By Paul Letlow, ULMWarhawks.com Online Columnist
MONROE, La. – Bob Anderson, who served 33 years as ULM’s sports information director, died on Sunday, April 28.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Known affectionately as “The Dean” by friends in the business, Anderson’s loyalty, length of service and depth of knowledge about ULM athletics were a priceless resource for the program.
“He was a super man to deal with,” former ULM football coach Pat Collins said. “He never got ruffled during the tough times when people were being critical because maybe we missed a field goal or whatever. He always handled everything with dignity and class.”
A Mississippi native with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from LSU, Anderson spent more than 50 years as a sports writer, publicist – and fan of ULM.
“It was surprising,” he once said. “I didn’t have a career goal in mind when I did it. I was just happy here.”
No sports reporter who ever shared a media work space with him escaped without hearing Anderson bang his fist on the counter or exclaim “Great Scott!” when the action stirred his emotions. The media rule “No cheering in the press box,” didn’t always apply to Anderson.
“He was one of the few SIDs who stood up and cheered at the press table,” former ULM basketball coach Mike Vining said. “There was no doubt where his loyalty was and who he pulled for. He was loyal and I know he did an awful lot for me.”
Anderson retired in 1994 and the Malone Stadium press box is named in his honor. For years after his retirement, Anderson remained a regular at athletic events along with his wife Nike.
Anderson enjoyed a decorated career at ULM that earned him a number of awards for his media guides, previews and press releases. He entered ULM’s L Club Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and his 2003 book “Indian Territory: The Story of ULM Athletics” is the definitive history of the program.
“When you retire, you look for things to do and I’d always wanted to do that,” Anderson once said of his book. “It was a good story. When I came in the early years of the university, athletics were poor. We didn’t have much to brag about. When we won the National Championship (in 1987), I said, ‘There’s a rags to riches story.’”
Hired by Dr. George T. Walker as ULM’s first sports information director in 1961, Anderson was honored with the award that bears the former university president’s name in 2013. The George T. Walker Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes those who distinguish themselves through professional and personal achievement and honors those who significantly contribute to the university and the alumni association.
“He was just a class man,” Collins said. “I never heard him say a cuss word or get bent out of shape. He remained confident. I’ll miss him.”
Anderson put his writing skills to work to earn the job with a letter to Walker several years before his actual hire. Then working as a sports writer at The Monroe (La.) Morning World, Anderson had a vision for a sports publicity position that didn’t even exist yet.
“I wrote him a letter saying ‘You ought to get one,’” he once recalled. “’And I’m available.’ That was four or five years before and it stayed in the file I guess.”
Anderson’s work is appreciated outside university circles too. Anderson earned the Mac Russo Award from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association for Progress and Ideals in 1992, the LSWA Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism in 1994, Mr. Louisiana Basketball from the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches in 1997 and was the first SID inducted in the Southland Conference Hall of Honor in 2002. Later, he worked for Congressman John Cooksey, including four years as press secretary.
“He was a cornerstone guy in our organization,” said longtime Northwestern State sports information director Doug Ireland, a fixture with the LSWA. “The epitome of a Distinguished Service Award winner. I’m so glad he received the recognition that he deserved at a time when he could truly enjoy it.”
ULM’s history-makers in athletics owe a debt to Anderson, who made sure their accomplishments were not overlooked then – or forgotten as time went on.
“He was a ULM man, an NLU man, a Northeast man,” Collins said. “He was all in and a real plus for the University. He will be missed by a lot of people.”