Kevin Neil Anderson, 64, longtime DC resident and member of Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, is now free from battling kidney disease. Surrounded by Carol, his wife of 31 years, Pastor Alisa Lasater Wailoo and a dozen friends, his peaceful sendoff on May 23 included a tape of his church choir serenading him.
A former business journalist who began his career at Gannett Co.’s Monroe, LA, newspaper, Kevin was among the founding staff Gannett tapped to launch USA Todayin 1982. “I was so shocked and saddened to hear of Kevin’s passing. We shared so much in those early USA Todayyears that, despite not seeing one another, he has always been a major figure in my life,” said former USA Todaycolleague Gwen Flanders. Kevin joined the “Money” section as a business reporter and later served as a Financial Markets editor. He got to engage boldface names such as Mother Teresa, Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn, among many others. And he vividly remembered interviewing a media-hungry Donald Trump when Trump was promoting The Art of the Deal.
But it was Kevin’s award-winning series on “Health & Money” that changed his trajectory when it caught the eye of The Alliance for Health Policy, a bi-partisan nonprofit notably engaged in health care reform. Kevin had caught the policy wonk bug and left journalism to be their communications director in 1992. Then the Clinton White House beckoned and he served as a chief health policy spokesperson during the 1993 rollout of the President’s Health Reform Plan. Despite the failure of that effort, Kevin continued to be passionate that all Americans should have access to quality health care. A year later he joined his wife Carol in co-founding a corporate and government communications consultancy, where he consulted on health management and policy.
He met Carolyn Timberlake Cofield in 1984. Kevin was grudgingly attending his last Christmas party of the season when he met the future Mrs. Anderson at the PR firm where she worked. That night Carol and Kevin became instant friends. Soon inseparable, they married in 1987. The wedding was quintessential DC: a ceremony at St. Albans with Norman Scribner playing the organ, followed by a reception at the Hay-Adams. Capitol Hill was their home until they moved to the SW waterfront several years ago. For nearly 34 years they were together 24/7, happiest when the other was near. “I needed him to inhale for me to exhale,” said Carol.
Throughout his life, Kevin advocated for social justice issues – civil rights, voting rights, gay rights, worker rights. His most recent cause was sanctuary for refugees. So when multi-denominational churches formed the Good Neighbors Capitol Hill Refugee Settlement Project, he said, “This is something I am called to do.” Besides helping numerous Afghan families get housed and settled, Kevin was notable for his warm friendships with the parents and children. “Kevin worked tirelessly to help settle the families, from hauling furniture to arranging car insurance,” said Sig Cohen, Good Neighbors volunteer from Hill Havurah.
“How profoundly sad to hear of Kevin’s passing,” said Lynn Kneedler, former executive director of Capitol Hill Group Ministry. “He was such a steadfast supporter of me and of Capitol Hill Group Ministry during my tenure. I was and am so grateful for this and was delighted to renew our friendship through Good Neighbors. Kevin has been the spirit and face of compassion, caring and commitment to our neighbors as Jesus taught. I and so many are better for having been touched by Kevin.”
On a trip to Sydney, Australia, Kevin realized a lifelong fantasy when he got to steer a replica of the HMS Bountywhile singing sea shanties with the crew. But it was church music that fed his soul. He felt privileged to sing under CHUMC’s gifted music director, Jon Kalbfleisch. Said fellow choir member Sterling Scroggins, “Kevin was such an important source of constancy at CHUMC and to the choir.”
Kevin was a rabid Nationals fan, initially shocking Carol by calling Bryce Harper, “my son.” “I’ve lost my Nats buddy and dear friend. I’ll not listen to a game without thinking of Kevin,” said Doris McDiffett, 102, Kevin’s favorite baseball buddy.
When ready for high school, Kevin was offered a berth at the prestigious New Hampshire prep school Phillips Exeter Academy. Their motto, Non Simi(Not for Oneself), proved ironic when Kevin chose to stay in public school with his friends. A 1976 graduate of Brown University, Kevin returned home after college, bartending while taking graduate courses in history and political science at the University of Memphis. His future in journalism and public policy not yet on the horizon.
Kevin Neil Anderson was born Jan. 10, 1954 in the old Doctors Hospital in Alexandria, VA, before, as he would say, “being whisked away at six months old” to southern environs. He was the elder of two sons born to Joe Pat Anderson, a prominent Memphis, TN, family physician, and Dorothy Anderson, a stay-at-home mother who instilled Kevin’s deep love for learning. Both parents are deceased.
Kevin is survived by his wife Carol and his brother Keith in Memphis. He is remembered by countless souls whose lives he enriched.