December 1, 2023

Justus D Anderson


Justus D Anderson, 89, of Seekonk, MA, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on October 30th. A long-time educator, Jay was the Director of Guidance at Seekonk High School for more than three decades where he convinced many students they were good enough to go to college when they may have believed otherwise. Jay made steadfast connections to faculty, staff, students, and the custodians, who were among his favorite people in the building. In 1979, long before community service programs were common, Jay developed the Independent Studies Program which provided seniors at the school the opportunity to, as he said, “learn by doing.” Students volunteered once a week at such places as the RI School for the Deaf and RI Hospital. By the 1990s, approximately one-third of the senior class participated in the program. Before his retirement in 1998, Jay created the Seekonk High School Memorial Garden, a lasting gift of flowering trees and shrubs that continue to grow next to the school.

For many years, Jay taught at Providence College in the Graduate Studies in School Counseling Program on the Newport Naval Base campus; he drew on his experience as a high school guidance counselor and impressed upon students the importance of being a good listener to counsel effectively. Many of these graduate students went on to serve as guidance counselors in K-12 schools throughout Rhode Island. Jay kept in touch with them regularly, continuing to offer advice, while learning just as much from them over the years.

As someone who moved around a lot as a kid, Jay attended 11 different schools from first grade in Cleveland, OH, to several years in the public schools in New York City where he and his brother, Bud, frequented the Boys Club in Forest Hills and their love of sports flourished, and, finally, Allandale High School in Rochester, New York where he graduated in 1952. Jay experienced being the new kid on the block many times and developed a keen sense of what it means to be the underdog. This informed his relationships with others as well as his approach to education: he understood how critical it was that people feel encouraged, respected, and, ultimately, safe in places like school. “See the wonderful influence you had on all of us,” Superintendent Raleigh Buchanon wrote to him just before his retirement from Seekonk High School when Jay was once again selected as the faculty member students indicated had played an important role in their achievement in high school. He had a similar impact on his children and grandchildren whom he always encouraged to believe in themselves and to be kind and listen to others.

In addition to teaching, Jay performed extensive volunteer work throughout his lifetime and was the recipient of the President’s Call to Service Award in 2014, signed by President Barack Obama, for his many years at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown, RI. There, he worked in the visitor’s center or could be found cutting the lawns on the property. On many occasions, he brought his grandchildren to help staff the information desk and walk the beautiful trails.

An accomplished athlete throughout his life, Jay shared his love of sports with his children and grandchildren and was a frequent spectator at their ball games, track meets, and judo and tennis tournaments. He served as a basketball coach, both at the high school level and as a volunteer with the YMCA youth league. For years, he was an avid runner and participated in road races from the Brew Run on Cape Cod, where he spent many summers, to the 10k Along the Beach in Newport. In his early twenties, Jay bought a skiff and worked as a shell fisherman off the waters of Warren, RI, where he grew to love the salt air and taste of quahogs. For more than sixty years he and his shell fishing buddies gathered each summer for a clambake. From his early years helping out on his grandparents’ farm in Gates Mills, OH, Jay loved to garden, and later grew enough tomatoes, squash, and beans in his back yard to share with his neighbors for many summers.

Other things Jay will be remembered for: vanilla ice cream cones; the hand-written notes he sent weekly to family, friends, and former students; blue Volkswagen Beetles; a walk along the ocean on a brisk October day; the Boston Celtics, especially the Bob Cousy and Larry Bird years with Johnny Most “High Above Courtside” announcing the games on AM radio; leisurely dinners on the sun porch with family on Cape Cod; Erroll Garner and Dave McKenna on jazz piano; and gazing onto the salt marsh from his back porch with his wife, Jean, by his side.

Jay graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1959, attended Stanford University where he received an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling in 1964, and was awarded a Doctorate in Education from Nova University in 1974. He served as 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army (1959), stationed in Fort Lee, Virginia, and served 6 months active duty, followed by several years in the Army Reserve.

Born October 7, 1934 in Delaware, Jay was the son of the late Justus Doane Anderson and Elizabeth Hodell Anderson Rhines of Barrington, RI. Jay leaves behind his wife, Jean, his three children, Lynne, Betsy, and Justus Anderson, son-in-law Erik, daughter-in-law Marina, grandchildren, Lilly, Sam, Callie, and JD, all of Massachusetts, his younger brother Hodell “Bud” Anderson and wife, Gina, of Dennis, MA and Vero Beach, FL, and many nieces, nephews, stepchildren and step-grandchildren.

A true patriarch who was devoted to his family, “Bubba,” as his grandchildren call him, will be missed by all.

His calling hours will be held on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, from 4-7 PM in the PERRY-MCSTAY FUNERAL HOME, 2555 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a donation on Jay's behalf to the Friends of National Wildlife Refuge of RI to support a cause Jay held so dear in his heart:

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