An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

Contact Information
Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc.
1401 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701

[email protected]

In Memoriam: John Anders, former Texan Sports Editor, 32 years at Dallas Morning News

John Anders

Died Oct. 16, 2023

Dallas, Texas

From The Dallas Morning News

John Anders, whose lyrical writing, eclectic tastes and vast knowledge of Texas and his own distinct passions guided his career at The Dallas Morning News for 32 years, more than 20 of which he spent as one of the paper’s leading columnists, died Oct. 16, 2023. He was 77. His family said the cause was complications from multiple myeloma and surgery for diverticulitis, a digestive issue.

Born in Lexington, Ky., in 1946, Anders and his parents moved to Texas when he was young. He grew up in East Dallas, graduating from Bryan Adams High School in 1964 and four years later from the University of Texas at Austin, where he became sports editor of The Daily Texan.

John Anders

He began his career in the Sports department of The News in 1969, covering, among other things, college sports. He then served as entertainment editor. His army of ardent fans came to know him best, however, as a columnist in the Today section, where his writing, celebrated for its gracefulness and endearingly personal style, appeared on the cover of the section twice weekly and every other Sunday from the late 1970s to 2000.

Nancy Kruh, a former News staffer and one of his closest friends, said Anders’ decades-long presence as a columnist made him a Dallas celebrity, whose volume of fan mail resulted in a workspace that often resembled a small mountain range.

It pained him to no end, she said, to at some point, have to throw it away. “It was precious to him” said Kruh, who now writes for People magazine in Nashville, Tenn. “But one day a year, he wiped the slate clean and got rid of it all.”

From the day that he met him, when Anders was an intern in the Sports department in 1968, his longtime colleague, Randy Galloway, said he saw Anders as a rare talent who would soon become one of his closest pals.

“John was the kind of guy that — man! — He was the best kind of human being, number one, and number two, the type of guy who, no matter what the scene was, or what the situation was, John fit right in,” Galloway said. “And everybody loved John. Not only a great sportswriter but then he moves out of Sports and becomes a great columnist. It was a heck of a career.”

Galloway, who spent years as the lead sports columnist at The News and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and as host of his own high-profile sports talk show on radio, called Anders a “super talent” who made the transition from writing about Sports to the world at large as well as anybody ever has.

What did he like about him as a friend? He was dependable, Galloway said. “When John was your friend, loyalty was the top priority.”

Kruh called Anders “a Renaissance man.” She marveled at his professorial knowledge of movies, which she said made him a ferocious opponent in Trivial Pursuit.

“I beat him only once,” she said. “His memory of lyrics from the classic standards was also so impressive. Like Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin. He had a beautiful singing voice,” which he may have inherited from his father, William Anders, a vocal teacher at Howard Payne University, who later became a choir director. Anders’ mother, Jeanette Anders, was an elementary school teacher in the Dallas Independent School District.

Kruh, who served as Anders’ editor for almost a decade, said his writing resonated with readers because of one alluring component. “His writing style was very accessible. It was one of the real gifts John had, because he connected with readers, who felt they were in conversation with him.”

She called Anders’ career part of “a bygone era in journalism. We just don’t have that kind of personal column anymore. Very few newspapers, if any, have columns today that are that personal in nature. But it strikes me in another way that John was a precursor of what we experience on the web,” on social media, on personal sites such as Facebook. “John really was one of the original influencers. People wanted to know what he thought, what he liked, where he went and how he raised his family. And the lifestyle he described was truly influential to readers.”

Echoing those thoughts was Bob Mong, who served as managing editor of The News during much of Anders’ tenure as a columnist. Mong, who was also top editor of the paper from 2001 to 2015, said of Anders: “John understood his audience just like Randy Galloway understood his audience in Sports and Scott Burns understood his audience in personal finance. In all three cases, they knew how to reach readers. And they cared about them. And that’s what comes to mind when I think about John.”

Steve Blow, who served as Metro columnist at The News from 1989 to 2015, said of Anders: “Though down to earth, John was also our most urbane columnist. When Dallas wasn’t enough, he regularly added San Francisco and New York to the mix. It was fun to ride with John through his column. For years, John was a fixer-upper guy. As a charming single dad, every mother of an unmarried adult daughter in Dallas was trying to fix her up with John.”

Anders’ life was “so public,” Kruh said, “but he was actually a very private man. There was a line of demarcation between his public and his private self. When your life is so public, you want to save something that is truly your own.”

He was, she said, “one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. He was also a wonderful cook. He brought me homemade chicken soup when I was recuperating from surgery. That’s just the kind of friend he was. He sought me out to talk when he knew I was having a rough time. He was the absolute best for heart-to-heart talks. He always took the time to listen.”

His columns, she said, were moving tributes to the pleasures of life, “whether it was the shrimp in New Orleans or the abalone in San Francisco or music. He loved to travel, and he loved his friends. His columns were a masterclass in how to enjoy life.”

He was, she noted, “one of the most naturally gifted writers I’ve writers ever known,” who in 2017 was honored with a Living Legends awards by the Dallas Press Club.

Anders is survived by his wife of 28 years, Helen Bryant Anders, and her daughters, Tyree Schwager and Miranda Andrews, “whom he considered his own,” Kruh said, as well as his son from his first marriage, Kirk Anders, who became a recurring figure in his father’s columns.

Anders’ widow has designated the North Texas Food Bank for memorial donations. A celebration of life is planned Nov. 18 from 1-4 p.m. at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas at Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.