Nels Alexander Anderson IV passed away on Thursday, June 18, 2020, at the age of 77 due to complications from his battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Nels died peacefully at home with his loving partner Gladys Bishop and her daughter Heidi Hawk by his side.
Nels was born in Parsons, Kansas on November 10, 1942 and was the first-born child of Nels Alexander Anderson III and Shirley Jane (Fletcher) Anderson. He grew up in Topeka, Kansas with his three younger brothers – Kim, Fletcher and Charles.
He helped his mother raise his brothers from a young age, and was always engaged with the family. One of Nels’ favorite childhood activities was catching & training chipmunks. He was highly creative and got his first job in high school as an Art Director for Hallmark Cards. Prior to graduating from Topeka High School, he served in the Army as a cook. After graduation he moved to Atlanta, Georgia with close friend Jerry “The Goose” Godbey to attend the Atlanta College of Art and Design. His focus started as fine art painting, but he found his true calling when he discovered motion pictures.
Nels was an influential presence in the Atlanta area film, video and television production industry for over half a century. A talented cameraman and graphic artist, he mentored many young news cameramen during his tenure as Chief Photographer at WQXI/WXIA (Channel 11) TV, and later at WSB (Channel 2) TV. During this time Nels married Joan (Sack) Anderson. They had one son together – Christopher “Colt” Anderson.
His first film “Talking Toilets” won first prize at the inaugural Piedmont Arts Festival. Nels met and married a fellow art student; Suzanne (Stearns) Anderson. He worked for WSB & WXIA TV stations in Atlanta as Chief Photographer for over a decade, covering Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement at all of their historic events.
COMPRO Productions – an Atlanta Film Production Company – was formed when Nels joined forces with 5 other friends in 1977. They started as a documentary film company, then segued into Television commercials for big-name brands, including Coca Cola, IBM and Delta Airlines. During his time at COMPRO, Nels went on to create films for several international airline companies and spent years travelling the world. During this time, he married COMPRO’s Marketing Director Susan (Bodiford) Anderson. They had one son together – Nels Alexander Anderson V.
In 2004, Nels moved back to Topeka to be near family after surviving a massive stroke. He began to mentor and counsel other stroke victims; while simultaneously going through rehabilitation himself. Prior to retirement, he worked for the City of Topeka TV station as their Graphic Designer.
Nels had a beautiful soul, loved people, had a great sense of humor and made many friends throughout his life. He spent a lot time involved in the Boy Scouts of America, regularly went fishing, and loved travelling throughout the Continental United States.
Nels was preceded in death by his parents and by his brother Fletcher Allen Anderson. He is survived by his son Christopher “Colt” Anderson, daughter-in-law Rosemary (Parent) Anderson and granddaughters Rachel and Kristen Anderson of New York; Nels Alexander Anderson V, daughter-in-law Jennifer (White) Anderson, and granddaughter Rebecca “Beck” Anderson, of Texas.
There will be a burial for family members on Saturday, June 27, and a Celebration of Life later in the evening in Topeka, KS. For more information, please contact Nels Anderson V at 404-447-0787.