Dr. Herbert Anderson
1916 – 2016
By Charles Kelley
PHILOMATH, Oregon – On Dec 28th, my long-time friend and mentor, Dr. Herbert Anderson, an extraordinary husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, pastor, educator, orator, painter, singer and missionary statesman, died. He was 100 years old.
“When I grow up I want to be like Herb Anderson.” For at least twenty years many have heard me say this again and again.
The world was considerably different when Herb Anderson was born on March 1, 1916. The population of the planet was 1.6 billion. Woodrow Wilson was the president; and World War I was in full swing. Charlie Chaplain was Hollywood’s highest paid actor. Albert Einstein proposed the Theory of Relativity for the first time. Boeing flew its first aircraft and a brand new Ford Model T could be purchased for $340. Baseball’s top stars were Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker.
I call Herb one of the “Fathers of my Life”. He served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Corvallis in the ’70s and I served in the ’80s and ’90s. He has been a wonderful example and mentor for me. I could list a hundred highlights, but here are a few things that set Herb’s life apart:
He loved to preach. For him it was an art form. I love it when preachers don’t put people to sleep and it was impossible to sleep when Herb preached. He was so interesting, dynamic, dramatic and poetic. He was an orator who spoke from the heart.
He loved the church. His primary calling was that of a pastor. He understood that it meant much more than public ministry. He cared for the people in his congregations and whenever he changed churches, he left behind a myriad of thankful friends. He served churches in Portland, Monmouth, Lebanon and Corvallis just to name a few.
He loved to pray and his public prayers were always thoughtful, poetic and deep. He once told me how he frequently spent several hours preparing special public prayers. He understood that even though the main audience of his prayer was the Lord God, the people were listening, often with open hearts and minds. Herb often prayed at our BBI banquets and board meetings. I was always moved.
He loved to sing. Before George Beverly Shea sang with Billy Graham, Herb was in the quartet that sang when Billy preached. This is when they were students together at Wheaton College. He had a strong and pure tenor voice and he wasn’t ashamed to really sing out. A few years ago, he was asked to lead songs at a special gathering and he said if I would play piano, he would sing and lead. It was fun. He was so animated.
Herb loved Israel. He called his tours, “The Gospel According to Israel.” Over the years hundreds of people benefited from his encyclopedic knowledge of Israel’s special sites, and the Biblical stories associated with them. For several years in a row I would hear Herb say, “This next trip to Israel will be my last.” I always smiled.
He loved international ministry and served as General Director of the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society for a couple of years, a position of serious responsibility and influence. When I started Bridge Builders International in 1994 and shared my vision with him, he was so encouraging that I invited him to serve on my board. And he did for more than ten years. We thoroughly benefited from his depth of experience and timely words of wisdom. I will never forget the message he delivered on May 28, 1995 in Corvallis, the night that BBI was publicly launched. Because he was convinced that the Lord was setting our tiny mission apart to do extraordinary things in Latvia and beyond and that NOW was the time, he compared us to Queen Esther and how the Lord had prepared her to protect her people “for such a time as this.”
Herb loved ministering in Latvia. He was one of our Hope ‘99 evangelists and served in the tiny town of Misa. Phil and Sharon Doud and Betty Lu also served. Herb was especially drawn to a group of boys and poured into them. He left Latvia with a strong burden to encourage and reach men for Christ.
He loved students. When he was President of Judson Baptist College, he not only added instant credibility to the institution, he was extremely popular among the students. He was relational, humorous, unpredictable and interesting.
He loved fitness and bicycles. I’m not sure when he quit riding bikes, but it wasn’t very long ago. His bicycle trips up and down the West Coast, across the state of Oregon and even coast to coast finishing in Washington DC are legendary. Throughout most of his adult life Herb did 100 pushups every morning. I asked him about this habit when he was in his early 90s and he plopped down to the rug and did 75 in front of several eye witnesses with bulging eyes.
And…he loved to paint…and any pastor who paints is my kindred buddy.
Herb was not afraid to look at life…and death…right in the eye. Many years ago, a few months after his first wife, Betsy, passed away I asked Herb to come back to First Baptist Church of Corvallis to give a special message entitled, “What I Learned about Living and Dying in 1989″ (maybe the year before or after). My o my, what a message it was! He was surprisingly real, open and transparent.
I visited Herb and Betty Lu a couple of weeks ago. He had really declined; I knew that he was close to his eternal reward. When I spoke about heaven he smiled. I reminded him of some of the times that he and I visited dying people together. I marveled at how open and up front he was when speaking about death and heaven with the dying person. And then he would tenderly pray. We once visited a gentlemen in Corvallis a few hours before he passed and after we both prayed with the man and his wife, we lingered for a long time as he sang old hymn after old hymn and I played piano.
Now he’s singing a new song.
A memorial service for Herb Anderson will take place Jan. 21st at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church in Portland at 2 pm.