Family Tribute:A TRIBUTE TO Kermit Charles Anderson
November 20, 1943 -- September 11, 2001
WHO HE WAS AND WHAT HE MEANT TO US
Kermit Charles Anderson was born in Wilkinsburg, PA, on November 20, 1943. He graduated from Verona High School (located near Pittsburgh) in 1961 and Pennsylvania State University in 1965. Kermit and Jill met in Penn State’s West Halls in 1962 and were married on August 14, 1965. They lived together in New Jersey for the last 36 years. Kermit spent his entire adult work life with Marsh & McLennan Companies, and he was appointed a Vice President of Marsh in May of 2000.
Kermit was a loving and devoted husband, a wonderful father, and a kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a charming smile and a good sense of humor and was liked by everyone that knew him.
Kermit was an avid Penn State football fan and loved to visit parks to enjoy nature and hiking. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen for 29 years and served as an elder and financial recording secretary for many of those years.
Surviving are his wife of 36 years, Jill; his older daughter and her husband, Barbara and Edward Werner, of Tucson, Arizona; his younger daughter and her husband, Deborah Anderson and John Cheslock, of Tucson, Arizona; two grandsons, William Frederick Werner and Noah Charles Werner; one sister, Selma Verse, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Family members may be contacted at the following email addresses.
Jill G. Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara L. Werner email@example.com
Deborah J. Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org
Selma A. Verse email@example.com
Reflections of Kermit Anderson
Elaine Homola for Marsh colleagues
See also http://members.aol.com/arcyc/kca.htm
As many of you here today, I have had the pleasure and honor of calling Kermit a loyal friend, mentor and colleague. Kermit was the ultimate professional. He lived by his own code of honor, and he never wavered from what he thought was the right thing to do both personally and professionally.
I first met Kermit 15 years ago when I joined Marsh. At the time, Kermit had a reputation with our department for being the quiet, steady influence-the person you would count on to get things done. As I recall those early days, I can see Kermit sitting in our cafeteria with Brad and Steve and many others. We all knew that although there was a lot of laughter coming from their table, a lot of work was also being done as well. This was a ritual that later on Roberta and I would sometimes crash!
I called Kermit a mentor. He would take those of under his wing that he felt needed encouragement. One example that I would like to share with you today is when I was first trying to decided to make a move within Marsh to do something called Data Management - don’t worry if you don’t know what this is--it’s a topic that even today most people never quite understand. Kermit did.
As I sat at his desk while he explained the concept and drew me pictures of data flows-something we would do frequently in the coming years, I looked him in the eye and said you must be kidding if you think I can do all that. He told me to take the job, I would be good at it, and he never stopped providing the support, drawing the pictures and keeping me on the straight "data course!" Several months ago he rejoined our project team, and I had the privilege of explaining data to him and bringing him up to speed. We had a good laugh over the switch.
What he did for me, I know as I have spoken to many in the organization, he did for others. Many a time I would sit at his desk and you could not help but overhear the conversations around you and some new team member that seemed to be going astray-I would look at Kermit roll my eyes at him and say "aren’t you going to straighten them out?" He would smile and say "yea, later" or "I will" or "Happiness Is" - his most favorite expression--but you knew he would make the subtle comments later on to the person and get them back on track.
He was someone you wanted in a meeting especially if the topic was complex. His way of asking a question, could lead you to think of a hundred different things and more questions-something I personally spend a lot of time doing when trying to work something out--he always told me never stop asking-it would mean you have stopped thinking.
As a friend, he would call and check in. I, as many others, spoke to him nearly every day and believe me we always took a break from the day’s business to check in on the family and what was going on at home. That means we knew about any upcoming vacations, such as his trips to Arizona, Canada or his more resent trip to Europe. In addition, during football season, we checked in on his weekend trips to Pennsylvania.
We were all waiting for the birth of his first grandchild and looking forward to his second. He proudly showed off the baby pictures, and they were prominently displayed on his desk.
Edward H. Chapin said " A true man never frets about his place in the world, but just slides into it by gravitation of his nature, and swings there as easily as a star."
Kermit, you never worried about where your place was for your 36 years at Marsh, and went wherever you were needed most. You always gave 110% and set a wonderful example for so many of us. May your star shine brightly in the sky above us and guide us all along our way. And may God bless your family, our other missing friends and colleagues and our country.
Robert Cifelli, for the church
I’d like to start by asking you a question. How many know another person named Kermit? Having the name Kermit was one of the things that made him unique. Now the key word was person, notice I didn’t say Muppet or frog named Kermit. Kermit took a lot of good-natured kidding about Kermit the Frog.
I tried to remember how Kermit and I became friends. The Anderson’s and the Cifelli’s reside in Green Brook and our son Bruce and the Anderson girls and Edward Werner, Barbara’s husband, were classmates. They attended the church’s youth fellowship, developed friendships, many of which continue to this day even though considerable miles separate them.
For many years Kermit and I commuted to work together on the railroad out of the Dunellen station. We often saw Inge Hartmann, Ned Halteman and Al Kappelmann.
We served together on church groups. Most will remember that Kermit and Jill have served for many years as the church’s Financial Secretaries. Kermit also served on the Session as an Elder, was very active on the Christian Education Commission with Rev. Alan Ruscito and served as Sunday School Superintendent. You probably don’t know that Kermit served with me as a Trustee and as Vice President of the Harris Memorial Fund. This fund was set up by the Harris relatives to help support church development.
I believe our friendship grew and matured when we were members of the church’s bowling team. Kermit was the team captain and served the Bound Brook Church League as Vice President and President. At the time the league was the oldest sanctioned league in the United States. Kermit was not just a good bowler but he led the league in average several times.
We also golfed together and had a regular foursome on Saturday mornings. Kermit volunteered to get our foursome their tee times. In those days it was first come first served. That meant Kermit would get to the Warrenbrook Golf Course at 7 AM and would put us on the board for an early tee time. But as golf became more popular that 7 AM became 6:30, then 6:00, then 5:30 and finally 5 AM. And Kermit never complained about getting up early which made the other three in the foursome very happy. That was the kind of guy he was.
He loved sports and followed his Penn State teams and for the past several years he and Jill have had season football tickets. They traveled back to State College for home games and they loved it. Kermit and I also went to many Giant football games together.
Kermit was a nice man. A quiet man, polite and courteous. He was an athlete and a sports lover. He worked well and could be counted to not only do an excellent job but to have it done efficiently and on time. He was intelligent and he stood his ground when there was something he believed in. We have had some intensified discussions in church and social workings but I could always count on a respectful and courteous outcome. You could disagree and after the discussion be assured you were still good friends. As I told his daughter Debbie, he was one of the really good guys.
Kermit was a devoted grandfather and father who basked in the accomplishments of his daughters whether the accomplishments were athletic, academic, or personal. He was a devoted husband to his best friend Jill. He loved and supported his church, loved his God, and was a very good friend. I pray that Jill and her family will have the peace, comfort, and love of our Lord, and I know how much they miss him and I miss him too.
Judy Westlin, for friends
Kermit was a quiet man with a quiet strength. He was kind and caring and he exemplified all that is good about America.
Jill and Kermit had a deep and abiding love. Kermit loved Jill above all else. They were that rare couple who had a very special relationship and a profound connection to one another. It started with "love at first sight" at Penn State and it grew in strength and commitment throughout the 36 years that they were married.
Out of that love they created the family to whom they were completely devoted. They cherished and nurtured Barbara and Debbie. Kermit was so proud of his daughters, of the fine young women that they had become and of all of their many accomplishments. We will all remember his proud, wonderful smile as he walked each of them down the aisle, glowing with love and caring. We will remember the way he looked tenderly at Jill as they danced at each of the weddings. And he and Jill were blessed that they were able to share that special love that happens when you become a grandparent. Kermit was proud to be Will’s Grandpa.
Jill and Kermit were the best friends anyone could have. We always knew they were there for us to share our happy times and to support us in times of need. We shared so much with them. They were the perfect hosts at Penn State football games. Kermit grilling hot dogs and hamburgers with his great smile and his sociability with friends that he loved; Kermit looking after my husband, Bill, when he had knee surgery; Kermit and his quiet response to all of Jill’s orders (and we all know Jill is a pro at giving orders).
Little things tell a lot about love. Jill made a decision not to work full time so she could be there when Kermit came home from work, have dinner for him, and spend the evenings with him. She even moved the couch to the other side of the room because she wanted to sit next to him when they watched television. Kermit showed his love with his quiet, attentive and caring support for Jill at all times and even more so when her mother was terminally ill. They were still in love on September 11th after 36 years.
Jill and Kermit and Judy and Bill had many great adventures together. We will miss Kermit terribly. Kermit will be greatly missed.
Cathy Rein, for the family
Jill has given me the honor of Speaking for the Family as we all remember how much our Lives Were Enriched by sharing them with Kerm. I get to be part of the family because Jill and Kerm and I know each other longer than almost anyone else but our relatives. We grew up together, learned a lot from each other, shared many good times and some bad ones, and best of all could just be ourselves when we spent time together.
It is hard to put in a few words the reasons why the family and I have so much to celebrate because of Kerm’s life. Some of us feel what we want to say is just too personal. But let me begin with the help of Barbara who wrote this to her Dad.
"like the frog" we would say
when asked his name
and they would smile
or stare in disbelief
the strong silent type
and sure of himself
i remember visiting his work
the freezing cold room
the large punch card machine
the terminal where you could talk to Chicago
he was so proud
and then we went ice skating
in Rockefeller Center
we played games
went to church
as a family
he may have disagreed with our decisions
but he let us choose
most of the time
offering advice only if asked
or as food for thought our last conversation
about my upcoming baby
how uncomfortable I was
he told me to hang in there
that it would be worth the wait
and it was.
that support and compassion
says it all
his wide smile
his laughing eyes
a gentle embrace
how proud he was
how much he loved us
and how I love him
And Deb’s thoughts reinforce how great a Dad Kerm was.
I can’t quite remember the last time Dad and I spoke. I’m not sure exactly when it was, or what we talked about. But I do know we ended our conversation, as always, by saying "I love you" to each other. I guess that really says it all.
I, too, have known Kerm for most of my life and he never changed. He was quiet, a man of few words, but he didn’t need to talk a lot because he lived his beliefs. You knew what he stood for and you could count on his warmth, his honesty, his generosity, and on his being there for you in good or bad times. When he came to my house or opened the door to let me into his and Jill’s home - I felt welcome and comfortable. Whether we talked about the Nittany Lions (as we often did) or the girls (which we always did) or Jill’s latest worry (which he listened to with the characteristic twinkle in his eye), Kerm’s contribution was considered and meaningful.
Family, of course, was his number one Priority. He and Jill were truly blessed in finding each other so early in their lives so that they could build all of their values and dreams together. They were good for each other. They influenced each other positively. And they were happy with each other, which made them fun to be around.
I can never remember a time they weren’t planning and working and saving for a home and children. And once again they were blessed. Nothing raised a smile with Kerm faster than talking about Barb and Debbie. He was justly proud of their beauty, their brains, and their independence.
But Kerm believed not just in his immediate Family - he believed in the value of Family to us all. He was concerned and interested and proud of Selma and her family and felt the same way about Jack and his family.
He made the effort to go to graduations and weddings and visits at the beach - not out of a sense of responsibility but with pleasure in being part of the lives of both the Anderson and Grashof Clans. His nieces and nephews enjoyed his teasing, his helping hand, his being there for the special events in their lives and his pride in their accomplishments. Everyone should have an Uncle Kerm. His sister Selma remembers her big brother as always a winner - both as a child and in his family life.
He was involved in the Whole Family. And they all cared about him, you can see the strong bond in these words from Joan and Jack (Jill’s brother).
A pillar of strength:
calm, deliberate, gentle,
kind, loving, Kermit.
I also remember what a good son he was to both his and Jill’s parents and his genuine affection for them as he reminisced about the good times they had together. When Jill needed to be with her Mom in her last illness, Kerm supported Jill 150% because he, too, believed Jill’s place was to be with her mother.
Kerm was a happy man. He and Jill built a life and family and passed their values into the future. As they reached their 50’s and looked at what their love for each other had created - they have a lot to feel pleased about.
E.J. (Kermit’s son-in-law) sums up in his letter Kerm’s continuing influence
in his children’s lives.
As I mourn our loss, I also rejoice in your life. There is no small solace in the fact that you were doing exactly what you believed you should be. I have known few men who so knew their own heart, set their sails so deftly, and followed through so surely. You set your tasks before you and set to with a will. The character exposed by those tasks is pure gold: more than an honest day’s work, a compassionate ear to your co-workers, a model friend, son, husband, father, and grandfather, and perhaps above all, the calm in the storm and peacemaker to all who know you.
We won’t see each other again in this lifetime, but I can feel your presence still. Each time I try harder to be a better father, son, or husband, I will be following your example. Each time I face hardship, the memory of you pushing on to over 9000 feet on the Stanley Canyon trail will encourage me. And when I lose faith, I will rest on yours. Your memory lifts me and makes me better than I was.
Looking at his life I believe Kerm was content.
He had a loving wife he really enjoyed being with.
He watched both his daughters find their own loves and carry his values and belief in family into the next generation - each in their own special, unique way. And he genuinely cared for and liked their husbands.
He got to see his first grandchild and was looking forward to more. Nothing could light up his eyes brighter.
Penn State did let him down this year but he had faith for the future.
Now, I’d like to end this Reflection with some thoughts from Jill.
It is difficult for me to find all the right words to describe our relationship and our marriage of 36 years. As Debbie told a Red Cross volunteer last week, we just "were". He was my best friend and my life partner.
When I first met Kermit in September of 1962 at Penn State, he was a quiet, strong young man with a magnetic smile who was a great fan of Penn State sports. As I grew to know and understand him, I was certain that he was someone I could be with for the rest of my life. We married shortly after graduating from Penn State. The only thing that changed over the years was his age.
As a husband, Kermit was everything a woman could want and a perfect match for me. He always put me first in his life; he was kind, considerate, faithful, always gentle, always smiling, ready to encourage me when I needed encouragement, yet able to hold me back when necessary (which seemed to be often, I think). He always allowed me to THINK that I had the "last" word, even when, in his mind, I didn’t. He was my provider and my haven. Our hearts beat as one. He cared for me and loved me, but still allowed me to be my own person, making my own life choices-always quietly pointing me in the right direction. He was strong-willed and stubborn, yet tender and giving. He understood my need to be with family and freely shared me with them. We did everything together-the simple things like watching a TV show or taking a hike and the big things like our heli-hiking trip to British Columbia to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.
As a father, Kermit guided not only our daughters but also me. As we raised the girls, we grew together as parents and as a family. Always proud of our daughters’ accomplishments and who they are, he gave me full credit for their successes. Yet it was his strong sense of goodness and ethics and his love for us that really provided the guidance and direction on how to raise the girls and send them off on their own.
When Kermit celebrated his 35 years with Marsh, he was able to choose a gift. I encouraged him to select the big-screen TV on which to watch his sports, but he wanted to leave a family heirloom, so he unselfishly chose a grandfather clock. It stands in our family room, a representation of how proud he was of his time spent at Marsh and how much he wanted his family to know that.
After the girls graduated from college, we became a couple again, enjoying each other and our time together more than ever. A rich, deep love and admiration for each other became even stronger as we aged.
Now we are together only in spirit. But somehow I know he is looking down at me smiling and saying, "Jill, stay strong. I know you can do it. You know I have always believed that things work out for the best." He said that often, as I would fret and fume and worry about things that seem so insignificant now. Yet somehow he always believed that things happen for a reason and he always reassured me that it would be OK. So since he’s been right for all the years of our life together, I somehow have to believe that he is right now, even though it makes no sense to me. But how I miss him now and how I’ll miss him forever. The anniversary card I gave him on August 14 this year when we celebrated our 36th anniversary expresses my feelings well.
"There are so many things I love about you-
Your generous spirit,
Your gentle heart,
Your passionate soul,
The joy you bring to every day.
And there are so many caring ways you show
your deep commitment to our relationship.
Through all the seasons we’ve spent together,
There has been a lifetime of beautiful reasons
Why I love you
And why I always will."
Like Jill, we are all going to miss Kerm every day but we are going to continue to benefit from everything he gave to us. Memories of the good times will make us smile, we will often do things the way he would have or think things through as he would have suggested and Jill will even bite her tongue sometimes because he would have counseled her to think twice before she spoke.
Kerm loved people, he loved life and he loved us. I don’t believe his death ended that and his family, all of his family - are committed to keeping his dreams alive. Thanks Kerm for all you have done for us. And God Bless You.
Kermit C. Anderson: Walking Together
Kermit C. Anderson made the most of his lunch hour. Almost every day, for half an hour or so, he would descend from his 93rd floor office at the World Trade Center and walk, usually along the Hudson in Battery Park City, gazing out toward New Jersey. He loved places where the boundaries come together: city and river, humanity’s creation and nature’s.
Mr. Anderson, 57, a systems analyst at Marsh Inc., was a math major at Pennsylvania State University who married another Penn State math major, the former Jill Grashof. Together, the Andersons, who lived in Green Brook, N.J., walked for 36 years of married life.
Last year, for their 35th anniversary, they walked the mountains of British Columbia. Deposited every morning by helicopter with a guide, they would hike all day and arrive in the evening at a lodge in time for dinner and a soft bed.
"He probably would have camped, but for me he would stay in lodges with running water and lights," Mrs. Anderson said.
Copyright (c) 2001 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.
May you rest in peace Kermit. It was great knowing you (1995-1998 my tenure at MMC). There was nothing about you not to like. Thinking about you not just toay but everytime Sept. 11 comes around.
Sep 11 2011 11:14PM
Last night, I read a post by Kermit's wife in the Penn Stater magazine. Although I never knew Kermit, I was touched by Jill's story. As a fellow Marshian, Penn Stater and New Jerseyan, I wish Kermit's family strength and sympathy for their loss. I'm happy to have the opportunity to post this after reading the magazine and shedding some tears last night.
Andrew Hersh, Colleague
Aug 30 2011 5:01PM
Kermit was the consummate systems analyst, always friendly and available to find a solution to a problem or to move a project along. I was not there that day, but I was fortunate to have worked with such a great guy. My continued condolences to his family.
(former Marsh employee)
Thomas Mooney, Colleague
Sep 11 2009 11:52AM
I worked with Kermit in 1984-85 at 1221 Ave of the Americas. I did not realize for many years that he had lost his life on 9/11.
What I remember about him was his kindness and always willing to go the extra mile every time you went to him looking for his support.
I remember him as a kind, quiet and very friendly man, who never had anything negative to say about anyone and anything.
When I heard about his passing, my heart was heavy with emotion. To know Kermit was to really respect him!
My sincerest sympathies to his family. May he rest in peace.
Atul Moghe, Colleague
Sep 12 2008 7:39PM
I worked with Mr. Anderson in 1984-85 at 1221 Ave of the Americas. I did not realize for many years that he had lost his life on this day in 2001. I remember him as a kind and unassuming family man who lived his life with a quiet dignity. My sincerest sympathies to his family. May he rest in peace.
Sheila Ratis (nee Dunlop), Colleague
Sep 11 2007 11:58AM