Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson, 85, always had a passion for singing

CLEARWATER — The contents of his condominium said much about Robert Anderson. For several days now, his two daughters have been sorting through it: boxes of jazz classics, including Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Billie Holiday, many of them thick 78 RPMs.

They have boxed up the bio­graphies and antique cookbooks he read, and tried to figure out what to do with architectural drafting tools they didn't know he had, and model trains.

For decades, the government bureaucrat and management consultant had kept bric-a-brac such as this in a basement enclave. There was one trace he could not hide — a richly resonant baritone voice.

Mr. Anderson, whose life story bespoke reservoirs of talent, some of them barely tapped, died May 22. He was 85 and suffered from pulmonary blood clots.

Mr. Anderson was born in Southbridge, Mass., but grew up in East Hampton. From age 12 on, he sang at a Congregationalist church, developing a voice that took him around the world.

A member of the Army Air Forces for eight years, he studied foreign affairs at George Washington University, where he sang in the glee club. In 1950, he was one of a select ensemble, the Traveling Troubadours, tapped by Dr. Robert Howe Harmon to entertain troops on remote overseas bases.

He married Josephine Empey in 1951. Mr. Anderson served in the Air Corps and the Army's counter-intelligence reserve, and worked as a management consultant for clients like Eastern Airlines and Bonwit Teller. He also contributed as a policy aide to President Dwight Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" speech; as a foreign affairs officer for the U.S. State Department; as an analyst for the National Archives; as a planning coordinator for Ideal Standard; and as general manager of operations for UNICEF.

Those pursuits made him a living, but did not satisfy a larger hunger for self-expression, said Kathleen Anderson, his daughter and a New York literary agent.

"His passion was singing," said Anderson, 59. "That is the route he should have gone, because he was never meant to be a businessperson. He probably would have done better if had made his money through his art.

"His life is a lesson in the consequences of not pursuing your dreams."

Mr. Anderson and his wife separated the last 20 years of marriage. She died in 2009. In the mid 1990s, he met Edith Jeffries.

They dated, then lived together until her death 12 years later.

His daughter came across a 1947 edition of a literary magazine. It contained two poems by Mr. Anderson.

Her father had never mentioned he wrote poetry, she said.

. Biography

Robert Lee Anderson

Born: July 29, 1926

Died: May 22, 2012

Survivors: Daughters Kathleen and Laura Anderson; stepson Allan Stowell.

Service: 3 p.m. June 23, Bayview Chapel, 2905 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., followed by a Dixieland jazz reception at the chapel's community center.

Robert Anderson, 85, always had a passion for singing 06/01/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 1, 2012 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash

    Accidents

    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle

    World

    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators

    National

    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.