MMI honors former mayor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Paul B. Anderson, a 1937 alumnus of Marion Military Institute and former mayor of Marion, is a citizen who has made a difference in the city that has been his home since he was 5. In recognition of his service to his community and to his country, he was honored with a parade on the Walter Givhan Parade Field at MMI on May 12.

On the front campus of the school construction has begun on the Paul B. Anderson Tennis Complex,

a gift of Gary and Beverly Hollister, Anderson’s daughter and son-in-law, who pledged $100,000 for the project. When it is completed, MMI President Colonel James Benson plans to open the courts to the community during open weekends at the school.

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In making the presentation, Beverly Hollister said her gift was “one of the greatest gifts I can give because of my father’s love of tradition and country.” Col. Benson

commented on “what Paul Anderson means to this community and to Marion Military Institute.”

And Anderson is already anticipating, perhaps, hitting the first tennis ball across the net.

His life of service began shortly before World War II when he joined the National Guard and was called to active duty on Nov. 25, 1940, “about the same time as Selma’s Company C. We all were sent to Camp Blanding, Fla.”

After 18 months service he applied for Officers Training School, received his commission at Fort Benning, Ga. and was sent to California to train a company of Philippino troops. His next service was in New Guinea, and he says “I lived through it, finally coming home in 1946.”

His stay at home was short-lived. The Korean Conflict began, Anderson was recalled to active duty and sent to Korea, coming home again in 1954.

Shortly after his return he organized National Guard Unit 107 Transportation Company in Marion.

And he entered the insurance business. Then, in 1960, his friend Leigh Pegues persuaded him to run for office and he was elected to the Marion City Council, serving six four-year terms. When Mayor Doug Moore died, Anderson, who was president pro tem, took his place and served as mayor for eight years, retiring as mayor in 1992.

Anderson had retired in 1986 from State Farm Insurance Company after 32 years, “mostly because my daughter persuaded me to step down.”

But his service to his community has never faltered.

“I became involved and stay involved because Marion is my town, same reason I help at MMI when I can. The school is good for Marion and Marion is good for the school. We need each other,” he said.

His other interests include Boy Scouts, in which he worked with Selma’s late Bill Crane. For his service with the Scouts Anderson received the Silver Beaver Award, Boy Scouts highest honor.

During his years in public office he actively recruited industry and took a leading role in obtaining from the Southern Railway the property on the restored old Depot and the walking trail are located.

A longtime member of the Marion Methodist Church, Anderson has served on the executive board and as its chairman and in numerous other capacities. “I told the preacher it was time now to slow down, but I still go to church.”

Other organizations in which he has been active include the Marion Lions Club, the Masonic Lodge in which he is a Master Mason. For 16 years he served as a member of the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission, filling the chairman’s position for four of those years.

Paul and Sarah Terry Anderson, were introduced by a mutual friend and were married in 1991. She had returned to Alabama with her husband Charles Terry, after living in several Asian countries during his assignments with the State Department. After his death she remained in Montgomery, where he had been State Personnel Director. Anderson also experienced the deaths of his first two spouses, who were sisters.

In these, his retirement years, Sarah and Paul Anderson plan to play golf “although my wife always beats me, ” he says, laughing. He is also working on a project at their home, and spends time with the family canine pets, Goldie and Jack.Sarah will continue her charitable activities and golf benefit fund raising.

The Andersons have a total of eight children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. None lives in Marion, “but we get together often,” the couple says. “And we all enjoy it.”