Beloved Chemical Engineering Professor Emeritus, Associate Dean Frank Abel Anderson Dies at 98

July 2012 By

OXFORD, Miss. - Frank Abel Anderson, 98, associate dean emeritus of the University of Mississippi School of Engineering and professor emeritus of chemical engineering, died Monday (July 23) at Azalea Gardens in Oxford.

Waller Funeral Home of Oxford is in charge of arrangements.

Credited with singlehandedly establishing the department of chemical engineering at UM, Anderson was a beloved mentor, instructor, colleague and friend whose life impacted lives from the classroom to the Lyceum and beyond. The Frank A. Anderson Hall in UM's School of Engineering is named after him.

His positive influence is being remembered by many of his Ole Miss friends and supporters.

"We're extremely sad that Dr. Anderson, founder of the chemical engineering department and mentor to many generations of students passed away," said Alexander Cheng, dean of the engineering school.

"To speak on behalf of the department of chemical engineering, we here at Ole Miss take great comfort in reflecting on Dr. Anderson's wonderful contributions to all our lives," said Clint Williford, chair and professor of chemical engineering.

Anderson joined the UM faculty as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1940. During his 39-year tenure at the university, he served served as professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, chairman of the departments of chemistry and chemical engineering and associate dean of engineering. Anderson's administrative ability was equal to his scholarship and research, officials said.

"During my years at Ole Miss, I have not known a more respected and loved person than Frank Anderson," said Robert C. Khayat, UM chancellor emeritus. "He was always positive but honest about our challenges. He accepted a wide variety of responsibilities over the years and established lasting relationships with his students and faculty.

Khayat served with Anderson on the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

"I was there when he suggested the L-O-U slogan for Lafayette-Oxford-University initiatives," Khayat said. "Through the years, that acronym has been widely utilized and reflects his spirit of cooperation and collaboration. He and his wife, Mary, were pillars of this community and the Oxford-University Methodist Church. He'll be remembered as one of the giants in the history of Ole Miss."

Russell E. Aven, a former student and colleague of Anderson's, remembered him as "one of the finest teachers I've ever known." Returning to the university to teach in 1956, Aven worked with Anderson until the latter's retirement in 1979.

"Frank was not only an outstanding teacher, but also a great individual," Aven said.

Samuel Deleeuw, chair emeritus and professor emeritus of civil engineering, remembered Anderson as "a gracious and nice man" who influenced his decision to come to the university.

"He was such a steadfast man who was exceptionally good to his students," Deleeuw said. "He always acted like a friend. If I ever had a problem, he would listen and share his wisdom."

Younger faculty also expressed a high regard for Anderson.

"Dr. Anderson was by all accounts an outstanding teacher and mentor for students here," said Peter Sukanek, professor of chemical engineering. "He could explain complex things in simple terms for others to understand. He was one of those very rare teachers who was demanding of his students, yet one who was universally loved by them. All engineering alumni have a great deal of affection and respect for him. He was truly a scholar and a gentleman."

Anderson was the second professor to receive the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award and the first recipient of the Ole Miss Engineer of Distinction Award. In 1974, the chemical engineering building was named after him - a testament to his high regard among alumni.

Anderson contributed much to the local community both before and after his retirement. He was a member and on the administrative board at Oxford-University Methodist Church and served as president of the Rotary Club.

"I remember 'Mr. Frank' as the wonderful, sweet man who would teach science lessons to 4-year-olds at First Baptist Church during their pre-school education program during the week," said Marni Kendricks, assistant dean of the engineering school. "His wife, 'Mrs. Mary,' would play the piano as well. They lived near the church and would just come down and give great lessons to the children. My daughter, Mary Charles, absolutely loved him. To this day, science is her favorite subject, and I believe he played a very big part in that."

Born in Bridgeport, Conn., Anderson received his associate of arts degree from the Junior College of Connecticut in 1934. In 1936, he earned a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the University of Southern California. He went on to receive a master's degree from the University of Maine and a doctorate from Louisiana State University in 1940 and 1947, respectively.

Anderson's numerous professional memberships and honors included Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, former president of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, representative to the Council of the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies and board of directors of Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

Anderson's wife of 69 years, Mary Allie Courtney Anderson, died in March. He is survived by a daughter, Phyllis Anderson Ambrosiani and her husband, Bjorn, of Stockholm, Sweden; a son, Frank Andrew Anderson and his wife, Karen, of Bolingbrook, Ill.; a grandson, David Andrew Anderson; a granddaughter, Lisa Courtney Anderson Reid and her husband, Jason, of Oxford; and two great-grandchildren, Kylie Reid and Courtney Jaye Reid.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Frank Abel Anderson Engineering Endowment, or Mary Courtney Anderson Piano Scholarship Endowment, c/o the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677 or a charity of the donor's choice.