Longtime businessman, philanthropist, and community leader Richard P. "Dick" Anderson, chairman emeritus of The Andersons Inc., has become the latest local figure of note to be profiled by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system.
Dick Anderson: A Toledo Pioneer, an hourlong film produced by the library's Local History & Genealogy department, is to make its debut at 6:30 tonight in the second-floor McMaster Center at the library's main branch, 325 Michigan St. downtown. A reception honoring Mr. Anderson is to begin at 6 p.m.
Jill Clever, the department's acting manager, said the film about Mr. Anderson - a one-on-one interview of his recollections that includes family photos - is part of the library's ongoing Sights and Sounds series that is attempting to gather oral local history from those who influenced it and made it.
Begun in 2008, the series has produced filmed interviews with Joel Lipman, Lucas County's first poet laureate; local jazz legend Jon Hendricks, and area sports broadcasting veteran Frank Gilhooley.
"The point of this is to preserve the memories and the history of different leaders who have played an important role in the community," Ms. Clever said.
The library realized several years ago that the best stories come from interviewing history-makers while they are still living, rather than trying to gather in-formation later, Ms. Clever said. "That's why we're moving forward with this series. We have been discussing things with a lot of folks."
Mr. Anderson, 81, was interviewed by retired Blade editor and vice president Tom Walton.
In the film, which can be viewed online at the library's Web site, toledolibrary.org, and is available in DVD format to check out from the library, Mr. Anderson recounts some of his earliest memories of growing up in Maumee, including family gatherings and his impressions of his brothers, John, Bob, Tom, and Don.
He describes growing up during the Great Depression and recognizing that, in comparison with others, his family had plenty. "People were poor. That's what I remember about Maumee," he says, recalling his family often would help out by buying galoshes and other things for his schoolmates at St. Joseph's School.
Mr. Anderson also describes how his parents, Harold and Margaret Anderson, never used work to punish him. "Dad's favorite line was, 'Work is a blessing.' And I want to tell you when I was 10, 12 years old, I felt we probably were blessed. But I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing at the time.
"We were probably the most blessed family in northwest Ohio," he says.
Mr. Anderson discusses the family's decision, in 1953, to hire college students to build its concrete grain silo, against the wishes of the local building trades unions, and goes into detail about the decision to take the family business public in 1996.
He also describes the period his family's agribusiness began having growing pains and brought in a consultant to assess the company. "He said, 'I can describe your company in two words: mass confusion,'•" Mr. Anderson recalls. "Boy, was that a shock.
Toward the end of the film, the chairman emeritus discusses what fuels his passion for philanthropy, his involvement with the arts, and his greatest weakness: an inability to say "no" to charity projects.
"It's very easy to make commitments," he says. "But be very careful. You can get overextended."
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