William H. (Bill) Anderson, 87, died January 14, 2024 at an Omaha hospital from end-stage COPD and RSV.
A Celebration of Life, with music and shared memories, will be 2 PM Saturday, March 23 (a change from previously announced date), at First Unitarian Church, 31st & Harney Street in Omaha.
Bill was born to Harvey and Vernetta (Roecker) Anderson in 1936 in Sioux City, IA, the second of three children. During the World War II years his family traveled to the west coast to seek work in the defense plants. The family of five lived in a small mobile home trailer and relocated several times in Bill’s early school years before returning to eastern South Dakota where they settled in Hudson, S.D. near the farm where his paternal grandparents lived. Soon after returning to Hudson, Bill’s parents divorced and his father left for work in Cuba and Florida.
Bill’s mother worked hard to support the children, Darly, Bill and Dick. The Anderson grandparents were an important part of Bill’s life, and for a time the family lived with them in the wood-stove heated farmhouse by the Big Sioux River. Bill recalled waking up in the second floor winter bedroom under a thick featherbed with his siblings, their breath visible and the contents of the chamber pot by the bed iced over.
Bill was a Boy Scout; a highlight of his youth was attending the1950 National Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge, PA. He returned home with a horned toad with a tiny collar and leash he had traded a Texas scout some South Dakota souvenir for. The toad was displayed in the window of the Hudson drugstore where his mother worked and where Bill himself was a soda jerk for a time. Later when his mother operated a café with a poolroom in the rear, Bill ran the poolroom and honed his shooting skills.
After graduation from Hudson High School in 1953, Bill attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and received a degree in journalism in 1957. His first newspaper job was with the Lincoln Star in Lincoln, NE, where he worked as a reporter and later a copy editor.
Bill met his future wife, Barbara Wilson, a student at the University of Nebraska, while at the Star. They dated briefly and then reconnected in 1962 when Bill was working at the Omaha World-Herald and Barb was teaching at Bellevue High School. They were married on Groundhog Day of 1963. Two children, Joe in 1963 and Jill in 1966, completed the family.
Bill worked in the World Herald newsroom the rest of his career, with stints on both night and day shift on the copydesk and on various special section projects. He was known for his headline writing and page design, and his work was featured in 13 of the framed “famous front pages” that lined a corridor at the paper. One such page covered the moon landing and another the famous Blizzard of ’75. When big news broke, Bill couldn’t wait to get to work and be in the tumult of meeting deadlines and creating the elements that made for dynamic stories and creative page design.
Bill worked in the newsroom from 1962 until 1995. The shift to electronic editing on computer terminals presented problems with his eyesight (he was legally blind) which led to his 1995 disability retirement. Bill followed the news in retirement and always was well informed on current events. He enjoyed time at the cabin they owned near Louisville NE on a man-made lake.
Prior to the COVID pandemic, a highlight of Bill’s week was shooting pool on Thursday afternoons with a group of friends which sometimes included son Joe. At home, he prized his big screen TV and followed news and politics avidly
Bill loved his Boston Terrier doggies, first Sally and later Stella, who both preceded him in death along with his parents, his brother, Dick, and his sister, Darly (Evanson), who was a strong influence and provided a great model of strength and resilience for Bill and all of her extended family.
Bill is survived by his wife, Barbara, son Joe Anderson (Sandra Besch), and daughter Jill Anderson, as well as his sister’s children: Bob (Karen) Evanson, Julie (Paul) Serck, and Paula (Carl) Treiber and their families, plus numerous cousins.
Bill will be remembered for his sly humor, his love of gadgets, his Instant Pot devotion, his passion for Amazon shopping, and his generous and spontaneous gifting of excess gadgets and impulse buys. (His friend John Mortensen quipped that when he heard Bill was in hospice, he quickly sold his Amazon stock. Bill would have loved that joke.)
Bill was a kind man, generous, nonjudgmental, never mean-spirited. He was dearly loved and will be sorely missed.