Pro-Life Anderson with League National Director Joe Scheidler in the 1980s
I knew Charles F. Anderson even before he had his first name officially changed to “Pro-Life.”
Pro-Life Andy was so tired of never seeing the word “pro-life” used in news stories — but always the weasel-word, “anti-choice”—that he went to court and had his name changed so the press would have to use “pro-life” whenever he did something newsworthy—which was often.
In fact, when Collins Publishers sent out 200 photographers to capture “A Day in the Life of America,” the day being May 2, 1986, they did a two page spread on Andy praying in his front yard. He was surrounded by six large pro-life signs leaning against his house and car, as he held a crucified doll in one hand and his rosary in the other.
In the photograph he is wearing his trademark white cowboy hat with the red badge on the front reading, “Protect Life.” The caption explains that Andy goes to church every morning at 7:30 and then hits the streets of Reno to campaign against abortion.
Andy said he had spent twenty years in the military but had never fought so hard “…as I am doing now. There’s a World War III against the unborn that’s going to explode one day. People say I’m crazy and I say ‘Yes, I’m crazy about life.'”
The photographer, Dana Fineman, said that when the pictures of Andy had been taken, Andy went right on praying for another half-hour.
On the copy of the book Andy gave me during one of his visits to Chicago, he wrote: “To my loving pro-life brother, Joseph M. Scheidler. May God accomplish His will on earth in us, through us, by us, and in spite of us and our weak, sinful human nature.”
Once when I was on a layover in Reno, Andy appeared at the airport to meet me and handed me a teddy-bear dressed in fatigues. I still have this uniformed bear in my office as one of my prized possessions. Dozens of children have played with it. The bear even has a name tag on a chain around his neck and two carefully placed openings in his cap for his ears to fit through.
Nearly everyone in the Pro-Life movement knew “Pro-Life” Andy, always dressed in his black suit, red shirt and white cowboy hat. He had many fans, not least of which was Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former abortion doctor, who wrote glowing of Andy in book, The Hand of God. Nathanson said:
I noticed that he turned up at virtually every major pro-life convention at which I was the designated main speaker. When I met him the third or fourth time, I drew him aside and inquired of him why he wore that curious hat with all the literature on it. He grinned at me then explained that he was “Pro-Life Andy,” an Air Force retiree. He identified himself as a walking testament to the pro-life cause, and dedicated his entire life to the cause after he’d left the Air Force… and regretted only that he could do more.
Pro-Life Andy Anderson died on October 19 at the age of 84, and there will never be another quite like him. But just try to imagine all the little voices that greeted him when he arrived, just as Congressman Henry Hyde said they would. What a two-page spread that would make.