James Thomas “J.T.” Anderson was born January 3, 1929 in Fayetteville, Arkansas to John Francis Anderson and Susan Johnson Anderson, both of Madison County, Arkansas. He died Saturday, August 28, 2010, at his home, of natural causes at age 81.
When J.T. was 10 years old, the family moved to Prague, Oklahoma where his dad was employed by Griffin Grocery Company. During his school years at Prague, J.T. excelled academically and in all sports. He was awarded a football scholarship to Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University). He also participated in track and field, holding a broad-jump record that held for many years.
He graduated in 1950 with a degree in Business Administration with emphasis on Economics and Marketing.
In 1946, his parents moved to Muskogee, purchasing what was then Ellis Distributing Company, and started the family owned business, in a fifty-foot street-front building at 114 Callahan Street. The business opened with an inventory of $8500 and two employees. J.T.’s younger brother, John F. Anderson Jr., joined the management of the company following his schooling at Oklahoma Christian College, Bartlesville, now in Oklahoma City.
They operated there in additional storefronts and garage space with 63 employees until building a new 100,000 square foot warehouse and office facilities at 2211 West Shawnee in 1961. A special section of the Sunday Phoenix and Times-Democrat was printed to mark the occasion of their opening.
A service-merchandising operation, they sold and delivered health and beauty aids, sundries, housewares, and automotive items to grocery and convenience stores. When the business closed in 2007, it employed 200 people.
Participating in non-foods industry associations for many years, J.T. was elected to and served on the national boards of Service Merchandisers of America and Toiletry Merchandisers of America Associations, holding all the offices including Chairman of the Board during several terms. The groups later merged to become the National Association of Service Merchandisers.
Locally, he served on the Advisory Board of Commercial National Bank and Trust Company, Board of Directors of Muskogee Country Club, and was appointed by the City Council to the Board of Directors of Muskogee General Hospital. He served for 14 years, much of the time as Treasurer, and twice as Chairman of the Board.
An avid and low-handicap golfer, he played regularly with a group of long time friends until suffering a stroke in 1994. He enjoyed fishing with his brother and other family members, as well as a group of buddies who traveled to Mexico and other places to fish and play golf. He loved and supported all things Orange and Black and OSU.
J.T. became a member of the Church of Christ at an early age, and was an outstanding Bible School teacher. He served as a deacon at the West Side congregation of the Church of Christ and as an elder and the Chandler Road and Muskogee Church of Christ congregations. At the request of come of his younger Students, he became licensed to perform marriage ceremonies, and officiated at numerous weddings..
Memorial services and a celebration of his life will be held Friday, September 3 at 2 p.m. at Muskogee Church of Christ, 3206 North York (Okay Road). Officiating will be Dr. Randy Willingham of Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas; Kevin Stewart, minister of Muskogee Church of Christ, and remarks from several close friends.
In 1994, J.T. lost his brother, Johnny, his mother, and his dad.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Barbara (Lightle) Anderson, sons Mark Anderson and his wife, DeAnn; Mike and his wife Kay; grandson, Blake and his wife, Chelsie of Muskogee; granddaughter, Whitney, a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond. Great-grandchildren, Tatum and Maddox.; sister-in-law, Mrs. John F. Anderson Jr. (Anne); nephew, Brent Anderson (Mea), nieces Mrs. Craig Endicott (Gaylyn); all of Muskogee, and Mrs. Bobby Mahan (Janet) of Wagoner.
J.T. was especially close to Barbara’s family who lovingly helped care for and support him in recent weeks. They include Barbara’s brother, Joe, his wife Thelma, and their children, Lauren and Jason; her sister Linda, and her husband, Gordon McDaniel of Tulsa; nieces Mrs. Robert Gaddy (Jennifer), Mrs. Roger Whittiker (Jan), Mrs. Scott Robinson (Julie) all of Muskogee; and Jill Lightle of Inola.
The staffs of Muskogee Community Hospital, Broadway Nursing Manor, Good Neighbor Hospice and Dr. Paul Hobbs gave invaluable aid to the family. Services will be provided by Cornerstone Funeral Home and Crematory.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be sent to J.T.’s favorite charity Aid to Children Fund at P.O. Box 69, Muskogee, Ok 74402.