This story was originally published in Volume 38 of the Knightly Knews that you can download here.
More than any other person, Jerry Anderson has built Woodward Academy into what it is today. He has been here from the beginning. Literally. On July 10, 1995, when Woodward Academy opened its door to its first four students, Jerry was one of the original 13 staff members. Twenty one years later, on July 5, 2016, he stepped down as President of the Woodward Youth Corporation (WYC), leaving a legacy in tact that is comparable to none.
When our students walk through one of the four school buildings, they can thank Jerry. Our football team competes at their renovated stadium on Friday nights thanks to Jerry. Our baseball team runs the bases at Knights Field, and our students have jobs with Knights on the Move because of Jerry. Today, Woodward Academy has 262 students on campus and is a known industry leader… thanks to Jerry.
His First Career
Before Jerry was one of the first staff ever hired at Woodward Academy, he was better known as Captain Gerald D. Anderson of the United States Navy. He was born and raised in rural Iowa, graduating in the Class of 1956. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Luther College and later his Masters degree from The George Washington University.
Following college, Jerry enlisted in the Naval Reserve and completed his obligated service at sea. In 1964, then Lieutenant Anderson, accepted a Regular Commission in the U.S. Navy. During the next 27 years, he served on ships at sea, attended schools, and served in assignments ashore at the U.S. Naval Academy, in the Pentagon on the Navy Staff, and in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While at sea, Jerry commanded two Navy ships: the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-32) and USS Leahy (CG-16). He culminated his career as Professor of Naval Science at Northwestern University. Captain Anderson retired from active duty in June, 1991.
In retirement, he spent two years at the NJROTC school in East St. Louis before moving back to Iowa where he spent a year in Iowa Falls. He then moved to Boone, Iowa and began substitute teaching in the behavior room at the high school.
As the 1995 school year was nearing the end, a family friend heard that a “boot camp” was opening at the Woodward State Hospital. Jerry drove the 20 miles, met with the first Executive Director, was interviewed, and started working on July 3, 1995.
Sequel Youth and Family Services
As one of 13 employees, Jerry did everything on a daily basis. He was a counselor, mentor, and taught mathematics to students. In late 1995, he was asked to assume the role of Business Manager, a role he kept until 2000 when he joined the Board of Directors for the WYC and was elected President.
His legacy as President is the history of Woodward Academy. Every expansion project is a direct result of Jerry’s work. He was involved in the Linden Court dormitory expansion projects, and the construction of the Education Center, its Annex, and the Learning Center that is named in his honor. He also acquired and installed the “temporary” school building, known today as the PODS. His work also helped start up each athletic program, the facilities they use, and many employment opportunities for students. His impact on Woodward Academy’s campus cannot be overstated.
When Ryan Santi, Executive Director at Woodward Academy, reflected on Jerry’s career, he is amazed at the reach of his work. “It may take us several years to understand Jerry’s impact on all of us. When I sit back and look at Sequel Youth and Family Services’ current leadership, Jerry’s impact is prevalent. Mandy Moses (CPO), Bill Dean (VP), Mike McFarland (VP), Reggie St. Romain (ED Clarinda), Shawn Hollenkamp (ED WCBS) and myself have all spent significant chunks of our careers at Woodward Academy and with Jerry. Our growth and work toward excellence can be attributed to Jerry’s vision. He has been around to listen, tweak ideas, and help us figure out the best way to get it done. If you have been around Jerry at all you know he is one of the most humble men you will ever meet.”
The Next Chapter
Although Jerry is officially retiring (for the second time), he hopes to remain on the WYC Board and work with the new President to create a smooth transition. Jerry and his wife Karen have been married for 48 years and together have 5 children and 9 grandchildren. He plans to stay busy by fishing, gardening, with church activities, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
Thank you Jerry for dedicating 21 years of your life to building Woodward Academy. As a mentor, counselor, businessman, and historian, your presidential blueprint has impacted thousands of lives and paved the way for an amazing future.