Jerry Anderson, 73

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 6:00am
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Jerome Ward Anderson, Jerry to his neighbors in Boston and Block Island, passed away peacefully in Boston at age 73, from Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). Relatives remarked it was characteristic for Jerry to make his grand exit on July 4, one of his favorite holidays, when he would invariably be found piloting a vintage truck packed with youngsters past the cheering assemblage at the Block Island parade. 

Jerry first started coming to Block Island in childhood to visit his Aunt Calla Anderson at her Cooneymus Road home, which now belongs to Jerry’s family. David Lewis recalled hearing how, in the 1950s, a young Jerry liked to accompany Aunt Calla’s friend Clarence Lewis on milk deliveries across the island.

An older Jerry was a great support during David’s presidency of the Block Island Conservancy. A charter member in 1973, Jerry not only served as Conservancy treasurer from 1997 to 1998, but also led the Board of Directors through a revision of the by-laws and articles of incorporation. He was a gracious host of fundraisers for conservation projects at Mitchell Farm (2007) and the Solviken property (2012).

In addition to volunteering for the Block Island Conservancy, Jerry served on the Block Island Health Services Investment Advisory Board for more than a decade.

Many Islanders have observed Jerry’s devotion to the people and places he loved. Martha Ball commented on his 1880 property, noting that the careful restoration and modification of the main house and barn has “a what-century-is-this? look to it.” Jerry’s love for the land extended to collaborating with neighbors who shared his pond to get it an official designation as Calla’s Pond in October 2000.

And if anything more were needed to cement Jerry’s love for Block Island, according to a story with which he often regaled friends, he found a priceless treasure at the transfer station: a first edition in French by his beloved Proust.

Jerry’s devotion to people was as strong as his devotion to place, and among many examples, former First Warden Edith Blane recalled his determination — despite his advanced MSA — to attend the recent funeral of his neighbor Aloyise Pomeroy at St. Ann’s.

Jerry nurtured island relationships over decades, mostly in summer. But he and his wife, Priscilla, were also active in the year-round community from January 1993 to August 1996, when they lived on the Island. 

A native of Tucson, Ariz., Jerry graduated Stanford University in 1966 and Stanford Law School in 1969. He was awarded the Weter Prize for best honors history thesis and a law fellowship in Paris.   

Jerry bypassed the prospect of tenure in academia to pursue careers in law at Sullivan & Cromwell and in finance at the Ford Foundation, Citibank International Investment Management, and Boston Investment Advisers, which he founded. An amateur historian, literary critic, and essayist, Jerry was renowned for his sophisticated but sturdy culinary style, acquired during postings in Paris, New York City, London and his native Tucson. A visionary volunteer, and entrepreneur, Jerry was instrumental in founding institutions as varied as Carnegie Hill Neighbors in New York City, which initiated the springtime planting of tulips in the Park Avenue malls between 86th and 98th Street, Investor Responsibility Research Center, which took an early and decisive role in pushing for divestment of apartheid South Africa, and the Proust Society at the Boston Athenaeum. 

At the twilight of his life, Jerry was deeply honored by his Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers’ endowment of the Jerry Anderson Prize for History at Stanford. 

Jerry is survived by his devoted and accomplished wife and daughters of Boston, Priscilla, Grace and Lily, respectively, and a son from a previous marriage, Jason (his wife, Arlana); and three grandchildren, Caitlin, Derek, and Kristen, of Vancouver, B.C.; brother William (his wife, Kay) and family of Tucson; and step-sisters Suzy Kerrick and family of Olney, Maryland., and Stephanie Treat and family of Tucson. 

Services will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at 3 p.m., Church of The Advent, 30 Brimmer Street, Boston, Mass., 02108.  In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Stanford University, PO Box 20466, Stanford, California, 94309, Memo: Jerry Anderson Prize Fund. (The Jerry Anderson Prize for History at Stanford is awarded to an undergraduate each year for outstanding research in the History Department.)