Friends and family were in mourning Saturday as the "Voice of Galveston" fell silent.

Vandy Anderson, 73, earned the name “The Voice of Galveston” for his work in radio and as the island’s most sought-after master of ceremonies, announcer and spokesman.

Anderson’s distinctive voice guided residents through hurricanes, welcomed visitors to the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry, described aerobatic feats at air shows and — long before the Internet came along — provided live local election results.

The Galveston native, born Sept. 23, 1942, got into radio when he was 14 years old with a job at KULF-AM — before it became KILE-AM. Anderson would eventually become an owner of KGBC radio and remained with the station until it was sold in 2000.

In 2014, he was among 16 Texas radio legends inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

Gerald Sullivan, a friend of Anderson’s since the two attended Ball High School, remembered him both as a generous man and as a captivating voice.

“He would open up every morning on KGBC and say, ‘It’s a crystal clear morning on Galveston Island,’” Sullivan said.

Anderson was a gifted announcer, Maureen Patton, executive director of The Grand 1894 Opera House, said.

“He had that glorious radio voice,” Patton said. “It was unmistakable.”

Patton could think of no other person to narrate The Grand’s centennial in 1995, she said.

“We lost a treasure,” Patton said. “He is going to be so missed.”

Galvestonian Frances Powell met Anderson 50 years ago when she worked in advertising sales for KGBC. Powell, a Daily News columnist, has counted Anderson among her dearest friends since.

“Galveston has lost a legacy,” Powell said. “Galveston has lost its historian, its comedian and a great friend.”

Anderson also became well known in Galveston for his volunteerism. He served on a multitude of boards and commissions that aimed to improve all aspects of life on and around Galveston Island.

He served three four-year terms on the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County Ports, which oversees operations of pilots who guide vessels arriving from and headed for the Gulf of Mexico. Anderson ended his final term in March. Additionally, he served as the president of the school board — even though he had no children in the schools, Sullivan said.

“His life was giving,” Sullivan said. “And he gave and he gave and he gave.”

Last month, Anderson announced he was signing off from one of his last remaining obligations, as he informed his fellow pilot commission members that he would not seek to be appointed for a fourth term. Even as he planned to step down, however, Anderson's focus remained on the good work that the commission had done.

"I think we have brought stability to the relationship between the pilots and those they serve," Anderson wrote. "We went from massive, contentious, and expensive (for both sides) rate hearings to now negotiated rates, including a three-year rate setting, which we are now under."

Those who knew him best said Anderson should be remembered as much for the personal relationships he cultivated as for his public endeavors.

“He was very devoted to his wife, Sue,” Sullivan said. “They just made the perfect couple. You didn’t see Vandy if you didn’t see Sue.”

Anderson knew Galveston's histories and its backstories, Patton said. 

"He was the heart and soul and story keeper of Galveston," Patton said. "One of the saddest things is the stories that Vandy had are now lost; so much of the history of Galveston is lost."

In his own words

As the "Voice of Galveston," Vandy Anderson covered decades of events in Galveston, including many news stories that would become history. In 2011, he commemorated the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Carla, which he covered alongside a young Texas reporter named Dan Rather, by contributing the following to The Daily News: 

A dear friend an islander by choice used to say locals seemed to mark the passage of time by storms like before or after Hurricane Alicia. Well of course now he has one of his own. With September upon us I have been asked by the newspaper to remember my first — Hurricane Carla.

In 1961, I was a very young radio reporter. There was no formal Emergency Operations Center. I headquartered at the weather bureau office in the post office building. There were only a few people there but power was reliable and there was the big old and powerful World War II weather radar. Another slightly older TV reporter, Dan Rather, was there. Carla launched his career — but not for the reason you might think. It wasn’t because we reported as we staggered in the teeth of the raging storm.

We could wander into the dimly lit radar room and see the monster storm filling the Gulf. But Rather wasn’t allowed to show it on TV. The weather bureau said that reading a radar picture was a highly technical skill to be learned in years of study. And it was too scary to show. But Rather pressed on and finally got the weather people to permit him to roll the big TV camera right into the radar room and show the world the ominous hurricane. In his book ”The Camera Never Blinks” Rather tells this story.

The storm had passed during the day but during the night terrible tornadoes raked the island. Many were killed. Horrible damage was done. You still can trace the major tornado’s route across the island from 23rd Street and Seawall Boulevard to 21st Street and Broadway and out into the bay. Look for a few vacant lots along the way and the post-1961 buildings.

Another friend remembered just the other day spending the night in the old county courthouse on 21st Street. The tornado demolished the front of the building and injured several people.

The city was in the process of launching the current form of government. The old guard had stripped the city’s treasury and the tax collector and taken all the records to his home. He said they belonged to him. Not one city vehicle was running. Police answered calls in taxicabs when one was available. City services were nonexistent for weeks. KGBC stayed on the air with an ancient U.S. Army generator for power.

And now as the years advance the worst memories have eased. When will we stop talking about Hurricane Ike? Never. At least until the next one.

(4) comments

Pat Hallisey

So very sad Janice and I loved Vandy. A first class person
We send our thoughts and prayers to all the family.

Doyle Beard

I have known Vandy since the mid 1960s . A great guy who alway scared about people. A great privilige to have been associated with him.

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

Since both my parents have always been in politics all of my life , I remember Mr. Anderson by his godly like voice on the radio during every election many years ago.

No matter what room or hall that politicians and their supporters met in, we'd patiently listened for that deep and confident voice of Vandy Anderson to begin reading the election results.

Thanks for the memories Mr. Anderson, you've certainly made a difference in the lives of all of those that you have touched one way or another through your many years of service to Galveston county.

Godspeed to the family....

Mike Trube

Mike and I were very fond of Vandy. Sad that a big part of history is gone. He will be missed. Thoughts and prayers for the family.

Connie

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.