Anderson Logan smiled the whole time.
He smiled before the Sunday celebration began. People came out of the rain into the Nora Stewart Memorial Nursery School, filling the small space ornamented with books and toys. Reporters interviewed him, looking to find out why he was the first person the school designated as a “community hero.”
Logan didn’t really say. He said he was 93 and feeling great. He talked about his grandmother, Molly McGuire, who was named a “mother” of the nursery when she turned 100 for the service she provided. He talked about the house he built on Worley Street and how he had been the Grand Patron of the Eastern Stars, an organization of master Masons.
But he didn’t specify why the nursery’s board honored him as a hero in Columbia. He left that for others to tell.
“He is the type of person that if you ever need anything, he’ll always be there,” said Princella Wilson, a cousin who drove from Kansas City for the event.
Friends and family honored Logan at the nursery school’s first Community Hero Celebration, an event to raise funds for the nursery and recognize Black History Month. The nursery, which began in 1933 as Columbia’s first nursery school for black children, had a fund-raiser its board hopes to hold annually. United Way will match donations up to $5,000.
Logan smiled when nursery school students sang songs. He has supported the nursery through the years and helped people, both financially and emotionally, get through college.
A fellow member of his Masonic Lodge recognized he was the oldest living member and well-known for his service with the fraternal organization.
He smiled as Betty Cook Rottmann talked about his days working for MU. Logan became a driver for UM President Frederick Middlebush and the Board of Curators in 1935. In addition to his service for Middlebush, he would pick up board members from all over the state and drive them to meetings. Logan said he was the first black supervisor of MU’s Red Campus. He retired in 1977.
Logan smiled sheepishly as Beulah Ralph told stories revealing his “flirty” personality. One time Ralph went to Las Vegas with Logan and his wife, Emma.
“We would go out to eat, and he’d ask all the waitresses — with Emma sitting right next to him — what time they were getting off,” Ralph said, to laughter from the audience.
Logan beamed as the Rev. Daryl Williams from St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church addressed the crowd. A lifelong member of the church, Logan said he’s never missed a Sunday. Williams said Logan has been a steady inspiration in the two years Williams has preached there because of the breadth of his experience and his constant joviality.
Williams said the event was a positive start in the community, but said Columbia should do more to honor people of Logan’s caliber.
“I’m not sure what can be done to honor 93 years of service, but I know he and people like him need to be acknowledged a lot more,” Williams said. “The entire city should know all the things he’s done.”