Henry Hill "Harry" Anderson Jr.
1921 - 2020
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Mystic - Henry Hill Anderson Jr. passed away peacefully in Mystic the morning of May 11, 2020. Commodore Anderson was a young man of 98 years. In his beloved Latin, Harry proved, "Quam bene vivas refert non quam diu. . . . It is how well you live that matters, not how long." Harry lived an incredibly full and generous life for almost a century.

"Harry," as he was known to his family and friends, as well as by those who knew him by his legend, was a man of enormous intellect, inspiration, leadership and inexhaustible energy. Known by many as a leader in international sailing circles for more than 60 years, Harry was also a mentor to many, a champion of experiential learning and an historian of rare equal. An adventurer from a young age, Harry sailed his first Newport-Bermuda Race at the age of 15. Harry's passion for the sport of sailing took him along many paths, from sailing as a child on Six Meters in the 1930s, to introducing the Finn dinghy class in the United States in the 1950s with his friend Glen Foster, to serving on the America's Cup selection committee in the 1970s and 1980s. Harry was the Commodore of the New York Yacht Club during the club's last successful defense of the America's Cup in 1980. Harry's achievements and contribution to the sport may never see an equal. Commodore Anderson was a very successful racer, having collected dozens of victories over the years, sailing his many boats of all sizes and varieties. He was a stalwart shipmate whose seamanship skills were exemplary. To the many who had the privilege of racing or cruising or acting in an official manner with Harry, Harry's greatest delight came from the camaraderie and friendships that came from the sport he devoted much of his life to. There is nary a noteworthy body of water upon which Harry did not compete or officiate, or a smart waterfront tavern where he did not raise a glass.

Communicator, prolific writer of countless notes, problem solver, philanthropist, and fun-loving friend, "godfather by proxy" to legions and Uncle to a very special few, everyone – from waterfront rascals and collegiate sailors to kings and princes, gold medalists, sultans and presidents, too - knew him as their cheerful friend Harry. His connections were limitless. One would never be surprised to hear a person's name come up in passing only to have Harry say, "He's my second cousin twice removed." His travels were limitless, too, whether sailing a clipper ship in the Windward Islands, competing on the famed Six Metre "Goose" in the Solent or working on his beloved Boulaceet Farm in Cape Breton, Harry was rarely a sedentary soul. During those travels, Harry would never miss a chance to drop in and visit his many nieces and nephews and give them his wholehearted support in their endeavors. Born June 2, 1921, in New York City, to Henry H Anderson Sr. and Helen James Anderson, Harry had early distinguished colonial antecedents, namely his great-grandfather Henry Hill Anderson, counsel for the City of New York in the 1800s. Harry's great-grandfather, Oliver Burr Jennings, was a Forty-Niner whose ancestor Joshua Jennings settled in Hartford in 1645, concurrently with Jehue Burr, great-grandfather of Col. Aaron Burr of whom Henry H. Anderson Jr. is a collateral descendent (both families settled in Fairfield). Harry is also a descendent of William James of Scituate, Mass., who moved to Newport, R.I. ca. 1680. Brought up in Oyster Bay, N.Y., Harry was also the Commodore of Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, Commode of the Revolting Colonist Outpost and an honorary member of yacht clubs extending from Long Beach, Calif. to Helsinki, Finland. He was a flag officer of nine different yacht clubs.

A graduate of Yale University, Harry completed his studies there in three and a half years, so he could join the United States Army in 1943. He served in World War II as a field artillery captain in Patton's Third Army having landed at Normandy, D-Day Plus 30. He was a part of Patton's historic campaign which helped to liberate Europe from the Nazis. After the war, Harry got his law degree from Columbia University, though he did not follow in the Anderson family tradition to practice law.

Harry always saw sailing as an educational experience and tirelessly supported and promoted it, whether as a yacht club officer, U.S. sailing director, college sailing advocate, Congressional Cup judge, financial supporter or advisor to many sailing organizations. Harry was actively associated with numerous educational institutions including Tall Ships America, University of Rhode Island, Yale University and the U.S. Naval Academy. Anderson chaired the U.S. Sailing Appeals Committee for 25 years, and had a hand in writing a good part of the racing rules of sailing during that tenure.

Harry was a devoted, life-long researcher driven by a compelling curiosity about subjects ranging from the location of Captain Cook's ships on the bottom of Newport Harbor, to the lives of his illustrious antecedents. He participated in comprehensive publications and films about railroad magnate Arthur Curtiss James, another collateral ancestor, and America's third vice president, Aaron Burr. He was determined that those forgotten (James) or maligned (Burr) be accurately documented and assigned their proper places in history.

Anderson's philanthropies included the Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, Fla., his alma mater, where he was trustee for life. His name appears on the school's gymnasium and sailing center. He was long involved as a champion of Yale, class of '42, and University of Rhode Island sailing programs, having donated several fleets of boats and raised funds for sailing facilities, and as an advisor.

A longtime resident of Newport, R.I., Commodore Anderson sat on the boards of Tall Ships America, Seamen's Church Institute, the U.S. Naval War College, the Rhode Island Marine Archeology Project, the Aaron Burr Association, the Fales Committee at the United States Naval Academy and the Foundation for the Preservation of Captain Cook's Ships. Always a volunteer himself, no one worked harder. Anderson had a subtle way of snapping the whip that not only produced results, but brought him respect and admiration. He was often the silent person at the table whose succinct conclusions solved problems. His work continued well beyond the usual retirement age, including being a founding member of the University of Rhode Island Sailing Advisory Council when he was in his 90s, and even in his last month, working on his latest project, a book about William Rockefeller.

Harry's awards and honoraria include Intercollegiate Sailing Association Hall of Fame; National Sailing Hall of Fame; Doctor of Laws from the University of Rhode Island (2009); The Beppe Croce Trophy (International Sailing Federation and International Yacht Racing Union); the Nathaniel Herreshoff Trophy (U.S. Sailing Foundation); Lifetime Service Award (Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association); Congressional Cup Scarlet Blazer; 33rd Congressional Cup (dedicated to HHA Jr); Post Captain's Trophy (North American Station, Royal Scandinavian Yacht Clubs & Nylandska Jaktklubben); Bronze Star U.S. Army; Richard S. Nye Trophy (Cruising Club of America); Henry H. Anderson, Jr. Sail Training Scholarship Fund (American Sail Training Association); Lifetime Achievement Award (American Sail Training Association); W. P. Stephens Award (Mystic Seaport); Henry H. Anderson, Jr. Memorial Library (Seamen's Church Institute).

Over the years and right up until the end, Harry would frequently write notes on an infinite number of topics, often on re-purposed paper and posted in a re-used envelope. It is quite likely that many who are reading this tribute to Harry are smiling as they may have received one or many such notes through the years. Some were pointed in its message; others were anecdotal in their reference, often quoting classic poetry and prose to make their point or deliver the message. All were something to behold and cherished upon reflection. Here is one of Harry's notes to a friend in 2012: "Life's pleasures are to be enjoyed in moderation, and apropos the cruising man, while we are not always borne with swelling sails before a blowing wind, neither do we drag out life struggling with headwinds; or befitting the fortune of the racing man 'behind the foremost, ever before the foremost'. One snatches one's enjoyment of the brief and pleasant hours like a schoolboy in the spring holidays." Harry Anderson's was a life well lived.

Harry was predeceased by his beloved brother, Jim; and is survived by his brother, David; and 45 nephews, nieces and great-nephews and nieces.

Given the restrictions of COVID-19, there will be a small family gathering to lay the Commodore to rest. A memorial "gam" of suitable scale and good cheer will be scheduled when the circumstances allow for Harry's friends to raise a glass to his memory and legacy.

Harry was very generous to causes he believed in. All were focused on the development of young people through experiential learning from being on the water. Gifts, in lieu of flowers, can be sent to any of the causes that were important to Harry: Yale Sailing Association, Ray Tompkins House, 20 Tower Parkway, New Haven, CT. 06511; Ransom Everglades School, Attn: Julie Rosenfeld, 3575 Main Highway, Coconut Grove, FL 33133; Henry H. Jr. Anderson Sailing Endowment, The University of Rhode Island Foundation, PO Box 1700 Kingston, RI 02881; Tall Ships America, 221 3rd Street, Building 2, Suite 101, Newport, RI 02840.

Notes of condolences and reflections can be sent to: New York Yacht Club, Harbour Court, c/o General Managers Office, 5 Halidon Court, Newport, RI 02840 or please visit www.byles.com to post remembrances and photographs.
Published in The Day on May 24, 2020.
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10 entries
November 4, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always. I am from Iona , Cape Breton , NS and was former manager of Highland Heights Inn , 1985-2004 , where Harry & friends spent many evenings enjoying a meal . A true gem of a gentleman. Rest In Peace Dear Harry . Condolences to All his family and friends .
Sheila Mac Neil
June 2, 2020
The Anderson boys at the Adirondack Florida Summer School in Onchiota, NY. Harry is the tallest, front and center with the tartan shirt and suspenders. His brother Jim, is to his left and youngest brother David, is on the porch, far left end.
Cameron Anderson
May 27, 2020
I only knew Harry for the last two years of his life. We were introduced by a family friend within the New York Yacht Club, who suggested I reach out to him for a history project I was working on, wherein I was interviewing veterans of World War Two. I drove up to Mystic from Virginia in the fall of 2018 to meet Harry and was amazed, not only by his war stories, but also by his rare perspective into a forgotten era of American society--the final years of the gilded age. In his lifetime, he witnessed social upheavals that forever changed the structure of our society and our culture. We talked about his unusual upbringing, like how he learned horsemanship from Russian Cossacks who'd fled the Bolsheviks and set up a riding school on Long Island. He recalled sailing to Labrador aboard an old rumrunning ship, still pockmarked with bullets from the prohibition days, and charting coastlines which had only seen marginal exploration. After our interview concluded, Harry took an immediate interest in my project, and we discussed how veterans from World War Two are rapidly disappearing. I shared with him my desires to research and interview soldiers from all areas of the war, and particularly my desire to draw the curtain on the stories of veterans from Poland and Imperial Japan which have never received much attention. Harry decided at that point that he would become my sponsor, and for the remainder of his life, he provided me with invaluable guidance and support as I scoured the globe for untold stories. Two of the stories I've found with his help will become books, and provide answers to some of the war's enduring mysteries. My last phone conversation with Harry was in April. I was providing him with updates on a recent breakthrough in my research, and as always, Harry listened, fascinated by the pursuit of knowledge.
Carson Becker
May 27, 2020
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
Plant Memorial Trees
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Erin W Anderson
May 26, 2020
I know that even though you have a loss, you still have some great memories. I hope those memories will give you comfort in knowing God is with you and your family lean on him in your time of sorrow.
Simone Taylor
May 19, 2020
I talked with Harry, my great friend for at least 25 years, some five days before his death. He was the most important member of the Aaron Burr Association, of which I have the pleasure of serving as President General. He was so kind, gentle, humble, and, yes, held strong beliefs. He was one of a kind. He and I were distant cousins of Aaron Burr, third Vice President of the U.S., from the Fairfield (Ct.) branch of the Burr family.
Stuart Johnson
May 17, 2020
The following is from Joe Daniel who produced a couple of documentaries for Harry. It includes two links to short videos.

About five years ago when Roger Vaughan had just finished his wonderful biography, A Strenuous Life of Harry Anderson, I was asked by Mystic Seaport (the publisher) to produce an enhanced iBook version for Apple. It contained several videos I made of Harry including a short film of him shot over just one day at his farm in Nova Scotia, entitled A Day with Harry. That anyone -- especially at 93 years of age! -- could cram so much into one day was remarkable and it spoke volumes to the ceaseless energy and curiosity of this amazing man.

I also shot and included a series of five short interviews between Harry and Roger as they discussed the experience and content of creating his biography. This morning, after hearing of Harry's passing, I went back into my archives and resurrected those videos and have posted them online for all to enjoy and remember our friend. Here they are:

A Day with Harry

Harry Anderson & Roger Vaughan Interviews

Knowing Harry was quite a hoot. I loved going to dinner and drinking with him although I was the one who always ended up under the table. He was smart, irascible, stubborn, forever curious, hugely generous, privileged, loyal, old-fashioned but loved new technology, conservative as hell but oddly broad-minded at times. He was committed to enshrining many of his heroes (who so often were also his relatives) into the historic record, and to that end he had more irons-in-the-fire than anyone I ever met. I was truly honored to have been included in bringing some of those to fruition.

We'll truly miss you Harry.

Joseph Daniel
Towny Anderson
May 16, 2020
Jekyll Island Little Red Bug
Townsend Anderson
May 16, 2020
Jekyll Island Little Red Bug
Townsend Anderson
May 16, 2020
One of the more remarkable, adventurous lives ever lived. Uncle Harry kept us connected to our family heritage and, indeed, he was a prolific and meticulous historian and genealogist. We miss him.
Townsend Anderson
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