For nearly 80 years, Lester Anderson has called the Mid-Ohio Valley his home.
Not only has he been influential during a long career at Marietta College, he's had a major impact on the area.
"I've been active in a lot of things," Anderson said.
AMANDA NICHOLSON The Marietta Times
Lester Anderson, 79, visits with his daughter, Lydia Hunter, 53, granddaughter, Nadine, 29, and step-great granddaughter, Rachel, 2, on Tuesday. Anderson will be celebrating his 80th birthday at the Gathering Place on Marietta College’s campus from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
From the Ely Chapman Education Foundation to Christ United Methodist Church, and various school programs to helping with community drama productions, Anderson has helped the community in a wide variety of ways over his lifetime.
On Sunday, those who know Anderson, or simply know of his contributions to the community, can celebrate his 80th birthday with him at the Gathering Place on Marietta College's campus.
Anderson's dedication to Marietta College runs deep. He was a professor of physics at Marietta College for 41 years.
If you go
What: Lester Anderson's 80th birthday celebration/community open house.
Where: The Gathering Place on Marietta College's campus, at the corner of Seventh and Butler streets.
When: 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
During his tenure there, Anderson helped grow the physics department.
"I've had a kind of special interest in astronomy for all these years," he said.
He was more than happy to help build Mills Hall into the science building, and was very influential in getting the observatory built on its roof.
"For years and years, he had that observatory open to the public," said Lydia Hunter, Anderson's daughter and a teacher for Warren Local Schools. "He single-handedly did that."
For years, Anderson was involved in the Women in Sciences (WIS) program, which is a summer program for girls, and the Young Engineers and Science (YES) program.
Anderson is also responsible for bringing a portable, inflatable planetarium to 4-H programs and area schools.
"It led to the youth's increased interest in astronomy," Anderson said. "It also led to some plans for building a local, small planetarium."
For the past 20 years, Anderson has been involved with the Aerospace Adventure Camp, which gets help from Marietta science faculty and 4-H.
Hot air balloons, bottle rockets and space flight are subjects of discussion and demonstration, Anderson said, right down to having someone from NASA come to talk to the students.
"He and mom hosted many events," Hunter said. "There were star-gazing parties on their property where people could come out and look through telescopes at the stars. There were also picnics for college students, and they hosted college students when they didn't have somewhere to go during holidays."
Anderson's name became better known in the community after the dedication of the Anderson Hancock Planetarium in 2009 on Marietta College's campus.
"You can't help but be honored and flattered by it," Anderson said of having his name on the building. "The main theme of what I said (at the dedication) was: It's really a tribute to, as I see it, all the teachers at Marietta College. We (Whit Hancock and I) just happened to teach someone who is in this position to do so much for the college."
One of the most popular things Anderson is known for is his band organ, a 1917 Wurlitzer, with which he makes the rounds at the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, Harmar Days, nursing homes and Ely Chapman book giveaways.
"(The Carousel Organ Association of America's [COAA]) slogan is 'The Happiest Music on Earth,' and it is," Anderson said. "It's not the best music on earth; it has a funny timber and sounds often a little off key, but it's part of the personality."
Anderson said he gets a lot of satisfaction from the reactions many people give, his favorite of which was of an elderly veteran in a nursing home who stood for an entire roll of patriotic World War I and II songs.
"As soon as he recognized those military songs, he stood up and saluted," Anderson said. "He stood there until the last song was done on that roll, so about 25 minutes."
As Anderson's 80th birthday creeps up on Monday, his birthday celebration will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Gathering Place, at the corner of Seventh and Butler streets on Marietta College's campus.
The event is open to the public and anyone who knows Anderson, or even just knows of him, is encouraged to attend.
Looking forward, Anderson said he's going to try to "stay active for a little while longer."
"I'm looking forward to helping people as much as I can for as long as I can," Anderson said, adding, "It's been a great life."