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ASHP Past President R. David Anderson Dies at 97

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R. David Anderson

Original article by: Kate Traynor Read the original printing here.

ASHP Past President Robert David “Andy” Anderson, a pharmacy leader whose work advanced the profession well beyond his four decades of active practice, died May 12, 2023. He was 97 years old.

Andy Anderson

R. David “Andy” Anderson has died

Anderson is remembered as an early adopter of unit dose drug distribution systems, modern hospital compounding practices, standardization of drug information, interprofessional collaboration, and other pharmacy responsibilities that are routine today.

“Andy was part of a groundbreaking generation of pharmacists who pushed the bounds of what the profession can accomplish,” said ASHP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul W. Abramowitz. “His work helped create our modern vision of pharmacy as a clinical profession that is accountable for medication safety and patient outcomes. He also helped further position ASHP as the professional home for pharmacists who practice in hospitals and health systems, and he continued to advance pharmacy practice throughout his career and retirement. Andy was a caring person who mentored many people within and beyond the profession of pharmacy. ASHP was privileged to be part of Andy’s pharmacy family, and we deeply mourn his loss.”

Those who knew Anderson used words like humble, gentlemanly, self-deprecating, spiritual, talented, gracious, persuasive, respected, and extraordinary to describe their friend and colleague.

Stephen Allen, former CEO of the ASHP Foundation, said he was working at Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., fresh from his residency, when Anderson came by for a site visit.

“I was thrilled to meet and talk with an ASHP past president and was amazed as Andy took an interest in me personally and professionally,” Allen said. “He encouraged and praised me and invited me to present at a regional meeting of the Virginia Society of Hospital Pharmacists, where he personally hosted me for the visit.”

In his later years, Anderson became the nexus of a group of pharmacy friends, including Allen, who gathered regularly to reminisce and visit local Virginia wineries.

“His enthusiasm for life and the joy of spending time with friends was never more evident on those visits. Like many others in our profession, my life has been so deeply enriched to have had Andy as both a friend and mentor,” Allen said.

Anderson was born Nov. 22, 1925, in the coal mining town of Dante, Virginia, to Harvey Ellis Anderson and Suda Lenora (Ingram) Anderson. Anderson’s mother was a nurse, and his father was an accountant.

In a 2010 memoir he shared with ASHP, Anderson described the hardships the family faced in his Depression-era youth, including the death by suicide of his young mother. Anderson credited F.L. Thompson, scoutmaster of Dante Troop No. 1, with inspiring the local boys to aim high and succeed.

“To this day, I have tried to live by the motto that a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent,” Anderson wrote. “I will be always be grateful for the efforts that Mr. Thompson and others put forth to mold my life.”

During his senior year of high school, Anderson worked as a clerk at the local pharmacy, where he had his first workplace exposure to what would become his future profession. The pharmacist, known as Guy “Doc” Hall, encouraged Anderson to apply to the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) School of Pharmacy in Richmond.

So he did. And he was accepted — as a 16-year-old high school senior.

Anderson completed three years of his pharmacy education before being drafted into the U.S. Army, reporting for duty in August of 1944 during the second world war. He served with the 95th Infantry Division through the end of the war in Europe and returned to the United States to await further deployment. He remained stateside until June 28, 1946, when he was discharged as a staff sergeant and returned to Richmond to finish his final year of pharmacy school.

After graduating in 1947, Anderson worked as a pharmacist at MCV Hospital. In 1948, he left to pursue a doctorate at the University of Minnesota School of Pharmacy. Unable to tolerate the cold of his first Minnesota winter, Anderson returned to Virginia. He found temporary work at a retail pharmacy until a position opened up for him at MCV Hospital, where he was soon promoted to senior pharmacist.

While working in the hospital, Anderson met nurse Amanda Lee Baker. They were married Feb. 4, 1950, and remained together until her death in 1982.

Anderson left MCV Hospital in 1951 after being offered the chief (and only) pharmacist position at recently opened King’s Daughters’ Hospital — a 171 bed facility in Staunton, Virginia. Donald Franklin Anderson, the couple’s first son, was born that year, followed in 1953 by son Robert David “Bob” Anderson Jr.

From his earliest days in hospital pharmacy, Anderson devoured the advice and ideas in AJHP’s predecessor publications, the Bulletin of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists and the American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy. He also made professional contacts through his membership and participation in ASHP, the Virginia Pharmaceutical Association, and the Valley Pharmaceutical Association.

In 1955, Anderson was a founding member and the first president of the Virginia Society of Hospital Pharmacists (VSHP). Around that time, Anderson wrote in his memoir, he began a lifelong friendship with hospital pharmacy luminary Paul F. Parker, who served as ASHP president in 1956–1957. Anderson also became increasingly active in ASHP, attending the organization’s educational institutes around the country and making new friends among the profession’s leaders.

Anderson was widely recognized as an author of ASHP’s seminal 1959 safety standards for hospital medication procedures, and, three years later, ASHP’s guidelines for the safe use of medications in hospitals.

Anderson was always looking for ideas to improve pharmacy services at King’s Daughters’ Hospital. Around 1960, he attended an ASHP educational institute at Ohio State University (OSU) Hospital, where he learned that pharmacy chief Clifton J. Latiolais was hiring. Anderson was offered the position of assistant director of pharmacy, which he held from 1960 to 1964.

Under Latiolais, the pharmacy department became a powerhouse of advanced practice activities, including stability studies of reconstituted drugs, unit-dose drug distribution, a drug information program, and one of the nation’s early pharmacy residency training programs. When he arrived at the hospital, Anderson helped train the department’s second class of residents, which included future ASHP presidents Larry K. Shoup and Fred M. Eckel. In his memoir, Anderson described working with students and residents “a pure joy.”

Eckel, who eventually succeeded Anderson as assistant pharmacy director at the hospital, said he learned from his mentor’s example and “was able to put into practice quickly the things he taught me.”

“My professional life benefitted greatly by the influence of Andy Anderson,” Eckel said. “Perhaps of more benefit was his influence on me developing my leadership style.”

He added that Anderson’s quiet manner and southern charm made him easy to admire and like.

While at OSU Hospital, Anderson was named a contributing editor for ASHP’s International Pharmaceutical Abstracts. He was responsible for contributing information on patents related to hospital and industrial pharmacy.

ASHP Past President David A. Zilz was a University of Wisconsin pharmacy resident and Anderson was assistant pharmacy director at Ohio State when the two first met at an ASHP educational meeting and began an enduring friendship.

“He was truly a wonderful man,” Zilz said.

“Andy had a podium presence that commanded everyone’s attention. He was always an inspiring speaker with his gracious, southern gentlemen demeanor and accent,” Zilz said. “I recall vividly seeing him deliver his ASHP presidential address in the House of Delegates. He was always interested in ASHP and hospital pharmacy affairs. Even many years after his retirement, he would not hesitate to take the microphone in the House of Delegates to state his views on important and controversial issues.”

In 1964, Anderson returned to his native Virginia, accepting the chief pharmacy position at Waynesboro Community Hospital. He gradually acquired staff and launched pharmacy services he deemed essential, such as sterile compounding — including IV admixture and prefilled syringes — infusion pumps, a medication ordering system, and patient-specific medication records. He became a nationally recognized expert in unit dose drug distribution. He also established one of the state’s first clinical pharmacy programs.

Retired ASHP vice president Charles E. Myers was the pharmacy residency program director at MCV Hospital during Anderson’s tenure at Waynesboro Community Hospital. The residency experience included visits to other hospital pharmacy departments around the state, and Myers said Anderson’s pharmacy operation was always part of the tour.

Myers said his residents, who were used to MCV’s “huge operation with numerous pharmacy staff members,” were always left awestruck when they saw what Anderson was accomplishing with his tiny staff and limited space.

“The pharmacy was providing unit dose dispensing with read-aloud double checking of carts by pharmacist–technician teams and was providing IV admixtures out of a closet-sized center,” Myers recalled. “Andy was actually doing progressive things that many in our profession just talked about doing sometime in the indefinite future. That was Andy. He had a get-it-done-now approach driven by a vision of what was right.”

William E. Smith, former pharmacy chief at Long Beach Memorial Hospital in California, said he hosted a site visit for Anderson during the latter’s 1971–1972 term as ASHP president — and made a lifelong friend.

“He would frequently call me from Virginia,” Smith said. “We’d talk about all the innovations we were doing in Long Beach in clinical pharmacy. And he was always trying to figure out how to do them at Waynesboro Community Hospital, a place he was extremely proud of.”

Smith said Anderson always demonstrated the importance of thinking about the needs of those around him.

“That’s an example of how Andy lived, and it’s something that I also tried to adopt,” he said.

Anderson served on ASHP’s board of directors from 1969 to 1975. From 1976 to 1980, he was ASHP’s representative on the federal Joint Commission on Prescription Drug Use, whose goal was to improve the availability and use of postmarketing drug safety information.

ASHP recognized Anderson’s service and accomplishments by honoring him with the 1972 ASHP Award for Achievement in the Professional Practice of Hospital Pharmacy, and, in 1976, the Harvey A.K. Whitney Lecture Award.

Anderson’s Whitney address warned against allowing pharmacy practice to be defined by its dispensing role. He described a vision of pharmacy as “a systematic body of knowledge or theory,

authority recognized by clients, broad community sanction of this authority, a regulative code of ethics, and a professional culture sustained by professional associations.”

ASHP Past President Marianne F. Ivey said Anderson’s Whitney address showed remarkable foresight and immediately motivated hospital pharmacists.

“I recall in my hospital department, many people mentioning his lecture and their intent to take action,” Ivey said. “I think his call to become expert in at least one therapeutic category was the precursor to pharmacy specialties.”

Ivey added that Anderson was candid in his criticisms but always professional and never mean-spirited.

“His intent was that we get better at being professionals. He said we were capable, and we just needed the willpower to do it,” she said. “That’s an enduring message.”

Former AJHP editor William A. Zellmer noted that Anderson’s Whitney lecture was so memorable and persuasive that it was republished three decades later to influence a new generation of pharmacists.

Zellmer, who first met Anderson in 1970, recalled how he confidently chaired a special 1971 session of the ASHP House of Delegates. Anderson shepherded the delegates as they resolved what Zellmer called “the sensitive issue” of suspending ASHP’s requirement that its members belong to the then-named American Pharmaceutical Association.

“Later, I learned of Andy’s deep spiritual grounding — I sometimes wondered if there had been preachers along the way who influenced his powerful oratorical skills,” Zellmer said. He was captured by Anderson’s warm, respectful, thoughtful demeanor and soon numbered himself among Anderson’s many friends in the profession.

“I felt honored and enlarged to be in the orbit of this remarkable pharmacist for more than 50 years,” Zellmer said.

In 1984, Anderson married Joan Elizabeth Balla Kiser, the head pediatric nurse at Waynesboro Community Hospital. Anderson continued to lead the pharmacy department, and he also served for a time as the hospital’s acting administrator before retiring in 1988.

Anderson traveled extensively during his retirement, becoming active in pharmacy consulting and global missionary work, traveling to Romania, Russia, Israel, and Egypt. He was the 1994 recipient of the Dr. Warren E. Weaver Service Award from the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International.

But Smith, who later followed Anderson’s example by retiring to Virginia, said his friend remained true to his beloved home state.

“He took ownership of the beautiful Virginia countryside,” Smith recalled. He would say, ‘I love my beautiful Shenandoah Valley.’”

In 2006, VSHP established the R. David Anderson Distinguished Leadership Award as its highest honor and named Anderson as the first recipient. In 2016, Anderson was named a Fellow of ASHP and awarded an honorary lifetime membership.

Anderson was preceded in death by his first wife, Amanda, his son Robert, and his second wife, Joan. He is survived by his brother John, son Donald, stepdaughter Deborah, daughter-in-law Nancy, grandson Ryan, grandson Matthew and his wife Nicole, and their daughter Riley.

At the family’s request, memorial contributions to honor Anderson may be made to the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International at P.O. Box 24708, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33416-4708.

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