Samuel D. Anderson, a 50 year resident of Newport Beach, CA, died at the age of 86 on April 6th of complications from lung cancer. A loving father and grandfather, a devoted husband, and a passionate philanthropist, Sam was a native of rural Mississippi. His early years were spent with his parents, R.C. and Ella Wayne Tillson Anderson, as they worked as sharecroppers. His life challenges began early at age 9, when his mother and her still-born son died in childbirth. His father later married Eunice and fathered three daughters, Melba, Dolly, and Lynn. Into his teenage years, Sam lived with various family members. A pivotal experience was playing football for Magee High School.
When his maternal grandparents paid for his tuition, he was able to continue his passion for football at Mississippi College, in nearby Clinton. Their commitment to his education would prove to be a gift for the remainder of his life. Sam was elected student body vice president. In football, he earned Little All American honor as a fullback. Due to his short stature and hard hitting style, he was dubbed Squatrock, a nickname he wore with pride all his life. He graduated with a degree in chemistry. On his first day on campus, he met a classmate, Mary Ann Holland. Their courtship resulted in marriage on August 23, 1959, in her hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. They had two children, Samuel D. Anderson, Jr. (Kathryn Mann) and Ann Arledge Anderson (Jim Stevenson).
Sam’s deep faith, concern for his fellowman, and desire to make the world a better place were cornerstones of his being. All of these were exemplified as he was educated, matured and accepted increasing responsibilities in the business world.
Sam’s entrepreneurial skills showed early, and he ultimately left medical school to enter the corporate world of pharmaceuticals, specifically Baxter Laboratories and later Hyland Laboratories, which ultimately involved a move to Southern California in 1970. Once there, Sam became intrigued with the local real estate market and made several investments in residential income properties. But Sam never forgot where he came from – he named his memoir “From the Cotton Patch to High Cotton” – and invested in apartment complexes in his home state.
Sam lost Mary Ann to cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2000. Sam often said how fortunate he was to have had such a good marriage to Mary Ann. He never expected that it would happen again until, at the urging of his children, Sam asked out local acquaintance Susan Smith Jenkins. In a wonderful turn of events, Sam and Susan fell in love and married in December of 2001. Their lives fit beautifully together, and they embraced each other’s families as their own. Sam called her his best friend, and the two enjoyed years of travel. Sam loved his family and over the years as grandchildren arrived, he cherished their times together.
He always had a love of travel. His fascination with the Civil War had begun in a class he had taken at Mississippi College and he enjoyed nothing better than taking family and friends on tours to Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and Richmond. Always devout, he continued to support programs for the underprivileged, serving as a board member on Goodwill of Orange County and the Orange County Community Foundation and in early leadership with Think Together. Ever supportive of Mississippi College, Sam was a founding member of the school’s foundation board. The college has honored him with the Order of the Golden Arrow, an honorary doctorate, Alumnus of the Year, and Chemistry Alumnus of the Year.
He is remembered by his family for his work ethic, his moral backbone, his intelligence, his kindness, his pride in his children and grandchildren, his keen sense of humor, his love of classical music, and most importantly, mentoring others and helping them achieve their dreams.
In addition to his wife, son, and daughter, Sam leaves a stepdaughter, Dana O’Donnell, and granddaughters Ella Stevenson, Collette Anderson, and grandsons Fletcher Anderson, J.D. O’Donnell, and Christian Craig O’Donnell.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to Mississippi College Department of Development, Box 4001, Clinton, MS 39058; Pacific Symphony 17620 Fitch Ave, Suite 100, Irvine CA 92614 Attn: Gregory Cox; or Think Together 2101 E 4th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92705.
A memorial service was held on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 2p.m. at St. Mark Presbyterian Church, 2200 San Joaquin Hills Road, Newport Beach, CA. A reception was held at the Anderson residence following the service. The service was livestreamed on Youtube https://youtu.be/W2Y7O4Wiwss . The Livestream will remain available for two months