Community mourns loss of Anderson

Columbus residents shared accolades and respect for long-time Columbus businessman Frank Anderson, who died at the age of 77.

The staff at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church learned of Anderson’s death Thursday morning, a spokeswoman said. Anderson’s health had been gradually deteriorating over the last few years, the Rev. Clem Davis said.

The owner of the former Frank Anderson Tire Co. at 23rd Street and Hawcreek Avenue — from 1971 until he sold it to Best-One Tire &Service in 2019 – was best known for his generosity, as well as the example he set for others, his friends said.

“Why don’t we all just spread a little Frank around amongst ourselves and do the right thing?” asked Dennis Brooks of Elizabethtown in a letter of tribute published in The Republic last January.

When Brooks was in his teens, Anderson refused to let him leave his shop with two dangerously worn tires on his car, the letter stated. Even though the high school student couldn’t afford them, Anderson replaced them anyway and allowed Brooks to pay him at a rate of $5 a week, he added.

For Brooks, who stated that his life was in turmoil at the time, Anderson’s kindness lifted his spirits and showed he cared more about the teen than himself. Brooks concluded the letter by thanking Anderson for being his friend.

A similar sentiment about Anderson was expressed by another successful Bartholomew County businessman.

“Frank was the kind of businessman we should all try to be,” Force Construction Co. Chairman and CEO Harold Force said.

When Anderson, a Peru native and his wife, Carol Ann, moved to Columbus to open their own Firestone Tire franchise in 1971, the couple understood what it took to successfully launch a new business, Force said.

“Frank became popular by building relationships with farmers, trucking companies and retailers,” Force said. “He also earned the respect of his customers, no matter who they were. Whatever burdens he may have been carrying on the personal side of his life, he remained upbeat, positive, driven and wanting to help. Not everybody can do that.”

During a public address in 1986, former Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Ed Wolking said “Frank Anderson is a man of few words, but he is a doer and a real people person.”

His children, Don and Rebecca, both attended Columbus East High School, graduating in 1991 and 1998, respectively. While their kids were students, Frank and Carol Ann were part of a group of parents nicknamed “The Blacksmiths” that assisted East athletics. But unlike many other parent volunteers, the Andersons kept showing up to help – long after their son and daughter earned their diplomas.

John Stafford, who was the school’s head football coach since its inception in 1972 until his retirement in 2000, recalls the couple as being extremely valuable to the program.

For example, Frank Anderson would set up and supervise video recording for Friday night football games – and then have the footage edited into offensive plays, defensive plays and special team plays from kickers, punters and long-snappers. His wife was one of his assistants in this endeavor, the former coach said.

Thanks to their efforts, the coach could see and analyze a Friday night’s football game the next day, Stafford said.

Without any public recognition, Anderson donated a golf cart to haul equipment between the school and football field, as well as a trailer to transport equipment to away games, the former coach said.

“Anything that could possibly be done to help us, Frank was willing to do it – and he did it without being asked,” Stafford said. “He wanted things done right and he was so generous about things like that.”

Outside of athletics, Frank Anderson would always be the first one to get involved in a fundraiser for a variety of school organizations at East, Stafford said.

Their efforts were recognized when the couple was named 2015 honorary inductees into the Columbus East Wall of Fame. The honor came posthumously for Carol Ann who died in Jan. 2011, at age 64 after a year-long illness.

In a 2019 interview, Anderson said he still grieved every day about the lost of his wife, who was not only his best friend, but also his business partner. Before her illness, she took care of all clerical matters for the company, he said.

At St. Bartholomew, Anderson would often be the first to show up for the 8 a.m. Sunday service, where he would usher parishioners to their seats, Davis said.

While the church’s senior associate described Anderson as an admirable man who was generous to a fault, family friend Brian Sweany said he also admired Anderson for his ability to recognize heart and generosity in other people.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Jewell Rittman Family Funeral Home.