hook-up from on top of the wharf and beside the Royal Yacht. They were late getting away and I can still remember the crowd starting to softly sing “Will ye no come back again.”

Gladstone Murray asked me to arrange a series of talks by John Grierson, the head of the new National Film Board. I thought that there was nothing that I could possibly do to help this great communicator, the creator of documentary film as we know it today. But he said, “You’re a producer, produce me.” SO I did. I produced the hell out of him. I ended up at the Film Board, the most exciting place in town. To have had the opportunity to have worked with Grierson was the greatest opportunity that many of us have ever known. He was a great man, and perhaps the greatest communicator of the time. Grierson was very powerful in Ottawa during the War, as Film Commissioner and head of the Wartime Information Board. For a period, I had to report to his apartment at 8:00 every morning. By nine he would have been on the phone to the Prime Minister and C.D. Howe and an assortment of officials.

When Grierson left Canada in 1945, all the little dogs who hadn’t dared to bark when he was around, ran nipping at his heels and his reputation.

I got interested in psychiatry which was quite a new thing at that time. I had a good mentor, Dr. Brock Chisholm, Major General Chisholm, head of Army Medical Services and later head of the World Health Organization. We had made a film for the Canadian army on fear, much to the horror of the many in the army. “A soldier? Afraid??”

Then I made the Mental Mechanisms Series, sometimes called the first psychiatric films. The first of these “The Feeling Of Rejection”, was shown at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New York City to five or six thousand psychiatrists. There was absolute bedlam in the meeting after the film was shown. They were shouting that no one should be shown this film unless at least one highly qualified psychiatrist was present to deal with the anxiety that it would provoke. Well, within six months it was playing in a theater on Broadway. Psychiatry was new and seemed to offer promises that I am not sure that it has delivered on. Communities wanted mental health clinics and they used these films to coalesce interest. I was asked to go to New York and head a new thing called the Mental Health Film Board. A smart woman from Washington had persuaded the states to pool their unused federal grants and put the money up for films like the Canadian ones. I went on leave from the NFB. All the documentary film makers gathered in Washington and I spoke to them. They came back in to the office and said that here, finally was a chance that they had waited for because there was no U.S. agency like the NFB. I asked them “Can I see what you have made?” Almost all of them, in bringing their films in to me said “You have to remember, it’s what the sponsor wanted.” Well, that was an admission of consequence. Unless the film maker is responsible enough to control the content of the film, it is probably not a good film. But I chose a couple of the producers and then the trouble began. The woman with the smarts and the Washington influence chucked her husband for a producer who wanted to control the entire operation and between them they controlled Washington and my Psychiatric Board. They were informed that the film makers that I had chosen were communists (they weren’t) and I was -- I don’t know what -- it was just that period of time in the States - the height of McCarthyism. So I left. It was not a good experience. I came back to the NFB and within the next year I had started eight films. The New York people hadn’t begun one.

It was Snake Pit time as far as mental institutions went and it was decided that we should make a film on a mental hospital, to be called ‘Breakdown’. The late Dr. Chick Stodgill, Head of Mental Health for Health and Welfare Canada, took me to Toronto to talk to his old friend Dr. Bob. Montgomery, head of Ontario hospitals. He told Montgomery “Bob, this man (me) is going to make a film on a mental hospital and he has to get inside one to see what they are all about. Where shall we take him?” “Nowhere,” was the reply. “Neither he, nor anyone else can get in the door of any of our mental hospitals.” Remember that these were Snake Pit times and the psychiatrists were pariahs and they felt like it. They ruled in their hospitals and they were afraid to open them up. So we went to Montreal, to Verdun Protestant Hospital. And I spent a couple of weeks there. Living on the grounds and spending about 20 hours a day in the hospital with about 3000 patients. It was hell. I insisted on being part of every shift. At the end of the first week I went home for the weekend to Ottawa and I felt like having my own personal breakdown, the impact had been so incredibly upsetting. And then I went back for another few weeks of the same treatment. I then wrote the script and went out to British Columbia to make the film at the Crease Clinic at Essondale. I had a crew of nine. The cameraman was Osmond Borrodaile who had filmed ‘Elephant Boy’ and ‘Scott of the Antarctic’. He had retired and bought a dairy farm in Chilliwack. As to actors, I prefer to work with real people. If they have had the kind of life experience you are after, you can get them, not to act, but to react and there is then the possibility of getting some very convincing performances. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it is dynamite. As the girl who had the breakdown, I cast a charge nurse on one of the disturbed wards. I felt that she had had enough experience. The in-hospital characters in the script I cast from the patients themselves. For the scenes at the girl’s home in Chilliwack, I cast local people, including the patient’s young brother, a 16 or 17 year old boy who turned out to be Allan Fotheringham. When I went to speak to him at the National Press Club a few years ago, I reminded him of his role I the film. He simply turned and walked away. Not a word. I’m told that this is a strength of his -- to disregard that which is not relevant to the moment. Strange, I felt.

Working on “Breakdown” we turned the whole hospital upside down. We treated the patients just as we did the doctors. From a military-like lock-up, it slowly became more of a human place. To the amazement of the Health and Welfare Department, the patients that we cast as characters began to get better. And when the film was finished the se ex-patients and the doctors (and Alan Fotheringham) toured the province on stage with the film. And later the Department canceled its plans to build another mental hospital.

The horror of a disturbed ward is real. I remember a lady of considerable years - an aristocratic lady. I would have cast her as at least a duchess, sitting rocking violently I the door of her room swearing like a trooper. Since, then, I have often wished that I had filmed her and counterpointed it with a favourite poem of mine:

“Like a white candle in a holy place, so is the beauty of an aged face, Like the spent radiance of winter sun, so is a woman with her travail done; her brood gone from her and her thoughts as still as the water under a ruined mill.”

Rock, rock, rock. That should rock someone.

In the late forties I had made a film called ‘Drug Addict’, working with Health and Welfare and the RCMP. I did research with the RCMP drug squad in Vancouver, observing them kicking in doors, arresting dealers and on one occasion, burning a poppy field. I then went down to New York with the US Bureau of Narcotics Drug Squad, working Harlem and Chinese temples and ships from the east. Then I shot the rest of the film in Montreal using the Montreal street addict population as the actors. This was the rough, unsophisticated set, full of heroin users. They reminisced about the good old days when a match box full of cocaine could be had for fifty cents. “It’s like ice cream,” one said in the film. “Nice to have, but you can do without it.” The New York Times magazine had a great spread on the film. The United Nations Narcotics Commission praised it highly.

The head of the US Bureau of Narcotics, a man named Anslinger, was out of the country and when he came back and saw the film he went through the roof. The head of the UN agency was recalled to Britain and Anslinger threatened an open border on drugs if Canada let the film be distributed in the States. My authority here is the late Colonel Nicholson, Commissioner of the RCMP, who was on my Board.

The NFB changed considerably after Grierson left in 1945 and after Ross McLean who had succeeded him for a short while. Arthur Irwin came in and most of us were sure that it was just to get rid of the NFB, just as had been done in Britain with the Crown Film Unit, where Grierson had sent me, just before its demise, as the first Commonwealth Exchange Director. What Irwin did was to arrange to get the NFB out of Ottawa’s hair and move it to Montreal. But the Board belonged in Ottawa and many of us objected. But that did no good and the new film commissioner, Dr. Albert Trueman, said that he could do nothing about it, that it had gone too far. So I decided to leave. I was a smoker and I hated it and I made a private pact with myself: if I could get my smoking under the control, I could do anything. After I knew that I had truly quit smoking, I was in the NFB library one day and the film commissioner came in to look something up. I sat down at a typewriter and wrote a three line resignation, misspelling one word, and put it in front of him and walked out.

No paycheck after twenty years is no fun, but life goes on. I incorporated myself, which turned me from ‘Me’ to ‘We’. Still believing in psychiatry, I outlined a series. It took two years to find sponsorship, but the end result was twelve films -- “The Disordered Mind” series. Then one day I had a call from Geigy Pharmaceuticals in Montreal saying that the headquarters people were coming from Basel and could I come down and talk. It turned out that they had gone to the other embassies in Basel and asked to see what various film makers had done in various countries and psychiatric films. They decided to come to us - a one-man operation on the edge of the Gatineau Hills. For them we made “the Faces Of Depression” in English, French, German and Russian. Then “Emotional Factors In General Practice”. And there were no commercials in either of them. Then Smith Kline and French of Philadelphia asked us to meet them in Seattle and that resulted in the nursing training film “Mrs. Reynolds Needs A Nurse”, now in the libraries of some fifteen hundred nursing schools.

Another drug firm called us. They wanted a film on laboratory work on rats, with a new drug that was planned to reduce sleep problems. Particularly old people use drugs to sleep and sometimes get confused and fall and break their hips. I said that we didn’t do films that pushed drugs, but why not do a film that would very much benefit the medical profession - a film on sleep and sleep disorders. Their people could show it, then talk about the drug. They liked the idea and promised to let us know in a month. But before that the letters had gone out recalling the drug. The drug was Thalidiomide. I often wonder how it would felt to have made that film with those rats.

For a couple of years. I was a consultant to the United States Education Television Network - the precursor of PBS. I did projects for them in the United States and in France. One had to do with science - an unknown land to me. In San Francisco I saw ten short films that a physicist had made in his laboratories. Enormously exciting. I came back to Canada and went to see Dr. Steacie, head of the National Research Council and I said, “Why are you people hiding all this?” He agreed. I was for some years, a consultant at the NRC, reporting to the President. We started the National Science Film Library, and generated a great deal of coverage in radio and TV for the work at the NRC. The basic need was to create understanding and support for pure science research. It did for a while I think. I don’t know about now.

Before EXPO ‘67, my company was commissioned to do a national survey of film plans for the Centennial Year. I worked closely with the Secretary of State, Judy LaMarsh. Of course, part of our information had to come from the NFB and the CBC. Al Ouimet, President of the CBC set up a group to deal with us. I asked the group what films they had planned for EXPO and how many films had they made in the past year. ??Films?? We don’t make films. That’s the Film Board,” was their response. Come on boys ...”well, we use film sometimes but we don’t make films ...”

This kind of thing went on for quite a bit. I said that we needed the figures by tomorrow and that if we didn’t get them, we’d go back to Al, and if he didn’t give them to us, we’d go to the Minister ... and if she didn’t, we’d have it raised in Parliament. Well, of course we eventually got them. In 1966 the CBC had made 486 films, the NFB had made 132.

When I went to the Film Commissioner, I got a very frosty reception and no information. “These are MY films,” he said, “My films.” I left his office for a luncheon appointment with the Minister, Judy LaMarsh, and she and an MP from BC and I had a nice liquid pre-lunch gossip. Then she and I went up to the Parliamentary Restaurant and had a long, very pleasant lunch. She looked at her watch and said “There’s someone that’s waiting for me down in my office, but it’s nice here.” Finally we went down to her office and who was waiting but the self same Film Commissioner who had given me such a hard time a few hours before. He was so taken aback that he shook hands with me three times.

Because I was working closely with the Minister, there were the usual rumours. At a crowded cocktail party at Peter Newman’s, Bernard Ostry shouted to me over the heads of cabinet ministers and other drinkers, “I hear that they are giving you the National Film Board. Well, they weren’t. I wouldn’t have made a good Film Commissioner. I simply advised Judy who shouldn’t have the job. She said, “What’ll I do with the CBC?” I said, give it to Patrick Watson.” She said “Mike (Mr. Pearson) wouldn’t hear of it. If Patrick had wanted that job, he should have gotten off that program about six months ago.” That program was the famous and infamous “This Hour Has Seven Days” Well, Patrick got the CBC job, and I’m glad that he did.

Back then Pat as a producer commissioned a film I made called “Smoking and Lung Cancer”. The first working title was “The Left Lung of Edward R. Murrow”. Murrow knew that he was dying because of smoking, and was campaigning against what was killing him, but finally, he refused us. Instead, we followed a real patient through the whole process at the Royal Edward Chest Hospital in Montreal up to and including removal of his lung and coming back to consciousness in the Recovery Room -- a very powerful film. Guaranteed to stop you from smoking for at least half a day.

I never entirely gave up on “This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.” I was fairly often in New York, Once I stayed in a beautiful seaside house in Connecticut, with a New York producer who had become a friend. The place had everything including an ocean-going sailboat anchored off the front lawn. In the morning when we were getting ready to drive back in to New York, I put down beside the car the beautiful and expensive brief case that I had bought the day before from a shop in the CBS Building on Madison Avenue. I watched as his big Airedale went up and gave the briefcase a sniff, then watched as the dog raised his leg. SO much for glory.

The last “Columbia Broadcasting System” episode was a little better.

I had appeared in an NFB film called “Survival In the Bush.” An Indian guide, with only a hatchet and I were put overboard into the flooded woods in de la Verendrye Park and left to live off the land and find a way out -- if we could. It was a very entertaining film and somehow CBS in New York got hold of it and scheduled it on their program Omnibus. The top public affairs show of CBS and they asked me to come down and present it. Well, I did. There I was. Finally. “This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.” It certainly was. Big stuff. It went well and the next morning, Robert Caudek, the producer, offered me the job of producing all their documentary inserts and sharing hosting duties with Alistair Cooke. Well, there I was. This was the top of the heap. And finally, I said ‘no’. I suppose I was scared and as well, I had lots of plans for my film company.

We made the twelve film series called “The Disordered Mind.” These were psychiatric case studies of real people with real problems working with real doctors. It was made for television, but it was strong enough and meaningful enough to be used in the training of nurses and doctors and related disciplines. We sold prints through distributors in many countries. Very useful, since we also owned the rights.

In 1976, I got steered away from my regular ways. The Government wanted to put Parliament on the air and I was asked by Tom Van Dusen, who I believe is the most important man on the hill since every member of his not inconsiderable family occupies some important post, if I would be interested in helping put the members in a proper frame of mind to pass a motion that the government had on its books through three speeches from the Throne. I was called ‘Special Advisor to the President of the Privy Council on Broadcasting Parliament”, and it was a pleasure to work with the Honourable Mitchell Sharp. Mine was a conjob, of course, to con-vince the members. I had offices in the Center Block, which was no small thing to me. And we made a film and dealt with each of the Parties and the Cabinet. Where I had thought that three months would do it, a full year was needed. My job ended with the writing of the Cabinet Document, leading to the passage in the House of the Motion to Broadcast. Trouble was, I couldn’t let it go at that. After a period of broadcasting the house, I thought that they weren’t doing a very good job. And to make it better I enlisted Mr. Sharp, who was no longer a Member, and Davidson Dunton. We unofficially styled ourselves as the Parliamentary Broadcast Advisory Group. We met with the Speaker and we made a presentation to the McGrath Committee on the reform of the House Of Commons, who recommended our plans to the government. We seemed to be getting on well with the speaker, but, essentially nothing happened. Then Davey Dunton died. Hamilton Southam joined us, but there seemed to something going on outside our ken and we have reluctantly given it up. And House coverage still has not improved. We tried, but we failed.

Ottawa Citizen June 6, 1997 Film maker’s specialty was medical documentaries.

By Ken Gray The Ottawa Citizen

Broadcaster Patrick Watson remembers his friend and colleague Robert Anderson, not only as a consummate professional film maker, but as a sensitive man who helped him through a crisis.

“Robert had such a winning and sympathetic way with him and in fact at a time when my life was in a personal mess, I sought him out in the way one would a personal counselor. He had that extraordinary knack of listening and occasionally interjecting a wise and sympathetic question,” said Mr. Watson, the former chairman of the CBC.

Mr. Anderson, a noted broadcaster and documentary producer, died at his Ottawa home Tuesday at age 84 after a long period of declining health. Injuries from a recent fall contributed to his death.

Mr. Watson met Mr. Anderson while working on the CBC television program CLOSEUP in the late 1950s.

“We became quite close, Robert and I. We did a lot of projects together over the years,” he said. “I was constantly turning to him for ideas.”

“There was no question he was a very fine documentary maker and a very sensitive producer and director. But he also made an important contribution in a business sense as an independent producer.”

Mr. Anderson’s specialty was medical films and he achieved such a reputation for quality work that he was allowed to show the faces of people with mental disorders - quite a shocking development for the time. “He was able to do films that were strong, spoke to the medical community and to consumers of medical services,” Mr. Watson said.

“I think Robert will live in the minds of his friends for the personal qualities of generosity and insight. He will be remembered for his groundbreaking films in the field of emotional disorders and the relationship between physical medicine and emotional life.

Mr. Watson said Mr. Anderson was a man who lived richly and fully.

“I can’t hear his name without seeing his slightly twisted smile and a twinkle,” he said.

Born in Bismarck, North Dakota in 1913, Mr. Anderson’s family moved to Winnipeg when he was 14, although the family subsequently moved to Saskatoon. He studied at the University of Saskatchewan and became one of the first employees of the CBC in 1935. In 1942 he moved to the National Film Board, and later formed his own film making company, Robert Anderson Associates, in 1955. It was during this period that he made many of his award-winning films. For many years he was a consultant for the National research Council and played a large role in bringing television to the House of Commons.

Mr. Anderson was one of the founders of the ill-fated C-Channel, a precursor of all-arts television programming. He was active in the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, Greenpeace and Amnesty International.Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife Catherine, and was father of Verity and Christopher. He had four grandchildren. A private remembrance ceremony was held by family and friends Wednesday.