Age 93 (1928-2022)
Harold Leo Anderson, a Milwaukee entrepreneur in the printing business, born August 3, 1928, died at his home on February 26, 2022. Born in Milwaukee to Elsie (Henning) and Harry Anderson, he was educated at Eugene Field Grade School, Boy’s Technical High School, South Division High School, and Marquette University. He met his future wife Esther Folaron in Dixie’s restaurant when she waited on him and his basketball friends. He recalled that she was impressed by his wit. In 1952, he and Esther, by then a schoolteacher, married and raised a family of five children.
He had difficult circumstances early in life, growing up during the Great Depression with his father spending much of Harold’s childhood and teen years in the VA hospital. However, he never saw it that way. Throughout his life he rarely complained about any person or problem, always grateful for everything he had. He was the first in his family to go to college, graduating from Marquette University School of Journalism in 1953. After graduation he worked at Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company, first in a job starting and editing a company newsletter, and then running a new printing department .
Despite his parents’ and in-laws’ misgivings, in 1956 he founded a printing company (later Anderson Graphics), being one of the first to utilize a new paper plate technology to offer offset printing. The company later became a full-service printer, providing four-color sheet fed printing, bindery, and typesetting. Starting out as a small storefront on East Lincoln Avenue, the company grew and moved several times to larger locations. Harold relocated the company to downtown Milwaukee in 1960, bought a building in 1968, built a new plant in 1980 at 521 North 8th Street and a second, larger one in 1990 at 254 N. Emmber Lane.
The company was truly a family business. His wife worked there, as did all his children at one time or another, along with other relatives and dozens of loyal non-family members. Harold and Esther were very generous, donating printing to needy groups and individuals and helping those in need. The company was profiled in a 1984 Business Journal article entitled, “Anderson Graphics Offers Quality, Humor, Caring,” which summed up Harold and Esther’s philosophy.
Harold’s sense of humor was legendary and is reflected in the many joke-filled cards, notes, lists, posters and emails he created. In high school he created a fictional character named “Hoagy Sobocowicz” and penned playful jokes, stories and comments about him. The name was on one of his “classic joke” business cards that also said, “No phone, no address, no business, no worries, no money, no prospects.” Over the last several years he used the Hoagy pseudonym in a monthly humorous group email titled “Hoagie Sobocowicz Musings and Observations.” Harold closed his business as he neared 80 but continued his humorous traditions in his Christmas cards and emails until the end.
Words that describe him: kind; loving; whip-smart; funny; unpretentious; family man; entrepreneur; true gentleman; graceful until his last day. He was a gentle soul with such a positive attitude that kept him going for so many years. His children could not ask for a better role model. He will be so sorely missed. Now he lives in our hearts.
He leaves behind five children, Julie (Bruce) Buchanan, Nancy (Randy) Wenzen, Kathy Anderson (Doug Parker), Tom Anderson, and Laurie (Mike) Calbaum, nine grandchildren, Ryan Wenzen, Lindsey (Dan) Rohde, Rebecca Buchanan, Emily Calbaum, Alyssa Parker, Jacob Calbaum, Andrew Buchanan, Olivia Parker, Sarah Calbaum, and three great-grandchildren, Abby, Mia, and Evelyn Rohde. He is predeceased by his wife Esther, his parents, his sister Dorothy Reinke, and brother Robert Wagner.
Harold wrote his own obituary for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He even allowed his children to comment in his newspaper obituary, but he warned them that if they said anything about him, to “just, this is a family newspaper.” The following are Harold’s words:
“I AM DEAD!
Reports of my death are not greatly exaggerated. They are not exaggerated at all. So, please get on with your life but know this about me: I was born in 1928; educated in Milwaukee at Eugene Field Grade School, Boy’s Technical High School, South Division High School and Marquette University. I married Esther Folaron on Thanksgiving Day, 1952. We had four girls, one boy and a female dog named Rover. Esther passed away in the year 2000 and I missed her. Rover passed away before that and I missed her too but not as much as my wife. In 1956 Esther and I started a printing business. Anderson Graphics lasted 51 years. Six years after my wife died, I met Terry Hodach. She was my friend and companion for six years until she passed away. My sister, Dorothy Reinke, and my brother, Robert Wagner, passed away before I did. That’s the story of my life and it’s been fun. Lesson to be learned: Whatever you do, have fun. Let’s hear it for Dr. Steven Port who kept me alive all those extra years.”
Published by Heritage Funeral Home – Greenfield from Mar. 9 to Mar. 10, 2022.