Cover photo for Smiley G. Anders, Jr.'s Obituary
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Smiley G. Anders, Jr.

November 20, 1937 — May 31, 2024

Baton Rouge

Smiley G. Anders, Jr. was born Nov. 20, 1937, in Natchez, Mississippi. His family moved to Baton Rouge when he was 8.

He caught the writing bug in eighth grade after doing a paper about his kid brother dropping an old-fashioned washing machine on top of his head — a yarn that wound up running as a story in the school newspaper.

Year after year, people have started their mornings with Smiley.

His column — a daily collection of funny, odd and nostalgic anecdotes submitted by his many readers and deftly spun into an entertaining whole — captured the spirit of south Louisiana.

After more than 50 years of writing for The Advocate, Smiley Anders died Friday at his home in Spanish Town in Baton Rouge. He was 86.

Anders was the newspaper’s unofficial ombudsman and ambassador. He wrote well over 12,500 columns, inviting readers to be a part of the community’s story.

“For decades, Smiley Anders was synonymous with The Advocate, delighting readers with his column,” said Judi Terzotis, publisher of Georges Media Group. “He had a quick wit and heart of gold. Our entire team is deeply saddened by his passing, but his legacy will endure, not only in our hearts, but in the hearts of all our readers.”

Smiley’s presence extended well beyond his column.

Appropriately named (yes, “Smiley” was his real name), he loved to spread cheer, whether as king of Spanish Town Mardi Gras or hosting his legendary Mardi Gras parties, wearing a tutu in a political satire, dressed as La Catrina as grand marshal of a Halloween parade or as a Lucky Dog vendor at a "Night at the Capitol Park Museum" fundraiser.

“It's kind of hard to take yourself seriously with a name like Smiley,” he liked to say.

In a news release honoring Anders, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said he "brought joy, wit, and a unique perspective," that made him a "cherished voice in our community."

"Smiley's columns were more than just words; they reflected the heart and soul of Baton Rouge," the statement said. "His ability to find humor in everyday life and his genuine connection with our residents made him a trusted friend to many."

“That was the biggest kick I ever got — turned out that was the only thing I could do. I flunked geometry,” Anders said in 2022.

By the time he got to LSU, according to his own self-deprecating version, he was in “Honors English and remedial math.” A professor assigned a book called “Newspaper Days,” by H.L. Mencken.

“It sounded like working for a circus,” Anders said.

After college, Anders became editor of the Shreveport Times Oil and Gas. He then got a job at the Farm Bureau, traveling the state, before landing at The Advocate in 1973 as a business reporter.

He began writing his column three days a week on June 4, 1979.

Those who knew him recall his wit, joie de vivre and incredible memory.

“Everywhere I went in town, people would ask about Smiley. He had an amazing connection with this community,” said Fred Kalmbach, The Advocate’s managing editor. “He was a gifted and funny writer, but more than that, he was just a wonderful person.”

His favorite book was “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and he authored four books himself, collections of his beloved column.

Tributes from readers poured in on Friday.

James Mabus said he thinks his mother, Lorraine Mabus, "has read every Smiley column he has ever written."

"She looked forward to it for as long as I can remember," he said. "She was overjoyed when I bought a house in Spanish Town not only for becoming a homeowner, but because I was going to live in the same neighborhood as Smiley!"

And the memories involved more than just the writing.

"Any time I called, Smiley would drive across the bridge to Brusly Elementary to read to my first graders for Read Across America," recalled Laura Duhe. "One year, he mistakenly showed up on Feb. 1, instead of March 1. He giggled a bit and assured us he’d return in a month. He did and, as always, delighted the kids with a good reading of his favorite, 'And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.'"

Music was important to Anders. His favorite song was Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” He loved music and wrote concert reviews of acts including Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Linda Ronstadt and The Sex Pistols.

During the lockdown days of COVID, local musicians played concerts in his driveway for his neighbors to enjoy.

Though never a smoker, Anders years ago was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the latter stage of his career, he kept working from home even as his health declined — and didn’t stop writing his column until just days before his death.

Anders is survived by his wife, Katherine Scales Anders — known to his readers as "Lady Katherine" — his two children, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a grandson.

A celebration of his life will be held in his honor at a later date.

In an interview last year for a story on his 50th anniversary at The Advocate, Anders summed up his feelings in a simple line: “I'm lucky to have had this life."

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Smiley G. Anders, Jr., please visit our flower store.


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