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Bernard F. Anderson, retired IBM salesman and a genealogist, dies

Obit photo of Bernard F. Anderson
Obit photo of Bernard F. Anderson

Bernard F. Anderson, a retired award-winning IBM salesman who raised guide dog puppies and enjoyed researching his family’s genealogy, died Dec. 11 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville. The former Middletown and Bedford, New York, resident was 89.

“My husband said it best when he said my uncle was the ‘gold standard of decency,’ ” said Mary Kane Anderson Scholz, who lives in Ruxton. “He was a very curious man who was curious about everything and very, very kind.”

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Bernard Franklin Anderson, son of Joseph Lyman Anderson, a Pennsylvania Railroad telegrapher who later worked for AT&T as a telegraph technician, and his wife, Mary Adelaide Teipe, an AT& T telephone operator, was born one of three siblings in Texas, Baltimore County, and raised on Bosley Avenue in Towson.

“He was the baby of the family and spent his early years in a house on York Road in Cockeysville where the Corner Stable restaurant is now, and it had an outhouse,” Ms. Scholz said.

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Mr. Anderson was the 11th of 13 generations of his family to be born in Maryland. His family lineage dates to 1670, when William Anderson, an indentured servant, was brought to Anne Arundel County, 20 years after the Maryland General Assembly created Anne Arundel County, which was named for Anne Arundell, the wife of Cecilius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore.

Mr. Anderson’s grandfather and great-grandfather operated a blacksmith shop at the corner of York and Padonia roads from the mid-to-late 1800s, family members said.

He attended Immaculate Conception parochial school and graduated in 1948 from the old Towson Catholic High School, where he served as class president for four years and was valedictorian of his graduating class. He also played football, earning the nicknames “Ball Hawk” and “Touchdown Bernie,” and was named to the Maryland All-State first team.

Mr. Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in political economics from the Johns Hopkins University in 1952. After college, he enlisted in the Army and was sent to the Army Language School in Monterey, California, where he learned Mandarin Chinese and served with its Security Agency in Okinawa and Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, as an interpreter.

He was discharged in 1955 and remained a reservist until 1960.

In 1955, he began his career of more than three decades with IBM in Baltimore, where his accounts included the Maryland Casualty Insurance Co., Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. and The Baltimore Sun, family members said.

In 1965, he was transferred to New York City, where he worked in IBM’s insurance branch office on Madison Avenue. He later worked in its White Plains, New York, office.

“One of his largest customers was Reader’s Digest in Pleasantville, New York,” said a daughter, Regina Anderson of Johnson City, Tennessee, who said her father was assigned to the account for eight years.

He also traveled abroad for the company to Europe and was in Africa one time when a civil war erupted over apartheid and he was “one of the last people to leave,” Ms. Anderson said. “His family hadn’t heard from him for over 24 hours, not knowing if he had escaped.”

His final and favorite role at IBM began in 1984 when he went to work for the Advanced Business Institute, providing executive-level training working jointly with professors from Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Virginia.

He received 13 Hundred Percent Club and two Golden Circle awards from IBM for his work.

After retiring in 1988, Mr. Anderson taught management of information technology in the executive MBA programs for Pace University and Marymount College in New York City.

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While living in Bedford, New York, Mr. Anderson and his wife, the former Mary Anne O’Brien, whom he married in 1956, raised guide dog puppies for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

“They raised the puppies for a year and then they went back to Guiding Eyes for the Blind,” Ms. Anderson said. “One of their puppies went to a woman in Tel Aviv, and they became lifelong friends.”

The couple was also well-known for their many themed parties, including at Halloween and hosting Christmas carolers on the Bedford Village Green. Mr. Anderson was also active with Boy Scout Troop 1 in Pound Ridge, New York.

“When they were in Bedford, they took in children during summers whose parents were incarcerated at a prison nearby, so they could have an outdoor experience in a rural area,” Ms. Scholz said.

He was an active communicant for 28 years of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Bedford.

In 1993, Mr. Anderson moved to Middletown, Frederick County, where he became a founder and active member of Holy Family Catholic Community.

He and his wife moved to Lutherville in 2001, where they lived until settling at Broadmead in 2011, where he served on the audiovisual committee, chaired the buildings and grounds committee, and wrote articles for the Broadmead Voice, the retirement community’s newspaper.

“He was in his 80s when he took computer courses at Broadmead,” his niece said. “He was very popular, and he became curious about everybody he met there and their lives.”

Other interests included playing golf, dancing, skiing, gardening and following environmental issues. His genealogical research conducted over 30 years yielded more than 800 relatives.

Mr. Anderson enjoyed vacationing in the Adirondacks at Raquette Lake, New York.

When his wife became ill and required dialysis, he learned the procedure and “gave her the best care,” his niece said.

His wife died in 2006 after nearly 50 years of marriage.

In November 2006, he married the former Catherine Ashby “Kitty” Ebeling, a widow, who had been married for nearly 50 years as well. The two were school sweethearts, having attended grammar school and Towson Catholic High School together.

The couple, who were communicants of the Carmelite Monastery in Towson, married there.

I recent years Mr. Anderson suffered from poor vision, serious breathing problems and cancer, his niece said.

“But he never complained,” Ms. Scholz said. “He’d say, ‘It’s a challenge, but I’m learning how to adjust.’ ”

Services were private.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by three sons, Ken Anderson of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, Tim Anderson of Cornelius, North Carolina, and Don Anderson of Everett, Washington; another daughter, Margaret Ann Connors of Morristown, New Jersey; three stepdaughters, Marta Noe of Pylesville, Daryl Lancaster of Lincoln Park, New Jersey, and Tammy Feuer of New Paltz, New York; 17 grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and many nieces and nephews.

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