Dr. Rodney Dean Anderson - A Remembrance

Moving from the west coast to start my career at Florida State filled me with dread. Having never lived in the South I had no inkling of what lay ahead. During my on-campus visit, a whirlwind of meetings, meals and a nervously presented job talk, I got to meet Rodney Anderson. Rod, as he introduced himself, made me feel immediately welcomed. When I moved to Tallahassee, Rod and Marti Trovillion generously opened their home; Rod even lent me his car, a Toyota Tercel station wagon named Samwise Gamgee, if memory serves.

Rod earned his BA from Boston University and his PhD from American University. A gifted historian who published two pathbreaking books, Outcasts in Their Own Lands: Mexican Industrial Workers, 1906-1911 and Guadalajara a la consumación de la independencia: Estudio de su población según los padrones de 1821-1822 as well as prize winning articles in prestigious journals, Rod remained humble about his accomplishments. He would refer to his work in a genuinely self-effacing manner, preferring instead to listen to others discuss their research. He would offer encouraging words, and helpful suggestions for approaching difficult historical questions.

Over the years Rod became my mentor, friend, and ally. His generosity knew no limits, and his kindness no bounds. There was absolutely nothing that Rod wouldn’t do for a student, friend or colleague. Despite being a “Maniac,” as he would sometimes refer to himself for having been born in Maine, Rod came to love the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. He directed the National Endowment for the Humanities funded Guadalajara Census Project where two early nineteenth-century censuses where digitized and transcribed. At the GCP, as the center was fondly known, lifelong friendships were forged among graduate students who, under his thoughtful mentorship, went on to their own notable academic careers. The GCP became the heart of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program at Florida State. Rod welcomed one and all, his inimitable picaresque smile made people feel comfortable instantly.

There are people who impact our lives in professional, scholarly, and personal ways; Rod touched all areas of my life. He embodied the concept of compañero; stalwart ally, loyal friend in good times and in bad, caring and supportive colleague. Rod was this and so much more.

Hasta siempre compañero.

Dr. Robinson Herrera