Remembering Les Anderson

Les Anderson invited me to my first Wichita Professional Communicators luncheon. At the time, I was a student in his classes at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication. With his guidance, I developed a love for journalism and the AP Stylebook, and a deep hate for the word “very.”

Les encouraged me to write for The Sunflower, apply for scholarships and serve on the WSU Board of Student Publications. He helped me find a freelance opportunity in college, writing “Love Story,” a feature story in the Sunday Celebrations section of The Wichita Eagle. He served as my reference when I got my first full-time journalism job as a copy editor at The Hutchinson News.

Whenever he could, Les lent a hand. I am but one lucky recipient of his kindness, as he extended his helping hand and constant smile to numerous people. Many of us gathered 10 years ago for “Beyond Casual,” an event launching the Les Anderson Fund for Students at WSU. Now, an event is planned to replenish the fund. “Taco ’bout Les” will be from 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at the Valley Center Community Center.

Hosted by Ben Anderson and Madeline McCullough, the event might include “some Anderson shenanigans, as are to be expected with any function involving Les’ family,” according to the event Facebook page. Consider lending a hand.

– Darcy Gray, WPC president


The following information is courtesy of Wichita State University:

Les Anderson Fund for Students

Les Anderson was a proud family man, beloved journalist, mentor and nationally noted professor in the WSU Elliott School of Communication.

Les AndersonAnderson began teaching journalism at WSU in 1977. He served as a faculty adviser for the student Society of Professional Journalism and served on the WSU Board of Student Publications. In 2003, he was recognized as a Bender of Twigs honoree for his more than 25 years of service to the university. Prior to his time at WSU, Anderson worked at The Wichita Eagle and helped start two weekly newspapers, The Wichita Sun and The Ark Valley News. In 2010, he published the book “Never Take a Snake for a Ride,” a compilation of many of his columns.

Additionally, he was a former president of the Kansas Press Association and served on numerous state and national committees. Throughout the years, Anderson received countless Kansas journalism and teaching awards, including the Karl and Dorothy Gaston Outstanding Mentor Award, the Victor Murdock Award for Excellence in Kansas Journalism, the Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor Award, the Huck Boyd Community Service Award and the Kansas Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award.

When a handful of former students wanted to do something to honor a professor who went out of his way to support and promote their education, they established the Les Anderson Fund for Students for support of both individual and group student activities in the Elliott School of Communication. A successful fundraising event on Oct. 20, 2011, featuring a lighthearted roast of Anderson, netted enough donations from many friends, WSU alumni and family for an impressive and stable fund. Sadly, Anderson died suddenly thereafter on Nov. 12, 2011.

Donations to the fund should be made out to the WSU Foundation in person, by mail to Wichita State University Foundation, 1845 Fairmount St., Wichita, KS 67620-0002 or online here.

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