Abbie H. Anderson, a fierce advocate of public education and a member of the Terrell ISD school board for three decades, died on Nov. 3 in Terrell. He was 92.
Anderson won a seat on the Terrell ISD Board of Trustees in 1975 and was elected president in 1985.
Former Terrell ISD Supt. Bruce Wood said Anderson was the board president for nearly his entire tenure (1984-1997) as the district’s top administrator.
He remembered Anderson as “an outstanding individual” and called him a fair man. “You could always depend on Abbie to take the high road. And if there were issues that would come up during a board meeting or somewhere else, you could always depend on Abbie to be fair and even-handed.
“But you could also depend on him being a person that stood his ground. I attribute that to his military background as a lieutenant colonel. What you saw with Abbie is what you got.”
After returning to Terrell in 1971 after 24½ years in the U.S. Army, Anderson started taking an interest in public education in Terrell. He had four children in Terrell ISD schools and began attending school board meetings. Several years later, he ran for a seat.
“At the time I thought I could be of assistance and aid to our youth. The board is a policy-making body and based on the experience I had in management, I thought I could offer an advisory service to the administrators,” he told The Terrell Tribune in a 1992 interview.
He wasn’t one to claim credit for personal accomplishments during his years of service to the TISD. “This isn’t an individual thing, it’s a group thing,” he told the Tribune. “The board has worked together. There’s been disagreements of course, but I’ve enjoyed what we’ve done.”
Anderson was a product of Terrell public schools. His belief in the value of education, he said, was shaped at Burnett High School under the tutelage of Professor W.H. Burnett.
After high school graduation in 1946, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and did a three-year hitch. Upon leaving the Army, he enrolled at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) and joined the ROTC program. At Tuskegee, he met his wife of 67 years, Francis Rose Morgan, and the two would later form one of Terrell’s true power couples. Anderson renewed his military career after graduating college and completed tours in Korea, Germany and Vietnam. After retiring from the Army as a lieutenant colonel, he embarked on a career as an insurance agent, retiring after 25 years.
Frances worked as a teacher in Terrell for 22 years until retiring in 1984. Like Abbie, she would seek public office and was elected District 3 representative to the Terrell City Council. In 2002, she was elected mayor and served several terms.
Anderson believed in the power of public education to transform young lives.
He believed a child’s primary reason for being was to receive an education.
“I think they should make the most of it, learn as much as they can because they have only once chance to get a high school education. They need to take advantage of that. Everything they do depends on what they know. I don’t think we can stress education enough.”
Private services for Anderson were held Nov. 17 at DFW National Cemetery in Dallas. A memorial mass at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Terrell will be announced in December. His wife asks that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to St John the Apostle Catholic Church of Terrell or to a charity foundation of your choice.