At age 92, Roy Anderson doesn’t get around as much as before.
“I’m making it the best I can being an old man,” he laughed. “But I’ve been blessed.”
But there was once a day that he did.
A recent story in the Sentinel about legendary basketball coach Mickey O’Brien said basically all his players, from Geraldine High School and Jackson County High School, had passed away.
From his home in Birmingham, Anderson said he’s still living.
Anderson grew up in Dutton, on Sand Mountain, where he can still remember playing basketball in the Dutton gym with the low ceiling.
In those days, kids from Dutton had two choices for high school: Pisgah High School or Jackson County High School. O’Brien proved a stellar recruiter when it came to kids off Sand Mountain.
“Coach O’Brien’s sister-in-law and her husband ran a store in Dutton,” remembers Anderson. “He got them to talk to me, and that’s how I wound up at Jackson County High School.”
Anderson was part of the 1944 state championship team, the last team coached by O’Brien before his untimely death later that year.
“I enjoyed playing for him,” said Anderson. “He was a great coach and man.”
Anderson returned for his senior year, in 1945, and helped lead Jackson County back to the state tournament, where they fell to Selma in the state finals.
He was selected all state and wound up going to play at Jacksonville State University. With his friend and former high school teammate, Harold “Red” Parks at Howard College, Anderson transferred his sophomore year.
He graduated in 1951 with a degree in pharmacy and moved to Birmingham with his wife, who was also a pharmacy graduate.
“My father-in-law owned two drug stores in Birmingham,” said Anderson. “He wanted me to come and operate one of the stores.”
Anderson did that for five years, and then became a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company for the next 35 years, retiring in 1993.
He came out of retirement in 1999 and worked part-time as a pharmacist until 2016.
Sand Mountain still holds dear in heart, but Anderson said he doesn’t get up this way much any more.
“For years, we always came to the reunions in Dutton,” he said.
Most everyone is gone now, he said. One of six children born to Roy Sr. and Floy Anderson, Anderson and two sisters remain.
My oldest sister, Berta Ryan, is in Decatur and will be 102 in March,” said Anderson. “My baby sister, Imogene Anderson, lives in Texas.”
Anderson’s wife died almost two years ago. He also lost a daughter in January, who died of cancer. He has two daughters still living, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“I’m glad the Good Lord has let me live this long,” he said.