James Teo Anderson was one of 9 children born to Douglas and Nannie Pecoullia [nee Jones] Anderson. The youngest of 6 sons -- Glenn, Douglas, Lit, Wil, and Forest -- he was a bonafide "mama's boy" through and through. And he was also a heroic protector and supporter of his 3 younger sisters -- Nan, Annie Mae, and Louise.
A natural born maverick and trail blazer, he became the first of his siblings not to attend the Episcopal school when he enrolled in public school at the Franklin County Training School. And in another break with tradition, he left high school to enlist in the Army where he served with distinction.
Like his father, Teo was a born innovator and businessman. At the age of 9, he launched a profitable shoeshine business. And this was just the beginning of many entrepreneurial ventures. He was the first black man in the county to own and operate a series of businesses including a barbershop, funeral home, record store, and shoe store. He opened "Robin's Grill,"a restaurant named for his beloved daughter; a nursing home, and laundromat.
He rented jukeboxes and pool tables to cafes, and billiard halls in the area. And he invested in real estate all over Franklin County amassing over 40 rental properties. He also worked as a substitute teacher and bail bondsman. Not all of these endeavors were successful, but Teo never let that stop him from going for it full throttle.
As the "start up" king of Louisburg, it was pretty clear that he had a head for business, but he wanted to show people he was a scholar as well. So he enrolled at Saint Augustine's College (now university) in 1965. As a husband, father, and business owner he still commuted to Saint Aug everyday. He graduated in 1968 with a degree in History. How he found time to pledge the Zeta Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in spring of 1972 remains an unsolved mystery.
James wasn't just an activist. He was an architect of the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina before it had such a noble name. He was the first and most successful black entrepreneur in Franklin County, and a life-long leader in the Democrat Party.
As a lifelong member, usher and trustee at Nelson Chapel Baptist Church, he put his time and energy where his faith was. And the fruit of his devotion to his church family stands today as a great testimony. Even as his health declined, he was still excited to attend service and often asked about it several times during the week to make sure he didn't miss it.
He was a warrior, a shot caller, and a force to be reckoned with in every arena of life.
He had the courage of a lion, as well as the wit and wiles of a fox. And he also had exceptionally good taste as evidenced by his marriage to Edith Faylor Alston on November 22, 1956.
Teo and Edith met in Sunday school, from which he contrived to walk her home as often as possible. Her radiant beauty, luxurious long hair, and gentle personality won his heart immediately.
Theirs was a long distance romance at first, she in college and him in the military. But ultimately they settled in their beloved hometown of Louisburg and became the proud parents of two lovely daughters, Betty Jean and Tamani Robin.
Edith Alston Anderson spent 6 decades sowing into their marriage every virtue and cultivating every duty the Bible commands of a wife. And she reaped a bountiful harvest near the end of her life when dementia struck and Teo protected her with every ounce of love and strength he had in him.
And when she left us, he continued to honor her by serving as an honorary member of her church, St. Matthias Episcopal Church. He oversaw the upkeep of that tiny but important historical landmark until his health declined.
Teo was successful because his work was also his hobby: Start a new business. Make money. Buy a car. Repeat. And his happy place was behind the wheel of one of his many, many automobiles. He owned more than 250 cars over the course of his lifetime. And there are currently more than 20 vehicles of various vintages scattered around the county with his heart-prints all over them.
When his bride departed suddenly in March of 2021, all of the real estate she occupied in his heart was simply too empty for him to bear. Illness took him, but not without a lot of cooperation from him. He was ready to be reunited with his Edith.
To cherish his memory, Teo is survived by: daughters, Betty Jean Woods, Tamani Robin Powell (William); grandchildren, Keith Woods (Jennifer), Kimberly Woods, Joplin Patterson, Kelsey Powell, Trey Powell; great-grandchildren Lloyd Gomes, Sydney Woods, Jordan Gomes and Skylar Wood; sisters, Nan Dunston (Claude), Annie Graham and Louise Cox. He also leaves to mourn a special daughter, Bernice Egerton and special grandchildren Brandon (Delicia), Shaun (MiGuana), and Adrienne Egerton, Michael (Paula), Kevin (Andreasa) and EJ Crudup.
A viewing will be held on Friday, December 16, 2022 from 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of St. Matthias Episcopal Church.
A Celebration of Life will be conducted at Nelson Chapel Baptist Church on Saturday, December 17, 2022 beginning at 10:30 a.m. with the Omega Memorial Service and private eulogistic service at 11:00 a.m.
The service will be livestreamed on the R.H. Greene Funeral Home Facebook page. Online condolences may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Services entrusted to R.H. Greene Funeral Home in Warrenton, North Carolina.