Marion County lost one of its most important friends this weekend even if only a handful of its residents knew his name.
Les Anderson, an amiable giant of community journalism, died of a heart attack Saturday while en route to a Wichita hospital. He was 62.
Les never worked in Marion County, but his influence permeated journalism here. A professor since 1977 at Wichita State University, he was mentor to generations of aspiring journalists, including interns and staffers at this paper and at other publications in the county.
A publisher himself from 1975 until 2001, he owned the Ark Valley News in Valley Center until he sold it to a former student. His work there and at Wichita State gave him the perfect platform to express his passion for good journalism and the role it plays in communities.
Both as an outstanding practitioner and as an academic cheerleader and sounding board, he tirelessly served weeklies and communities through the region via advice and example.
Legendarily laid back about everything but journalism, he possessed a wicked sense of humor. A classic Les Anderson moment occurred on the day of dedication for new journalism facilities he had played a key role in developing at Wichita State. Satirizing the prevalence of “naming rights” over gifts to institutions, he affixed a small plaque to one of the stalls in the new restrooms, proudly proclaiming it a memorial in his honor.
Les’s true memorial resides in the hearts and souls of countless journalists he helped motivate both as a professor and as a publisher. We may write “—30—” on his time among us but can never do so on what he left us.
— Eric Meyer