Anderson, 77, businessman, raised money for Morgan State

W. A.

October 05, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

William Arthur Anderson, a retired businessman who became a volunteer fund-raiser for Morgan State University and helped garner millions of dollars for scholarships and school activities, died Sept. 22 of cancer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Since 1984, Mr. Anderson, who was 77 and lived in Cross Keys in North Baltimore, was a volunteer with the Morgan State Foundation, where he was chairman of the development committee, treasurer and vice-president. The foundation is one of the university's major fund-raising arms.

"He was so concerned about students on this urban campus," said Mary Robinson, Morgan State's director of development. "He was the best coordinator of people I've ever seen."

Mr. Anderson, always impeccably dressed, spoke clearly, slowly and precisely, and used his many community and cooperate contacts to get donations to the university. When he came to the foundation, it had less than $100,000; today, it has more than $1 million.

During his first year at Morgan State he helped create the school's first gala -- a formal dance and banquet fund-raiser. In its first year, the event drew about 500 alumni and community leaders; it is now one of the university's more popular events and attracts nearly 2,000 people.

A presentation will be made in his honor at this year's gala Oct. 17.

"He engaged people so, he was so positive and had so much to offer," Ms. Robinson said. "He thought Morgan did not have enough corporate involvement, and he worked to change that."

A native of Jackson, Tenn., Mr. Anderson served in the Army from 1941 to 1949. After his discharge, Anderson worked in the electronics industry in California and New York at a time when few blacks held high-ranking positions.

When he worked at Newark Electronics in New York, he swiftly rose through the ranks to become an industrial sales manager and the company's first black executive.

When the company became Terminal-Hudson Electronics, he served in numerous capacities, including systems and methods designer, a buyer and wrote sales manuals. He was also in charge of government bidding.

During his stay at Terminal-Hudson, he was hailed as one of the most prominent black electronics executives by many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Financial World and Electronic News.

He retired from Terminal-Hudson in 1974 to devote himself to volunteer work. He worked for New York charities until he moved to Baltimore in 1981.

Mr. Anderson volunteered for or was appointed to many posts, including chairman of the board of Overseers of the Westside Skills Center, chairman of the Mutual Housing Task Force, treasurer and board member of the Mutual Housing Association.

"He dedicated his entire life to reinvesting himself into the community," said his wife, the former Elizabeth Williams, whom he married in 1948.

Anton "Bud" Endler, who worked on the foundation with Mr. Anderson, said he was always thinking of ways to raise money for the school.

He would "listen to all suggestions and evaluate them," Mr. Endler said. "He was always pushing for the foundation."

Services were Sept. 26 at Morgan State.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a brother, Robert L. Anderson of San Francisco.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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