George ‘Andy? Anderson was a ‘straight up guy?

When George (Andy) Anderson hit the Independence Township scene in October, 1973, the Clarkston News described him as a ‘ball of fire,? resembling ‘an easygoing Scandinavian.?
Mr. Anderson died after his lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease last Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, at the Genesys Hospice in Goodrich. He was 64-years-old.
Anderson was 30-years-old when the Independence Township Board of Trustees hired him as director for the Department of Public Works. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest DPW director in the state.
‘I remember him telling me that he applied but didn’t think he’d get the job because he was so young,? said Craig ‘Yogi? Richardson, who worked with Mr. Anderson starting in 1984.
‘He came up through the ranks and we all knew if something was wrong and we had to go out, Andy would have the answer. When Andy told you how to do something you could count on it being right,? Richardson said.
Mr. Anderson replaced Lynn Thorpe, who held the DPW chief’s job when it was first created in April, 1973. The position was created as sewers had just came to Independence Township. When Mr. Anderson came to town to replace Thorpe he brought with him nine years experience as West Bloomfield Township’s assistant manager of water, sewer and inspection department. By the time his first month in Independence had been completed, Mr. Anderson had laid the foundation for the township’s infrastructural growth that would last well into the 21st century.
‘The township brought him in after the sewer systems were first installed. Andy oversaw all the extensions and growth — and did a really good job, a job we have been able to build upon since. He really developed and oversaw the system we have now,? said former township trustee and treasurer Fred Ritter.
‘Andy was a good guy and socially he was a blast. He and I were able to work together for about 10 years,? Ritter said.
A Clarkston News article on Nov. 15, 1973, said this of Mr. Anderson:
‘In that short time he’s set up permit charges and installation fees for water meters, which has taken the township out of the charitable classification for developers, prior to this time, township offices confirm the township purchased meters, sold them to the developer, but installed them free of charge.
?. . . He also has plans to change the overhead fee on all plan reviews . . . there is also a new design standard being incorporated . . . and on top of all that, Anderson has the temerity to charge the Oakland County DPW more than $2,000 for damage incurred . . .?
One of Mr. Anderson’s best friends was longtime Orion Township DPW director Dick White.
‘Andy wasn’t afraid of anybody,? White said. ‘He was a straight up guy. He told it like it was. If you liked it, that was fine, if not, well that was fine, too. We’ve known each other for a long time. We went to conventions together and our families vacationed together. He was a great friend and he really knew his business.?
White reports he had visited with Mr. Anderson a week prior to his death. ‘It was hard to understand him, but I don’t think he ever lost his sense of humor. Before knowing he had Parkinsons, we used to kid him about shaking. We never let up on him after we found out. He would rather us do that than to act like we didn’t notice.?
When Mr. Anderson started with Independence, it was a much more rural community — 70 percent of the township was undeveloped. In that same Nov. 15, 1973 Clarkston News article it was reported, ‘Anderson’s philosophy of utility management appears to agree with sentiments expressed by elected and appointed township officials.?
In that article, Mr. Anderson said, ‘Utilities shouldn’t be extended to encourage development. Development should come at its own pace. If the developer wants it bad enough, he should have to extend services at his own expense. This is a beautiful rural area. I’d hate to see big condominiums complexes popping up all over. I like single family homes on big lots.?
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Mr. Anderson retired in 1999 as his Parkinson’s progressed. The next DPW director was, and still is Linda Richardson.
‘Andy was a unique person. He knew his job and enjoyed it. He was very knowledgable about the technical end of things. And he was very easy going. Every employee who ever worked with him would call him the best of bosses. As long as you did your job, he wouldn’t bother you — but he was very concerned for his employees and we all knew if we had a personal problem we could talk with him about it,? she said.
She said Mr. Anderson gave her a shot at taking care of the township’s Lakeview Cemetery. ‘He said, ‘You have two weeks to learn it. If you can’t, you’re done.? When he saw I could do it, then he started mentoring me. He taught me what I needed to know by letting me do the work. He was good at delegating and even though I used to grouse about it then, I would not have learned it and I have to thank him for that.?
Yogi Richardson (no relations to Linda), who still works at the DPW, echoed those sentiments.
‘He was the fairest boss and he showed me the ropes. He was very patient with me. I came from the trades world and was a little rough around the edges — Andy taught me the PR part of the business, how to deal with customers when they had a problem. He enjoyed life and always had an anecdote or story from his life that he would tell you that would lead back to what you were now doing wrong.?
When not working or spending time with family and friends, he enjoyed golf and reading.
Mr. Anderson was born on Dec. 28, 1942 in Pontiac to Karl Anderson and Anna (nee) Huesen. He was a graduate of Roscommon High School and attended Michigan State University majoring in Water & Sewer Management. Stationed in Newfoundland, Mr. Anderson was a diver for the United States Navy.
On March 28, 1963, he married Ruth Arlene Flake in Keego Harbor. The Andersons have two daughters, Jennifer (Thomas) Roberts of Ortonville and Anna, of FL.
Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife and daughters, as well as a granddaughter, Nadia Rain Roberts, brothers Carl (Leona) Anderson of St. Helen, Jim (Shirley) Anderson of VA., and many cherished family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Robert. Memorial donations to the National Parkinson’s Foundation or to Genesys Hospice in Goodrich, whose staff deserves thanks for their compassionate care.
A celebration of his life is planned for 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Deer Lake Racquet Club. RSVP with Linda Richardson at 248-625-8222.

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