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."