Father William R. Anderson Pilot file photo
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When he died in Newport, Vermont of natural causes on Jan. 25, Father William R. Anderson was the second longest ordained priest of the archdiocese; only Father Paul Francis at Regina Cleri is more senior. He was also the third oldest priest; only Msgr. Stanislaus Sypek of St. Adalbert (Polish) Parish, Hyde Park and Father Francis are older.
A Medford native Father Anderson was a son of the late William and Nora (Murphy) Anderson born Nov. 29, 1915. He was graduated from St. John High School Cambridge, later North Cambridge Catholic High School, and attended Boston College before entering St. John’s Seminary. On completion of his seminary studies Auxiliary Bishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on May 1, 1942.
Most of his priestly assignments over the next 47 years of active ministry were at archdiocesan parishes, though between 1946 and 1949 he was assigned as chaplain first of the Academy of Assumption, Wellesley and then of Mount St. Joseph Academy, Brighton.
He was assistant at several archdiocesan parishes: St. Ann, Peabody (1942-1944); St. Joseph, East Boston (1944-1945); St. Margaret, Burlington (1949-1957); and in residence at St. Thomas More, Braintree and St. Andrew, Billerica (1957-1959). He returned to Burlington where he was an assistant from 1959 to 1968 when he was named pastor at St. Ann Parish, West Newbury.
He returned to Boston as pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in the city’s Charlestown section in 1971 and five years later moved west as the second pastor of St. Camillus Parish in Arlington serving from February 1976 to July 1989 when he was granted senior priest retirement status.
Central Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey recalled, “He was extraordinarily kind to me and my classmates of the class of 1978. He welcomed our ordination to the diaconate and generously hosted a reception for us and our families and friends in the lower hall of the church.”
Following his retirement he lived at family homes in Plymouth and since 1998 in Newport, Vt.
Retired Auxiliary Bishop John Boles was scheduled to be the principal celebrant of Father Anderson’s Funeral Mass at St. Camillus Church on Feb. 1. Among those concelebrating were the only surviving member of Father Anderson’s ordination class, Msgr. Paul McManus, Youville House, Cambridge and Father David Meskell, a senior priest of the archdiocese, who also served as the homilist; and the present pastor of St. Camillus, Father James O’Leary.
Father Anderson is survived by his brother, Neil of Sun City Center, Fla. Following the Funeral Mass Father Anderson was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford.