Bob Anderson, who served and promoted the city of South Charleston for more than half a century, most prominently as the executive director of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, died Saturday afternoon at the age of 75.
Anderson started Summerfest, South Charleston’s five-day music festival; ran the annual Christmas parade; and was instrumental in projects such as Little Creek Park and the city’s purchase of the LaBelle Theatre.
South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens had known Anderson for more than 30 years.
“Bob is going to be dearly missed. He was a big part of our community and a big part of our city government,” Mullens said. “I’ll miss him as a peer, but I’m also going to miss him as a friend.”
Mullens said he thinks they bonded because they both have a passion for South Charleston.
“I hope that everyone understands the passion Bob had for the community. He always tried to portray South Charleston in a positive light,” Mullens said. “I think that’s what people should remember is that Bob had that special passion for a community.”
Sharen Sumpter Deitz, former board chairwoman for the South Charleston CVB, agreed Anderson’s dedication to the city was unmatched.
“He was just very devoted to South Charleston, and nobody could sell South Charleston like he could,” she said. “He was always dedicated to getting sponsors for events so they could be free or cost very little, making it affordable for the general public.”
Anderson was a 1963 graduate of South Charleston High School and a 1969 graduate of North Carolina State University. In 1971, he earned his recreation certificate from University of Georgia, and in 1975, a Bachelor of Science in Education from West Virginia State University.
During his long career, Anderson was an administrative assistant and administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources. In South Charleston, he was the city’s recreation director and, most recently, as the CVB’s executive director. He retired this past winter, but it wasn’t his first retirement.
Anderson initially planned to retire in 1988. He didn’t plan to go back to work, until he received a call from Mayor Richie Robb. Robb wanted Anderson to run the Christmas parade, and he agreed to do it. After the parade, he became the city’s CVB director.
When Anderson retired for the final time in 2018, he started creating scrapbooks documenting the history of South Charleston when he worked as the city’s recreation director more than half a century ago, in 1965. He had hundreds of boxes he was sifting through with newspaper clippings going back as far as 70 years ago.
Anderson, during a November interview, told the Gazette-Mail he felt fortunate he was able to witness the city’s history.
“I really enjoyed my career. I wish I had it to do all over,” Anderson said. “South Charleston has come a long way, and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
Anderson was preceded in death by his parents, Junior and Dottie Anderson, and his first wife, Gracelyn Anderson. Survivors include his wife, Treisa; children, Robbie, Paul and Richard Anderson; and several grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday at Snodgrass Funeral Home in South Charleston. Visitation is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, and for one hour before Thursday’s service.