By TYLER MASK
Saturday, Mineral Wells said goodbye to longtime Dunbar Neighborhood Council Director Levon Anders. He was born Aug. 25, 1936, in Point, Texas, and passed away Feb. 22, 2014, at Kindred Hospital in Fort Worth after a battle with cancer. Past Mineral Wells Mayor Clarence Holliman recalls that he did not go down without a fight.
“Levon just kept going, even though he knew how sick he was,” Holliman said. “He did not relate that to anyone except the Lord. He put others before himself.”
Over the past 40 years Anders committed his life to charity, particularly working with the DNC. During his tenure with the 501c3 non-profit organization, his team met countless oppositions with an unwillingness to quit. One of the most dire problems faced by DNC was the day the Dunbar Neighborhood Center burned.
On Dec. 4, 2008, the “age-old” building in the 700 block of South Oak Avenue burned to the ground. The facility served as a central hub for children's programs, food programs and housing for the homeless.
Although the facility was a total loss, Anders stood his ground and planned to rebuild a new community center right where the original center once stood.
“I remember when the DNC burned, the spouse of Anders' best friend Darlene Garrett said. “Immediately, Levon was the strength as we tried to reorganize and get going again.”
The location for planting a new building eventually changed, but the desire to rebuild has not diminished. DNC has had multiple fundraisers and currently resides at its permanent location, 104 South Oak, inside a temporary office.
Another opposition that didn't stop Anders was the budget, Holliman said. Anders was repeatedly hit by lack-of-funding problems.
“All of [the things] he's done for four decades have not been on a shoestring – it's been on less than a shoestring budget,” County Attorney Phil Garrett said.
Despite oppositions, Anders successfully served the people of Mineral Wells for more than 40 years. He had a heart for children, Garrett said, most notably putting on summer camps. He assisted people with substance abuse issues, assisted the homeless and ran a daily food program.
In 2008, Anders was recognized by the Mineral Wells Index as the “Man of the Year,” an award that many believed to be long overdue. But Anders didn't do it for the glory.
"Levon was one of the most unselfish people I ever met,” Darlene Garrett said. “He spent his life taking care of other people. Levon was not interested in gaining recognition for himself. I don't think he ever gave up on anyone. He was a true believer.”
“The Bible says if you want to be great in the kingdom, you must become a servant,” Holliman said. “Levon was a servant to the poor and downtrodden. I don't know if his objective was to be great, I just know he wanted to be somewhere in the Lord's presence when he left this side of eternity. He did a wonderful job for people.”
Anders meant everything to the community, Darlene Garrett said.
“I don't know what will happen now, when you lose your leader, you are at a loss for where you will go,” she added. “We have had dreams of building the community center – Levon was the leader on that. Without his direction and leadership, I just don't know if we will accomplish this. There was nobody like Levon.”
"For the past four decades, Levon has done charitable work for people who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks,” Phil Garrett said. “If all the people that Levon helped lined the streets between his church and the cemetery, not only would both sides of the street be full, but probably two or three people deep.”
His funeral is slated for Friday at 11 a.m. at Mt. Hermon First Baptist Church, where Anders served as a deacon.