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'My faith opened doors for me'

By JUDITH LINDER-ASHAKIH • Feb 4, 2019 at 5:00 PM

"Are you having fun?"

That’s a question Terry Anderson asks his senior center class of artists as his students work on their second lesson in painting with acrylics. He walks among them as they wait for the paint to dry, giving them pointers and encouragement. This is one of several classes he has taught at Norwalk and Willard senior centers after his in-depth involvement teaching himself how to paint.

Since his retirement he has been especially focused on how to bring joy to lives of others. Teaching art is only one of his interests. There is what he calls his musical gospel. This began years ago when Steve Burkhalter, Willard CRO tower operator, who sings and plays guitar joined Anderson playing keyboard. Their music spread to various churches in Willard, where Anderson now lives.

Soon Anderson will be bringing his keyboard, vocals, and sing-along gospel to the Carriage House (in February) and Norwalk Memorial Home (in March) this year. "I was inspired by a guy on the internet who travels all around the country playing at nursing homes."

Anderson has had a go-getter attitude from his youth, beginning at age 16 with a 3 a.m. job at Meek's Bakery in Norwalk as doughnut maker and delivery person. His route included Berry's Restaurant, the Star Diner and even delivering as far as the diner in Monroeville before school began. Afterwards he worked at the downtown Norwalk Sears in the mail order department.

He went to EHOVE Career Center for training as a medical illustrator. "Lots of opportunities presented themselves," he said.

Later, he served three years in the U.S. Army and received training as a medical corpsman. He was shipped to Landstuhl, Germany, where he had the choice of being able to use his EHOVE training as a medical illustrator or being a medic in the U.S. Regional Medical Center. He took the illustrator job. This was before computer graphics made printing easier. He did everything by hand, creating displays for "military medical conferences in Europe." After three years of active service he joined the Ohio National Guard (1975-1977).

He joined the railroad in 1977. His career in the mechanical department extended until his retirement, but at the same time he found energy after work to open a screen printing and sign business. No matter where he was, he found a way to paint something. He earned earned his teaching certificate and substituted in commercial art classes at vocational schools in Milan and Shelby.

"Life is not always a bowl of cherries. If you didn't go through rough times you wouldn't have the proper perspective on life. We've had health scares, layoffs, trials and errors," he said, adding "I stay safe ... watch everyone's back (at the railroad especially) and pray for a safe day." Much of his time at the railroad included creating and painting signs to promote their safety campaign. He has a large folder with photographs of these huge outdoor pieces, something to save for his children.

Always being mindful of safety was a factor of his work on a ground crew that cleaned up after derailments. "I like staying busy," he said. After working grueling hours to get the train tracks cleared, he enjoyed describing his extra role of cook for the ground crew on the wrecked train. "The wreck master would send me to get groceries in the middle of the night if he had to so we could feed the employees who worked the derailment."

"Just before I retired, I thought ‘what I'm going to do?’ I decided I like to paint. In another one of those (insightful) moments I saw on Craig's List (some) Bob Roth art supplies — a whole set. I contacted the person to buy, he wasn't interested in the price (I offered). Later on I got one for much less. I drove all the way to Columbus to pick it up. Look what happened. It all came together. An entire list of supplies that got me into oil painting. It takes more time to let oil dry so I paint wet on wet. I finish a piece in one sitting. Oil is still my favorite," Anderson said.

He belongs to the Firelands Area Art League where he enjoys giving lessons in acrylics for members as another medium to try. "After six years of retirement I am still constantly at it. I have done about 250 paintings. Landscape is my subject matter. I love doing demonstrations at shows and lessons at the senior centers."

One day while driving in the car he said a song on the radio gave him new inspiration for a new landscape painting. It described “Peace like a river, Joy like a fountain, Love like an ocean.” He said this speaks to his soul.

Some of Anderson's landscapes will be on view at the upcoming FAAL spring art show, held the first weekend of April at Norwalk High School. You can contact him at [email protected]

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