The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 17, 2014

James William Anderson

JOPLIN, Mo. — James William Anderson, 87, passed away Jan. 14, 2014, in Joplin, Mo., peacefully and surrounded by loved ones.

Jim Bill, as he was known, was born in Neosho, Mo., on Sept. 28, 1926, an only child of James Gilmore and Ada Marie (Barnett) Anderson. He attended Oklahoma A&M University where he met the love of his life and bride of 65 years, Dorothy LaVerne Smith, a.k.a. Taffy. They were married in Tulsa, Okla., on Oct. 16, 1948.  

At the age of 10, Jim began working for his grandfather's newspaper, The Neosho Daily Democrat and managed his own paper route. About three years later he began riding to work at 6 a.m. with his father, who also worked at the paper, until he graduated from Neosho High School in 1944 and joined the Navy. He was initially stationed at Banna River, Fla., now know as Cape Canaveral. He never saw action in the war as he was an accomplished musician and every time he was transferred he was asked to play in the band.

After completing his service in the Navy, Jim attended Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater. He met Taffy Smith at Shadow Lake in Noel, Mo., the summer before her senior year of high school. About two years later Jim and his new bride moved to Neosho and Jim rejoined his father and grandfather at the paper. He worked there until 1952 when his grandfather, William Gilmore Anderson, sold the paper.

After the paper sold, Jim continued to work for the new owner for several months and then bought an insurance agency and named it Anderson Insurance Agency. He wrote auto, fire and commercial lines of business. On April 1, 1961, he went to work for Equitable of Iowa selling life insurance, specializing in estate planning. He was "Man of the Year" in his region that year and 32nd in the whole company of 1500 agents, even though he only had nine months of production. In 1963, he was elected Director of the State Association of Life Underwriter and in 1965 he attained the high distinction of becoming a Chartered Life Underwriter.

While in Neosho, he was very active in community affairs. He was a member of the Jaycees and Lions Club, and was elected president of both. He began the Shrine Club of Neosho, and was a member of the Springfield Shrine because they had a band. He was also an avid sportsman. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and was one of the best golfers around.

In 1967, he joined American National Insurance Company as their General Agent in Tulsa. During his first year his branch earned the honor of the company's No. 1 New Agency. His expertise was in pension sales, and in 1972 after two refusals, he finally accepted the position as Director of Pension Sales and he and Taffy moved to the company's headquarters in Galveston, Texas. Fourteen months later he was promoted to Vice President of Agency Development. In December 1976, he was promoted to Senior Vice President and Director of Ordinary Agencies. In short order he was  promotion to Executive VP.  As Director of Ordinary Agencies he was responsible for overseeing the sales efforts of more than 3,000 fulltime sales and branch office personnel, as well as the operations of 357 branch offices in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and Western Europe. In 1983, he became the Regional Director for the Southwest Region, which became the company's No. 1 region. While working for American National, Jim qualified to go on every convention the company had. Jim and Taffy traveled the world extensively, going to Mexico, Europe, Hong Kong and Hawaii to name a few. In December 1993, at the age of 67, Jim retired from American National and he and Taffy made their home on Lake Travis in Lago Vista, Texas.

He leaves behind his loving wife, Taffy, who expertly managed their home and cared for him until his last day, as well as his children: son, David and daughter-in-law, Debbie, of Joplin, daughter, Kathy Mays, of Azle, Texas, and son, Paul, of Houston, Texas. He was affectionately known as Pappaw to eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

He will be dearly missed by his family who knew him as a man who was generous, loving, funny and demanding of respect. He was somehow able to spoil his grandchildren while still instilling in them an understanding that material possessions are not what life is about. He showed his family that working hard, laughing a lot, honoring  God and preserving family are the keys to a wonderful life. He had a larger-than-life personality that made him impossible to ignore or forget. We certainly will not.

The body has been taken for cremation and family services will be held at a later date.

Contributions in memory of Jim may be made to Ronald McDonald House in cre of Clark Funeral Home, P.O. Box 66, Neosho, MO 64850.

Services under direction of Clark Funeral Home, Neosho.

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