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He was an inspiration in dentistry, community

A prominent civil leader and founder of the Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education dies at 88.

By JAY CRIDLIN
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 1, 2002


BALLAST POINT -- Even on his deathbed, L.M. "Billy" Anderson Jr. could crack jokes, tell stories, give advice to his fellow dentists and recount hole-by-hole the rounds of golf he played at Augusta National.

"He would have been a great Southern senator," said friend Brian Branagan. "He was a tremendous orator -- he had a way with words that you wanted to hear him speak. Even when he was sick, he could still come up with a phrase."

Mr. Anderson, a prominent civic leader and the founder of a renowned dental institute, died at home in Ballast Point Oct. 24, three days shy of his 89th birthday.

"He made so many contributions to the dental world," said his daughter, Elizabeth Anderson. "I can't tell you how many people I've heard say, 'Your dad helped my father get started in the business.' He was very much a leader for those who were starting out young and needed help."

Mr. Anderson was a fifth-generation bay area child, the great-great-grandson of an innkeeper at Fort Brooke in the 1830s.

Born in 1913 to the owner of a dental supply company, Mr. Anderson joined a boxing team in high school and became quite successful -- earning a record of 36-1-2 between his high school career and freshman year at the University of Florida.

During World War II, Mr. Anderson was in charge of a dental clinic in England, arriving just days after D-Day.

Mr. Anderson began working for his father at L.M. Anderson Dental Supply Co. in Tampa in 1933. He became president of the company in 1948 and chairman in 1960.

Mr. Anderson sold his firm in 1974 and retired in 1980, but he remained active in several dental organizations.

He received honorary service awards from such groups as the American Society of Dentistry for Children and the American Dental Trade Association, of which he served as president.

One of his most lasting achievements was the Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education in Key Biscayne, named after his mentor, Dr. Lindsey D. Pankey.

Mr. Anderson helped found the Pankey Institute in 1971 and served as an adviser to the board of trustees for the L.D. Pankey Dental Foundation.

"He was always energetic about thinking of new ways to help dentists serve their patients better and enjoy their own profession in the process," said Pankey spokeswoman Deborah Bush. Mr. Anderson served as president of the Rotary Club of Tampa and the United Fund of Greater Tampa and chaired the Chamber of Commerce's Committee of 100. He was a director of Exchange National Bank and chairman of Exchange Bank of Westshore.

Though often busy, he always made time for his family. He, his wife, Betty, and his five children vacationed every summer at Crystal River and often traveled to their mountain home in North Carolina.

"Four of his five children still live here in Tampa, and we all spend an enormous amount of time together," Elizabeth said. "I think that's a great tribute to how my mother and father raised us."

Mr. Anderson loved golf -- he was a scratch-handicap golfer -- and was a member of Tampa Yacht and Country Club, Palma Ceia Country Club, University Club, Avila Country Club, Wildcat Cliffs Country Club, and Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

At Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder, Mr. Anderson headed up a recent stewardship campaign and was active in a Monday afternoon Bible study group.

"He was highly respected, both for what he's done as well as for his character and his humor," said William Wallof, dean of the chapel at the church.

At his funeral, friends credited his religious faith with helping him cope after the death of his first wife, Margaret, in a car accident many years ago.

Even as his health faded in recent years, Mr. Anderson kept his spirits high. In the final weeks of his life, he called the Pankey Institute with ideas on improving children's dental care.

"He was all about wisdom and inspiration," said daughter Katherine Anderson. "I would say that 98 percent of the people that he talked to in his lifetime, he inspired them in some way."

Mr. Anderson's survivors include his wife of more than 40 years, Laura (Betty) McClain Anderson; three sons, Louis Markham III, Robert Bruce and Stuart McClain; two daughters, Katherine Gray and Elizabeth Anne; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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