Anderson, Gerald Clifton

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Gerald Clifton Anderson, 90, of Blacksburg, professor, scholar, farmer, and poet, departed this life on October 5, 2011. Born in Barre, Vt. on December 13, 1920, Gerry was the son of the late Ernest W. Anderson and Lillian G. Anderson. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 57 years, Arlene M. Anderson.

Gerry is survived by his sister, Phyllis A. Sprague; his children, Caryl Gray (F. Gail), Mildred Anderson, Martha Olson (Thomas), and William Anderson (Donna); his grandsons, David Gray (Stephanie Gaillard), Andrew Gray (Christine), Daniel Gray (Jennifer), Niklas Olson, Erik Olson; great-grandson, Brennan Gray; and stepgrandson, Christopher Rushford. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Charlotte M. Tarbox; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A soldier who served in the South Pacific, Gerry was proud of his military service in World War II. He often chuckled about his assignment to a cavalry unit since horses had been demobilized shortly before he entered service. During his service in the Philippines, he developed a deep concern for the people and their lack of nutritious food. These experiences would have a strong influence on Gerry’s career path.

He studied agriculture at Massachusetts Technical College (now University of Massachusetts) and continued his education at the University of Missouri, receiving Master’s and Doctorate degrees. A faculty member at West Virginia University until his retirement, Gerry was a passionate teacher and researcher. He challenged his students in the classroom, encouraging them to read, think, and develop ideas. His research interests focused on animal nutrition, animal physiology, and animal behavior. During a sabbatical leave to New Zealand and Australia, he studied grassland farming practices. He not only shared the knowledge with West Virginia sheep farmers but also applied the practices to his own farm and served as a consultant on the reclamation of strip mined areas in West Virginia. He also traveled to Tanzania and Uganda on behalf of USAID. These experiences, coupled with his observations in the South Pacific, led to the development of an interdisciplinary course entitled “Man and Food”.

Although not one to embrace recognition, Gerry was honored to be recognized as an Outstanding Teacher by West Virginia University and to be elected a Fellow of the American Society of Animal Science. Gerry and Arlene were avid gardeners and their homes in Morgantown and Blacksburg were full of color and variety. Arlene, as the artist, arranged the flower gardens and Gerry tilled and cultivated the vegetable garden. They loved to share the bounty of their gardens with family, friends, and those in need.

Gerry loved poetry and “dabbled” in writing poems for several years. After moving to Blacksburg, he actively participated in the regional poetry group and looked forward to the group’s retreats. A collection of his poems, As I See It, was published in 2010 and features the art of his daughter Martha.

His generous spirit, warm personality, and wit were a joy to all who knew him and he will be missed by his family and friends.

A memorial service will be held on November 19, 2011 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation (UUC), 1301 Gladewood Dr. NW, Blacksburg, Va.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Building Fund. Arrangements by McCoy Funeral Home, Blacksburg.