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Published: Friday, 12/1/2006

Partner in Maumee firm was tireless fund-raiser

Thomas Anderson photographed birds as a hobby. Thomas Anderson photographed birds as a hobby.
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Thomas H. Anderson, 82, a business and civic leader, tireless fund-raiser for many Toledo-area organizations, and philanthropist, died yesterday in his home in the Anderson family compound in South Toledo.

Family members did not know the cause of death. He had sextuple bypass surgery and recovered from lymphoma several years ago. His health had been declining in recent months, his son Matt said.

Mr. Anderson was a partner and later a top executive in The Andersons Inc. in the years leading up to the Maumee company becoming a publicly traded firm with well over $1 billion in annual revenues.

He was a man of many talents and interests, but he was especially interested in the Toledo Zoo and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

He headed several zoo levy campaigns and pushed for the merger of three library systems into one in the 1960s, becoming the first president of the merged system in 1970. He served a total of 31 years on the library board, until 1984.

"That merger was no easy task," said Clyde Scoles, director of the library. "Government [units] don't like to merge."

He called Mr. Anderson "a great friend and mentor. He was always here when the library needed anything, and he was a good person to go to when we needed advice and counsel."

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said, "Tom Anderson, like his brothers and sister, has uncommon leadership skills, a wonderfully generous spirit, and the heart of a Christian solder. The Toledo community has been blessed to have Tom and [his wife], Mary Pat, as part of our community family. His spirit will live with us for decades."

Mike Anderson, president and chief executive officer of The Andersons and a nephew, said, "He helped build the company from day one into what it is. He was a leader who was wise in his thinking and judgment and was an integral part of the company for nearly 60 years."

Thomas Anderson was chairman of the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, in the early 1990s, and challenged businesses to fill a leadership vacuum in Toledo.

"He's probably one of the finest men I've ever known," said J. Michael Porter, chamber president from 1981-91 and a former Toledo city manager. "He was just a good person. He cared about people more than anyone could imagine."

Mr. Anderson served on many boards, including those of the Sunshine Children's Home, the former Maumee Valley Hospital, and the Medical College of Ohio, later renamed Medical University of Ohio and now merged into the University of Toledo. He was chairman of the MCO board for a time in the 1980s.

"He was very helpful to us when we started COSI Toledo," said Robert Savage, vice chairman of COSI's board and chairman of Savage & Associates, a Toledo financial services firm.

Mr. Savage said Mr. Anderson "liked to be someone who made a difference. There aren't many people who would always be helpful for a good cause. That's an Anderson trait, and he exemplified that."

Mr. Anderson had several hobbies, including birdwatching and nature photography. "He would travel all over the world to view birds and photograph them," Mr. Savage said.

Mr. Anderson wrote a book, Hunting Unlimited: Shooting Birds With a Camera, published by Simon & Schuster in 1999.

But he spent much of his time on board duties and fund-raising. In 1987, he told The Blade: "Right now, I'm spending more time on community affairs than company affairs."

At that time, he was a board member of the Toledo Community Foundation; chairman of the board of the former McAuley High School; a member of the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, and Ohio State University presidents clubs, and a past president of the Maumee Rotary Club.

He raised millions of dollars for charities and such causes as United Way, the Diocesan Development Fund, Central City Ministries, and a drive to fund the conversion of the Willis B. Boyer freighter into a museum ship on the Maumee River.

He also gained a reputation as a mediator. He was on the panel that successfully arbitrated, in the 1980s, a longstanding labor dispute involving farmers, food processors, and the Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee union.

Mr. Anderson was born in Toledo. His father, Harold Anderson, founded the family firm in 1947.

Thomas Anderson was one of five sons who helped build and diversify the agribusiness firm from its start as a grain elevator into retailing, lawn chemicals, railcar leasing and repair, and recently, ethanol production.

He became a senior partner and retired as chairman in 1996, a few months after The Andersons went public on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in agriculture and was a flying instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II.

Mr. Anderson and his wife, the former Mary Pat Adamshick, were married 54 years.

Surviving are his wife, Mary Pat; daughters, Mary Anderson, Molly McCartney, Janet Schoen, Ellen Carr, Kitty Judy, and Angel Finck; sons, Andy, Tony, Matt, Ted, Fritz, Alex, and Tom; foster son, Scott Fisk; brothers, Richard and Donald; sister, Carol Kraus; 55 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 3 p.m. Sunday in the Coyle Funeral Home. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in St. Joan of Arc Church, of which he was a member. The family suggests tributes to Central City Ministries; the Tom Anderson Endowment for 2020 in care of St. John's Jesuit High School, and the Toledo Zoo.



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