Suffolk mourns for the man who ‘moved mountains’

Published 10:45 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Suffolk lost a dedicated educator, proud Native American and ceaseless fighter for family and strangers alike on Saturday.

Dr. Alvin “Andy” W. Anderson Sr. passed away at the age of 87 in his Suffolk home surrounded by family and friends. He will be remembered as “a mover and a shaker” in the city, according to his wife of 48 years, Barbara “Bobbi” Anderson, who was called “Guy Guy” by his grandchildren and “Big Mountain” by members of the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

“He was a ‘Big Mountain’ and he moved mountains,” his daughter Julia Pauley said.


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Anderson, who was Cherokee, was an honorary member of the Nansemond Tribe that he considered family. He was a staunch supporter who helped push the city to hand over a 70-acre parcel of land at Lone Star Lakes Park back to the tribe, which was agreed upon in 2013.

“He was a caring person who loved his family,” his son Alvin “Andy” W. Anderson Jr. said.

That land became the site of Mattanock Town, the tribe’s village and year-round cultural center where more than 1,000 visitors celebrate the annual Nansemond Indian Tribe powwow.

“This will carry Native American culture further for years to come,” Anderson told the Virginian-Pilot in August 2013.

There was never a challenge too big for “Big Mountain,” whether it was fighting a proposed expansion of Route 460 that would have forced him and his family off their property or telling the authorities to watch out for drivers speeding through school zones. Staff at the mayor’s office knew him by name, and he knew City Council members personally, his wife said.

He would endlessly write letters to officials that his wife would type on the computer. Each file was saved in Andy’s “fix the world” folder, which she named herself.

“I didn’t know what else to call it, but that’s what he tried to do,” she said.

Pauley described her father as a Christian first and an Indian second. He was chair of the Property Committee and a member of Windsor Congregational Christian Church, where he served as a deacon. He also taught Sunday school in the Gladys J. Holland Class and was on the Christian Board of Education.

His Christianity was fostered during his childhood. He was born in High Point, N.C., on July 8, 1931, to Alice Brown Anderson Bridgers and Zebulon Anderson. His father abandoned the family when he and his brother, Edward Anderson, were very young, leaving his Cherokee mother to raise them through poverty and struggle.

“His mother made sure they went to church every Sunday and gave him that Christian foundation,” Pauley said. “She had to be exceptional to raise two outstanding young men.”

She said Anderson looked up to his brother very much. His brother served in both World War II and the Korean War before he died in 1978 and was recognized as Outstanding Airman of the Year in 1956.

Anderson himself enlisted in the Navy after he graduated from Maury High School, after which he served as an intelligence specialist in the Air Force until he was honorably discharged after sustaining an injury.

“He was really upset when he had to be honorably discharged,” Anderson said. “He really wanted to serve.”

“Daddy would have gone to fought the world itself, because his integrity was huge,” Pauley added.

Anderson would go on to serve as an educator. He earned his Bachelor of Science in secondary education at the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary, now known as Old Dominion University. He earned his master’s degree at University of Virginia and his Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

From 1970 to 1971, he served as headmaster of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy — where he helped “The Saints” become the school mascot, his wife said. He co-founded Alliance Christian High School in Portsmouth in 1971 with the Rev. Earl Freeland, also serving as its headmaster.

The private school was later renamed Alliance Christian Academy and had about 150 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade when it closed in 2017 after more than 40 years. Anderson retired from Buckingham County Public Schools, where he served as assistant superintendent of secondary education, after 32 years spent in public and private education.

But he never stopped helping students and parents who needed “Mr. Anderson.” His wife recalled the time when the two met a man during a fiddler show in Galax. The man shared his concerns for his special-needs granddaughter, who was having difficulty in getting the assistance she needed from her school.

Her husband listened closely before writing down exactly what he needed to do along with his phone number.

“The little girl was able to get the services she needed, and the man was so grateful that he had a dulcimer hand-made for me, which I still have in my den,” Anderson said.

His generosity and care also extended to animals. A house with a fence was constructed on the family’s property with all the amenities needed to make sure the animals were comfortable. He kept it clean, even when there was up to 17 dogs inside, according to his granddaughter, Amber Hancock.

“They were spoiled,” Hancock said with a laugh.

His wife will continue to care for his “baby,” a 5-year-old beagle named Callie.

“Our veterinarian says she’s one of the luckiest dogs she’s ever seen,” she said.

Anderson’s family is brimming with beautiful memories of him. His wife remembers how they met and fell in love, she a student and he her night school instructor before they went to church together and had dinner with her family.

Hancock remembers how “Guy Guy” would read books to her when she was a child. When she and her mother, Julia Pauley, moved to Nevada, he sent recordings of him reading for her to enjoy when he couldn’t read to her in person.

“He wasn’t perfect, but he was close to it,” Anderson said.

He was predeceased by his mother, Alice Brown Anderson Bridgers; father, Zebulon Anderson; stepfather, Haynes Collier Bridgers; brother, Edward Luther Anderson; son, Roy E. Wilson; and brother-in-law, Daniel F. Carter.

He is survived by his loving wife, Barbara “Bobbi” Anderson; his children, Brenda Anderson Livingston, Julia Anderson Pauley (Brian) and Alvin “Andy” W. Anderson Jr. (Kathleen), along with his daughter-in-law, Karen Jones Wilson; his grandchildren, Kimberly and Katie Livingston, Amy Rountree, Amber Hancock, Kristina Wood, Nicole McGrady, Andrew Anderson and Kenneth Wilson; his 16 great-grandchildren; his sisters-in-law, Iris Carter, Patricia Davenport and Fran Smith; many nieces, nephews and friends; and his dog, Callie.

The family will receive friends at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Windsor Congregational Christian Church, 4 N. Court St. A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Windsor Congregational Christian Church, where a reception will immediately follow. A private burial will be held at the Anderson’s Native American burial ground at 4 p.m.

Donations may be made to the Nansemond Indian Nation at, the American Cancer Society, or Windsor Congregational Christian Church.