Ligonier Gardens’ Orrin Anderson marks 103rd birthday
Residents and staff of Ligonier Gardens surprised Orrin “Andy” Anderson with a party in honor of his 103rd birthday last week at the continued care facility.
“Andy is a generous, kind man,” said Kim McKinney, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities coordinator. “We were very excited to spend his special day with him.”
While listening to Elvis, Anderson enjoyed cake and opened his presents — a bottle Wild Turkey — he said he enjoys a drink each evening while watching the late news — and a gift card for Eat N’ Park.
Additionally, the staff arranged to have a holly bush planted in his honor when the weather breaks. “Andy is a true gentleman who has had a very interesting life,” said Carolyn Younker, activity director at Ligonier Gardens. “He has a lot of great stories to share.”
Anderson said he was happy to be honored and shared his secret to a long, happy life.
“Be nice to people and don’t get yourself in trouble,” he said. “Live a good life.”
A Blairsville resident, Anderson was born March 1, 1912. He grew up in Mt. Pleasant. He said one of his first memories was the announcement that the United States was joining in World War I.
“We were let out of school early,” he said. “There were two factories in town that has whistles and they blew them and the church bells rang.”
Anderson said his father took him to the railroad station to see the National Guard off.
“I remember their big, round hats and all the American flags,” he said.
He recalled the days when horses and buggies were the norm and very few automobiles were on the road and when he attended the one-room school house with 13 other students.
A 1932 graduate of Ramsay High School, Anderson said he was faced with a decision.
“I had $600 and needed to decide between buying a car and going to college,” Anderson said. “I chose college and it was the best decision I ever made.”
After graduating from Ben Franklin University in Washington, D.C., in 1936, Anderson became an accountant for the Congressional Club.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1946 and then spent several years working for the IRS before opening his own tax consulting office in Blairsville.
Twice married, Anderson has a stepdaughter and two granddaughters.
In his spare time, he enjoyed traveling and frequenting the Ligonier Country Club.
“I’ve been a member for more than 60 years,” said Anderson. “In 2004, they made me an honorary member.”
Anderson was credited with forming the “Garbage Gang” at the club — a group of friends who would meet for rounds of golf and games of gin.
As the accountant for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a friend of the late Art Rooney Sr., Anderson enjoyed complimentary season tickets for Steelers games at Forbes Field, Pitt Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium. “In 1978 and 1979, I saw the Steelers win the Super Bowl,” he said. “I always enjoyed going to the games.”
Though he chose to spend his $600 on college, Anderson made up for passing on the car. A Cadillac fan, he has had 17 different Cadillacs in his lifetime.
Since losing his eyesight to macular degeneration, Anderson no longer drives, but still has a Cadillac at Ligonier Gardens that friends drive him around in.
Anderson continued his birthday celebration by treating his friends and family to a party at the Ligonier Ramada, a tradition he began in 1998.
“For my birthday, I want to be sure to spend time with everyone I care about,” he said. “You never know if you’ll make it to the next year. I’m very proud to have such great friends and family.”
Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.