A Man Always on the Move
Jimmy Charles Anderson was born August 30, 1926, in St. John’s, Michi- gan. His father, Joseph Donald Anderson, was in the hardware business and moved the family to Grand Ledge, Michigan to buy his own store, when at the early age of 47, passed away. His mother, Thelma Smith Anderson who had been a homemaker, ended up going to work at the 10¢ Store in Grand Ledge. She eventually remarried two times and lived to be 96 years old.
Jim attended Grand Ledge High School and joined the Air Force Training Program at Michigan State University when he was called to active duty just after one semester and sent to Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. Here, he was scheduled to begin flight training, when WWII ended. Due to the large number of pilots returning from war, he was transferred to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, Illinois, for communications training. He did so well, they kept him on to train others when he was finally approved for flight training at Truax Field in Wisconsin. While there, he was discharged and moved back to Michigan, where he met Shirley Jean Chudley, a girl from down the street. They married July 15, 1948.
In Michigan, his brother had gone to the General Motors Institute (GMI) in Detroit and got Jim a position with Oldsmobile. During this time, Jim studied business administration at GMI and graduated in 1951 while working in the Accounting Department. In 1953 he got a job in sales working on distribution to dealers in 28 zone offices and 27 assembly plants. He then attended a sales training program in 1955 to go to GM’s field organization. In July of 1956, he was transferred to Kansas City, Missouri, where he traveled around the country overseeing sales and distribution.
In September of 1956, he was promoted to District Manager and transferred to Hayes, Kansas. Unfortunately, Hayes, a town relying on agriculture, suffered a three-year drought and no one was purchasing automobiles. By this time, Jim and Shirley had four children and were transferred to St. Joe, Missouri, where they lived in a small apartment. He and the family eventually made it back to Kansas City and bought a house. In 1962, he was promoted to office manager and sent to Dallas, Texas. After Kennedy was assassinated, they moved to Lansing, Michigan, where Jim covered half the country dealing with distribution problems. He traveled during the week and was home on weekends.
He found himself on a flight from Los Angeles, California, back to Lan- sing and realized he was sitting next to the General Sales Manager for Oldsmobile. They spoke the entire flight and two months later, he was promoted to Assistant Zone Manager here in Memphis. Because of his proximity to New Orleans, he was placed in charge of all the convertibles for the Mardi Gras parades. They furnished cars and decals for the Mardi Gras Krewes and had to hire ROTC students from Tulane to serve as “designated drivers”. The convertibles were then sold as “Special Event Cars”.
In 1973, Jim suffered a slipped disk in his back and had surgery. Part of his rehab was to walk, which eventually led to running. He joined the Memphis Runners Track Club and at age 50 qualified and competed in his first Boston Marathon. He ran it two more times, as well as the New York Marathon.
Eventually, the Memphis zone office ended up moving from Knight Arnold and Mendenhall to Clark Tower on Poplar Avenue and at this point the kids were grown and Shirley worked for an attorney in the same building. In December of 1980, Jim ran on his lunch break to pick up a Christmas gift for Shirley. Upon his return, he was offered the Zone Manager job in Indianapolis, Indiana, so once again, they were off. As Zone Manager in 1985, Jim was in charge of the Indy Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. That spring, his boss allowed him to move back to the city he and Shirley loved, Kansas City, Missouri on a one year deal. At age 60 Jim retired and the two of them moved to Vail, Colorado.
He and Shirley loved to ski, so Jim took a job selling ski lift tickets, just so the two could have free lift tickets themselves. He then took a job as a cashier at a Beaver Creek restaurant again, for free lift tickets. At this point, Jim had always wanted to drive an 18-wheeler, so he drove a bus between Vail to Beaver Creek and Beaver Creek to Mid- City for free ski passes. When he turned 65, he no longer had to work for the free pass- es. They built a house in 1991 and Shirley passed away in 1999. Jim stayed another year and moved back to Kansas City. One of his daughters lived in Durango, so Jim decided to move to Grand Junction, Colorado to be closer. In 2008 he moved to Germantown, Tennessee, and eventually traveled between the two locations.
In 2012, Jim became a founder of the Farms at Bailey Station and in August of 2016, he decided he no longer wanted to do yard work or house maintenance and moved into Kirby Pines. He is still adjusting but is surrounded by some of his prized possessions. He collects Chinese and Japanese pottery and carousel horses. He has been to six continents and 42 countries, moved 21 times in 51 years, has five grandchildren and seven great grands. Needless to say, he has led a fascinating and full life. So if you have yet to meet Jim, take the time to say hello, he has some stories to tell.