Erma Anderson Oliver

COLUMBIA — Erma Anderson Oliver's mark on Columbia won't be going away anytime soon. According to her daughter and an article published in the Columbia Daily Tribune in 1974, Oliver was one of the organizers of Columbia’s first kindergarten classes at Benton School.

“I was the reason she did it,” said her daughter Judy Johnson. “I had been in a little preschool. I had been exposed to a part-time school situation and I wanted to go to school, so she decided she would start the kindergarten.”

As a member of three separate PTA groups for a total of 29 years, Mrs. Oliver spent a good part of her life caring for children, both those of others and her own.

“Mom was very involved in the school system,” said her son Marc Anderson.

Mrs. Oliver died Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010. She was 94.

She was born on Jan. 22, 1916, in Gordonsville to Erwin and Emilie Vogelsang. Mrs. Oliver married Milton Orlie Anderson on Oct. 3, 1937. The couple had three children, Judy, Wayne and Marc, before Anderson was killed in a plane crash in 1948. Johnson said her mother did her best not to let her husband's death affect the lives of her children.

“She at one time told me, ‘I could have sat around and felt sorry for myself, but I have three little children that depended on me, so I went on for them,’” she said.

In 1951, Mrs. Oliver married Charles Edward Oliver, an accountant in Columbia. They had two children, Charles Jr. and William.

Marc Anderson said his parents worked for the community without expecting any compensation or recognition. After Mrs. Oliver retired from the PTA, the Columbia Daily Tribune published an article about her 29 years of service.

“Both my mom and my dad were two of the most hard-working individuals that I know, and they would never take credit for anything,” Anderson said. “This article that was written about my mom really surprised her.”

Oliver was also a very active member of Trinity Lutheran Church, serving on its building committee.

“She always leaned on her faith in God to help her through difficulties,” Johnson said.

Near the end of her life, two of her sons, Bill and Wayne, lived with her. Anderson said she wanted to stay in her own house as long as she could.

“They were a real godsend,” he said. “That allowed us to keep her in the home in her last years of her life.”

She is survived by a daughter, Judy Johnson of Merriam, Kan.; four sons, Wayne Anderson of Columbia, Marc Anderson of Columbia, Charles Oliver Jr. of Boulder, Colo. and William Oliver of Columbia; a brother, Robert Vogelsang; a sister, Vernice Baumstark; four grandsons; seven great-grandchildren and four great-great granddaughters.

Her husband from her first marriage, Milton Orlie Anderson, and her husband from her second marriage, Charles Edward Oliver, died earlier.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Good Shepherd Lutheran School, 2201 W. Rollins Road, Columbia, MO 65201. Visitation will be at noon at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2201 W. Rollins Road. Services will follow at 1:30 p.m.