Robert's Story

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ROCKPORT, MA: Bob Anderson died peacefully at home on January 18, after a long illness. Born in Chicago, he was the youngest of four children of Ivan George Anderson and Lillian Knaus Anderson. An artist from birth, Bob studied at the Art Institute of Chicago after high school. In 1957, while still a student, he won the Logan Art Institute Prize, and with his prize money he traveled to the Yucatan, where he lived with a Mayan family. His next travels were in Europe as a peacetime U.S. Army draftee. After military service he lived and painted in various lofts in Chicago, where his friends jokingly referred to him as the Swedish carpenter, because of his meticulous attention to detail.

In 1961, while designing exhibits for the botany department at the Field Museum of Natural History, Bob met Peg Archibald, who was working at the museum as part of her Antioch College work-study program. They married that same year, and Peg transferred to the University of Chicago. In 1964, they moved to a brownstone in New York’s East Village, where their daughter, Meredith, was born. In 1969, they found their way to Rockport, buying a piece of land in Pigeon Cove that included the granite foundation of Edmunds Hall, once a meeting place for quarry workers. Bob then called upon his Swedish carpentry skills to build the house that he and his family lived in ever since. Nicholas, born in 1971, was familiar with the sounds of hammers and saws from his earliest days.

Bob continued to find time to paint while working as a carpenter on Cape Ann and raising a family. His skills as a craftsman in wood can be seen in buildings in Gloucester’s West End and in many private houses on Cape Ann. He exhibited his paintings and sculptures at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Contemporary Art Workshop in Chicago, the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, the Orphanos Gallery in Boston, Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, the School Street Gallery in Rockport, the West End and Acacia galleries in Gloucester, and, most recently, the Flatrocks Gallery in Lanesville.

Bob was predeceased by his brother, Ivan; his sister, Kay; and his brother-in-law, Herb Levin. He is survived by his wife, Peg; by his son, Nick, daughter-in-law, Kate Shanks, and their children, Felix and Margot; by his daughter, Meredith, son in-law, Mark Williamson, and their children, Jasper and Ivan; by his brother, Ted Anderson, nephews, Jim, Bill, and Eric Anderson, and niece Karen Helms; and his brother-in-law, Frank Nichols and nephews, Jeff and Randy Nichols and niece, Sally Maydew; bob’s in-laws, David Archibald and Marion Phipps; Janet Levin and nieces, Pam and Katie Levin and nephew, Jim; and Larry Archibald and Laura Chancellor and niece, Rachel, were very dear to him; as were his Spanish “daughter,” Esther Ramos, her husband, Carlos Ocaña, and their son, Jorge.

Bob’s friends will remember his twinkling blue-green eyes, mischievous sense of humor, great enjoyment of parties (preferably with herring, cheese, and gin and tonics), his willingness to charge into political arguments, his superb apple pies, and the beautiful home that he and his wife filled with family, friends, and art for more than 40 years.

A celebration of Bob’s life will be held in May. Donations in his memory may be made to the Cape Ann Animal Aid Society, 4 Paws Lane, Gloucester; Open Door, 26 Emerson Avenue, Gloucester; VNA Care Network, 8 Angle Street, Gloucester; or the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant Street, Gloucester.
Published on  January 25, 2016
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