Pastors' Memoirs

Marshall W. Anderson, Sr., 1912-2002

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Marshall moved from Illinois in 1916 with his Swedish parents and siblings to start a dairy farm in Amelia County, Virginia. His parents and grandparents had left Sweden during the potato famine of the 1880s and, on arriving in the United States, consciously decided to adopt the American life in culture, religion, and language. By the time Marshall was born, his parents had run out of American names and decided to name Marshall after the elected President and Vice President of the 1912 national elections, thus the name Marshall Wilson given two months after birth. To date, the name Marshall Wilson Anderson is in its fourth generation.

Marshall was an important contributor to the success of the Anderson Farm. Despite the long days of early morning and late evening milkings, of corn planting, hoeing and harvesting, and of general farm chores, he found time for school, sports (legend has it he had a "wicked" knuckleball), siblings, friends, and fishing. Marshall was graduated from Lynchburg College in 1936 with a B.S. in Divinity. He attended Vanderbilt University for a brief period but was called back to the farm because of his dad’s illness. Shortly after his dad’s death, he married his lifelong soul mate, Margaret Rachael Adams, on December 23, 1937. During this period of managing the farm and working odd jobs, he was strongly influenced by the Methodist minister in Jetersville, the Rev. Otis Gilliam. In October 1939, Marshall took his first charge in Ashland of the Richmond District. The wife of the first couple he married, Ruth Stanley, still plays the organ at Forest Grove and attended his memorial service.

Marshall’s love of rural life lasted until his death — years of gardening, wild berry picking, apple butter, sorghum molasses, and Brunswick stew making, and country revival preaching. He always chose a rural charge over any other; of 50 years in the ministry, he spent 46 in a rural setting. Marshall served 44 churches. He was named Rural Minister of the Year in the Virginia United Methodist Conference in 1971-72; organized the Lord’s Acre program for Franklin County; and served on the Board of Directors of the Southeastern District of the Hinton Rural Life Ministries. Also, he served as president of the Roanoke TBA, was assistant chaplain at numerous hospitals including Roanoke Memorial, UVA Medical Center, and Johnston-Willis (Richmond), and was industrial chaplain for many companies. Despite his busy schedule, he always found time for his wife, his boys, and later his grandchildren. Almost countless were the football, basketball and baseball games he attended. In a heartfelt note that Margaret received after Marshall’s memorial service from Mildred Lambdin, the wife of Kenneth Lambdin Jr. a former United Methodist minister, she kindly wrote: "He [Marshall] was always himself, poised, never affected or superficial. He left you a wonderful heritage — now [he] has his best appointment ever."

Surviving Marshall is a beloved wife of 64 years, Margaret Adams Anderson; three sons, Dr. Marshall W. Anderson Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. E. Carey Anderson of Oakland, N.J., and John E. Anderson of Lexington, S.C.; five grandchildren, Melissa Cooper of Sanford, N.C., Dr. Marshall W. Anderson III, of Burlington, N.C., Shaun Anderson of Nashville, Tenn., C. Scott Anderson of Washington, D.C., and Kara Lee Pfau of Atlanta, Ga.; two great-grandchildren, Marshall W. Anderson IV, and Caroline Anderson of Burlington, N.C.; a last surviving sibling, Virginia Call of Richmond, Va.; 13 nieces and nephews; a loving caregiver in late years, Polly Ripley; and countless parishioners and dear friends.

— Margaret Adams Anderson



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