Stephen T. Anderson


Died August 26, 2019, Niantic, Connecticut

College: Pierson
Major: History, Arts and Letters
Graduate School: Yale School of Music, M.Mus., Music Theory, 1964

Widow: Mrs. Patricia P. Anderson
18 Charles Street
Mystic, CT 06355-2104
Children: Priscilla, 1968; Nicholas, 1972

Grandchildren: August Anderson, 2006; Dora Capobianco, 2005

Stephen Todd Anderson, born in New York City in 1939, died peacefully in Niantic Aug. 26, 2019, of a brain tumor.

Steve graduated with honors from Milton Academy and Yale College. Although a gifted writer, he found his voice in music, earning a master’s in music theory from Yale School of Music, and a diploma in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music. An Episcopal church music director for almost five decades, he held leadership positions at Emmanuel Church (Weston, Conn.), St. Philip’s in the Hills (Tucson, Ariz.), St. Columba (Washington, D.C.), Christ Church (New Bern, N.C.), and St. James (New London, Conn.). He performed significant choral and organ works in classical, gospel, and jazz genres. He composed original choral works “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “Four Angels,” in addition to numerous choral arrangements.

Steve was loved and respected for his humor, kindness, and improvisational skills. He gave scores of unsuspecting children a solid musical foundation by making it fun. He proudly wore silly ties and posted irreverent jokes on the choir room door. Even decades later, parishioners fondly remember his sly improvisations on “The Rainbow Connection (for Jim Henson), “Getting to Know You” (for new members), and “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” at Easter. For family occasions he composed light-hearted odes such as “Eight Times Eight is Sixty-Four which Rhymes with Dante Salvatore.” He overcame a speech impairment well enough to give speeches at concerts, teach high school classes, and tell funny stories at potlucks.

A gifted, lifelong tennis player, Steve was captain of the tennis team his senior year at Yale. His serve had a wicked spin, and he often outwitted more powerful opponents with strategy.

Steve is survived by his wife of 57 years, artist Patricia Potter Anderson; daughter Priscilla Reynolds Anderson; son Nicholas Dean Anderson; granddaughter Dora Anderson Capobianco; grandson August Wyatt Anderson; and niece Helen Anderson Phinney.

A Memorial Service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, at St. James Episcopal Church, 76 Federal Street, New London. Private burial with his parents, Merrill and Dorothy Reynolds Anderson, will be at North Cemetery in Sherman, Conn.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to St. James Music Fund “Music on Whale Oil Row” ( or Avalonia Land Conservancy ( or P.O. Box 49, Old Mystic, CT 06372).

Byles Memorial Home, New London is assisting the family. Please visit to sign the guestbook or to share a memory.

Published in The Day on Sept. 22, 2019

My first week at Yale, I rode out with Mike Pyle on a school bus to the freshman picnic at Hammonasset Beach. I weighed 135 pounds and Mike couldn’t fit through the door of the bus. I was thrilled.

Around 1971, having read the alumni notes for ten years, I decided that Yale wasn’t designed to produce people like me in large numbers. Occasional musicians, writers, actors, filmmakers, artists: their presence was more accidental than deliberate.

Yale persuaded me to get out of engineering. I had heard that engineers were sensible, respected, useful, and prosperous. But it turned out that I couldn’t draw a bolt, given side, front and top views. So Yale nudged me toward music.

Many good teachers. Among my favorites, Ernest Thompson, Oceanography. He loved the boys. “Let me know if any of you ever needs twenty dollars”, he said once.

Priorities in college: my high school girlfriend, Patty Potter; sports and homework. Milestones: age of 8 my mother taught me to play tennis; at 11 my father bought me a grand piano; at 15 I met Patty. You can figure out the rest. We had two wonderful children. They turned out musical, independent, mischievous and a whole lot of fun. My father would have loved them.

I spent some good time at St. Anthony Hall. They were people of substance and character. That’s what I wanted to be.

Quincy Porter, Master of Pierson College, got me into the Yale Music School. Howard Boatwright auditioned me and said afterward, “Young man, I hope you have a lot of money, ‘cause you’re going to need it. You’re competing with people who have worked much harder than you have, and have a whole lot more talent than you do.” Useful advice.

I applied for a Rhodes Scholarship. The man who interviewed me said that I looked pretty good on paper, but I needed to get over stuttering. Ten years later I got into some heavy-duty speech therapy that changed my life for the better.

I worked for 40 years as a church organist and choir director, mostly for the Episcopal Church. They had a reputation for good taste in music, and offered some opportunities for improvisation, arranging, and composing. I had been a jazz musician in high school, and got to know a fine banjo player in the process. I was never bored.

I did a lot of work with children’s choirs. Grew to like them very much. I got interested in their short spans of concentration and the production of a clear, sweet vocal sound.

Had big jobs in Tucson and Washington, DC. After that I worked in smaller places, and have recently been practicing the organ regularly, something I had put off while earning a living. It’s been nice to have more time for music, and less time on the telephone. Louis Vierne, Cesar Franck and J. S. Bach.

Thank you, Milton Academy and Yale, for showing me what the world might be like someday.