COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After a two-year battle with cancer, Ron Anderson passed away Wednesday morning with his family by his side.
Before making a name for himself here in Columbus, Anderson spent a long period of time in Milwaukee working for theater companies and teaching the skill that he had come to love to children of all ages.
The Macon, GA native returned to the Peach State in 1996 to reunite with a friend had made while studying at the University of Georgia.
The Springer Opera House had been successful for quite some time, but the producing artistic director, Paul Pierce, was looking for a change of style. He offered his college friend a position at the Springer for $22,000.
"I would say that is about the best $22,000 anyone has ever spent anywhere," said Pierce.
Anderson came in and began to transform the landscape of the Springer.
"We were doing well, our audience was growing, but we were really just doing plays," Pierce said.
But Ron's point of view of the work was grander, it was broader and changing lives and making children's lives stronger and happier. We became much more productive, we became happier and our audience grew," said Pierce.
Eventually, Anderson earned himself multiple titles at the Springer Opera House, Associate Artistic Director and Director of the Springer Theatre Academy. But some would argue his most important titles were teacher and mentor.
"A would call Ron my mentor, Ron has influenced, in many ways every inch of my life, the entire fabric of it," said one of his students Jens Rasmussen.
Jens worked with Anderson during the 1990's in Milwaukee while doing freelance work in theaters across the country.
He said that even though he had never been to the Chattahoochee Valley he had to follow his mentor Anderson because of one characteristic that his mentor possessed.
"Loyal he was steadfast, he never gave up on us, he was always there," Jens said.
Many of Anderson's other students gathered at the Springer on Wednesday to share stories, look through pictures, laugh, cry and reflect on the life of a man who taught each of them so very much.
The man with the most memories of Anderson, Pierce, said some of his most fond memories were from the performances in a Tuna's Christmas, where they each were able to showcase their skills and renew their friendship each year.
"Ron was perhaps the most important person in my life," Pierce said.
There have not yet been any funeral arrangements set for Anderson. He leaves behind a wife and a son and hundreds of students that will never forget him.