HUMANS OF CHEROKEE COUNTY: Tom Anderson
Editor’s note: This is one of an occasional series of articles that draws attention to ordinary Cherokee County residents and their extraordinary lives.
Hiwassee Dam – Self-employed construction worker Tom Anderson hopes to be known as nothing more than an honest and upright person.
“I was born June 21, 1954, in McCaysville, Ga. I was raised in Culberson in a very humble environment. I went to Ranger Elementary School and Hiwassee Dam High (School). I had a brother named Ricky, who passed away at age 51, and I have a sister named Marietta McKinney,” Anderson said.
“My dad was a disabled veteran. He was discharged from the service because of a disability before the Veterans Disability Act was formed. It was hard for him to find work because nobody would hire a disabled vet.
“That was probably one of the reasons our lifestyle was the way it was. We were poor to today’s standards, but we really didn’t know it. Through it all we were never hungry, always had plenty to eat, a place to sleep and good clothes to wear.
“I started work in the summertime at the young age of 12. I worked in tomato and tobacco fields. The summer after 10th grade, I worked in Atlanta for my cousin, who was a paint contractor. The very next summer, I worked for him again. I graduated in 1972, and I didn’t go to college.
“We didn’t have a lot to do during my teenage years. Of course, there weren’t any cell phones, computers, Snapchat or anything. We pretty much entertained ourselves with hunting and fishing. My brother, best friend Stephen and I all went opossum hunting often. We sure had a love for old cars, especially hot rods.
“I graduated in May and married that fall in October. My wife, Ava, is my high school sweetheart, and this October we will be married 44 years. We have two daughters, Amanda and Tasha. Both have paralegal degrees. Tasha is now a pre-kindergarten teacher, and Amanda works for the clerk of court in Murphy.
“I have three grandsons. I’m thankful the Lord blessed us with a wonderful family. I’m a self-employed construction worker. I’ve done this for almost 44 years now. The Lord has blessed us with a very successful business, and a lot of hard work has gone into it.
“I want to thank the Lord for the good health he has given us – not only me, but my family – for all these years. My favorite Scripture is found in Romans 1:16: ‘ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.’
“I have seen a lot of changes growing up. I saw the first man on the moon on television, saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show and I’ve always had a love for music. Bluegrass, gospel and Southern gospel music are what I love to listen to and to play. I play base guitar and flat-top guitar.
“My grandpa was probably the biggest influence in my life. I remember him telling me constantly, ‘Truth and honesty are the best policy.’ He always wanted to drill that in me.
“Several people have been positive influences when I look back on my life. One, Dr. Bill Gossett, influenced my life with the character and integrity he had. I was a young adult when I met him, and I did a lot of work for him. He influenced my life by just telling me things a young man needed to know.
“His daughter gave me a picture he had in his office. The name of the picture is ‘Plow a Straight Row.’ The picture is of a man pointing down a straight line to his son, who has plowed. It’s not so much the picture, but the message behind it. He was really a big influence throughout my life, and I had a lot of respect for him.
“I want to be known for being a simple man of integrity who’s truthful. I’ve tried to teach my children right from wrong and instill biblical standards in them. I feel like I’ve succeeded because of the lives they live now. Again, I want to be remembered as an honest and upright person, nothing more.”
If you would like to nominate a local resident for “Humans of Cherokee County,” please email firstname.lastname@example.org.