Harry 'Hunk' Anderson, art collector and donor, dies at 95

Mary Patricia Anderson Pence, left, Harry (Hunk) and Mary Margaret (Moo) Anderson in their home, where many of their artworks were displayed before they donated them to establish the Anderson Collection on the Stanford campus. Mary is the Andersons' daughter. Photo by Linda Cicero

Local art collector and philanthropist Harry "Hunk" Anderson, who with his wife Mary Margaret and daughter Mary Patricia donated more than 100 works of 20th century American art to establish the Anderson Collection at Stanford, died Feb. 7 in his home. He was 95.

The Andersons announced in 2011 that they would donate 121 works by 86 artists to the university, with Stanford in charge of constructing a free-standing building to house the collection. The Anderson Collection opened its doors in 2014.

By that time, the Andersons had already donated much of their collection, which once numbered more than 1,200 pieces of art, to various museums, including Stanford, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

With Mr. Anderson's death, the art world has lost a fervent champion. "Hunk Anderson had an infectious enthusiasm and passion for art, and for sharing art to benefit society broadly," Stanford President Emeritus John Hennessy said in a written statement issued today.

"He just lit up whenever he described what each work meant, and how it inspired creativity," Mr. Hennessy said. "It was this shared passion that bonded us, as we met through our mutual interest in visual arts.

"Hunk's insistence that the family's remarkable collection go to a place that would curate it in perpetuity, so that it could be used, shared and seen, reflected his philosophy that art can and should inspire all of us. All of us at Stanford will always have the deepest affection for Hunk as a generous, big-hearted man."

The Andersons -- widely known as Hunk and Moo -- began collecting art after a 1964 visit to the Louvre in Paris. They were struck by the force of the art they saw, Mr. Anderson said at a 2013 event in their home, where a stunning range of artwork had been on display until it was moved to the Stanford campus the following year.

The experience left a lasting impression. "I guess we had a couple of extra drinks on the plane coming home," Mr. Anderson recalled in 2013. They started talking about starting their own art collection at that point, he said, adding that five decades later, "our plate runneth over."

When the Andersons began collecting artwork, Mr. Anderson was still working at Saga Corporation, a food service company he co-founded with two friends when the young men were attending Hobart College in New York. That's the work that brought the Andersons to the Peninsula in 1962, when the company moved its headquarters to Palo Alto, then to Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, where Quadrus is now located.

Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife, Mary Margaret; his daughter, Mary Patricia "Putter" Anderson Pence, an art adviser in Los Angeles; and a granddaughter, Devin Pence, a Stanford Graduate School of Business student.

According to a statement from Stanford, the family plans a private burial, but intends to host a celebration of Mr. Anderson's life in the spring.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Anderson Collection at Stanford University online. Checks can also be made out to the Anderson Collection at Stanford University; mail to: Aimee Shapiro, Anderson Collection at Stanford University, 314 Lomita Drive, Stanford, CA 94305.

The Almanac will publish more about Mr. Anderson and the Andersons' legacy of art shared with the world in its next issue.

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