By Cecily Markland
When Bishop Robert “Bob” Anderson couldn’t find anyone in his Mesa 28th Ward to fill a welfare assignment at the Bishop’s Storehouse, he says, “I sent myself.”
Shortly thereafter, he signed on as a full-time missionary at the Bishops’ Storehouse. That was 12 years and three mission calls ago, and Bob, 79, is poised to start on his fourth mission there this year.
Before his missions at the storehouse, Brother Anderson had served two stake missions and, as a young man, had served a full-time mission to the California Fresno mission.
Today, as a Church Services Missionary, he works 30 to 40 hours a week, using skills he had built his career on.
“I drove truck for 45 years and had experience driving a fork lift,” Brother Anderson says. “I had time to spend, and it’s something I love to do. I love working with the truck drivers.”
He now helps in the cannery and dry pack warehouse, “driving the fork lift, helping keep the storehouse stocked and loading four or five trucks a week.”
Seldom, over the past 12 years, has anyone else had to load the trucks that take welfare food orders to outlying areas.
Born and raised in Mesa, Bob and his wife, Marlene, raised six children in the Mesa community and still live in the same 28th Ward (now Miller Ward) area. They have 32 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.
“My family means the world to me,” he says. He and Marlene have cared for her mother for the past 16 years. In addition to spending as much time as possible with his family, he has also devoted 15 years to working on family history. He has served as a family history consultant and is actively involved in indexing and arbitrating as well, having done more than half a million names.
The only member of the LDS Church on his father’s side, Brother Anderson’s mother was an Ellsworth, her father was Edmund Ellsworth, one of the early LDS pioneers who settled in the Mesa area. He credits his activity in the Church and his testimony of the gospel to his grandmother. “I moved in with my grandmother when I was 16 and she sent us to Church,” he says.
In addition to his missionary service, Brother Anderson has filled a number of other ward and stake callings, including as a bishop, stake high councilor, high priest group leader, family history consultant, ward clerk, and financial clerk “for years and years.”
He also has been active in the community, and he continues to work, as he has for many years, as a referee for high school basketball, track and other sports in Mesa, Tempe and Chandler.
Brother Anderson says he also plans to continue his work at the Bishops’ Storehouse. After all, he says. “It is the Lord’s work,” and adds, “I love it there and will keep working until I fall over or until they tell me to stop, I guess.”