USC Upstate Remembers ‘Transformative’ Spartan Dodie Anderson

August 1, 2020 at 12:56 pm
Dodie Anderson
Dodie Anderson 2010

Though she stood just above five feet tall, Dolores “Dodie” F. Anderson will be remembered as a giant among those who have helped shape the University of South Carolina Upstate since its founding in 1967.

A devoted supporter of USC Upstate Athletics, Anderson died peacefully at her home on Wednesday, July 29. She was 92.

In 2010, Anderson gave USC Upstate $4 million to renovate the G.B. Hodge Center, where the university’s basketball and volleyball teams practice and compete. It stands as the largest single gift to the Athletics Department in the university’s history.

“Dodie Anderson was a champion of USC Upstate, our athletic department and our basketball programs,” said Daniel Feig, USC Upstate’s director of athletics and vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics.

“She was a true servant leader and cared so deeply for her alma mater,” Feig added. “Her generosity and spirit of giving have had a profound impact on the experience of hundreds of Spartan student-athletes that have walked the halls of the G.B. Hodge Center over the years. Her impact on USC Upstate will be felt for many years to come and we will miss her dearly. On behalf of our department and student-athletes, I want to extend our sincerest condolences to Dodie’s daughters and the entire Anderson family during this difficult time.”  

In the 1940s, Anderson and her husband, the late Robert “Bob” W. Anderson, founded Anderson Hardwood Floors in Clinton. Together they grew the venture into one of the largest privately owned hardwood floor manufacturers in the United States.

To enrich her life, Anderson returned to college at the age of 48, enrolling at Greenville Technical College. She later transferred to USC Upstate, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 1981.

Anderson remained an avid fan of USC Upstate’s basketball program and attended games into her 90s. She generously gave of her time and fortune to support a variety of academic and athletic endeavors at her alma mater and other institutions in the state.

“She had a wonderful spirit about her that was very can-do,” said former USC Upstate head men’s basketball coach Eddie Payne (2002-2017). “Let’s improve this. Let’s make it better. That was always her focus. She financially supported the 25th reunion of our (1982 NAIA) national champion men’s basketball team. She gave money to bring (Rhodes scholar and 1981 USC Upstate alum) Dr. Daniel Dreisbach to USC Upstate. She gave to the Chancellor’s Fund. She gave money to plant trees. Dodie loved her school and supported it in every way that she could. She told me on more than one occasion that giving money added years to her life. She loved helping people.”

The University of South Carolina opened its $13.5 million, 40,000-square-foot Dodie Anderson Academic Center in 2010. Anderson gave $5 million toward the cost of the structure. Nicknamed “The Dodie,” the center serves as a hub for resources focused on helping UofSC student-athletes succeed in the classroom.   

In 2018, Anderson gave $2 million to Greenville Technical College to help establish the Dreisbach/Anderson Student Success Center intended to welcome, support and provide the tools to help create transformative opportunities through education. That gift is one of the largest in Greenville Tech’s history.

“It’s important people understand that she wasn’t from a privileged background,” Payne said. “She and Bob worked for what they had and were more than willing to give. That kind of charity isn’t very prevalent, especially today.”

Anderson was sharp-witted and loved to have fun, Payne said. She and her husband became USC Upstate fans through personal relationships with other supporters of the university.

“My wife and I became really good friends with Dodie,” Payne said. “There came a point in time where she asked, ‘what can I do for you?’ I never asked her. Her efforts benefitted the entire athletic department. Her philanthropy extended into other areas of the institution. The greatest gift she had was her enthusiasm for helping other people. And she really liked seeing that her giving made a difference.”

The Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education (SCCHE) in 2014 presented Anderson with its highest honor, the G.B. Hodge, M.D. Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of her influence on the “shape, character and destiny” of USC Upstate.

Anderson received the SCCHE’s Founders’ Day Award in 1986 and was inducted into USC Upstate’s Honor Fraternity in 2005. She was a former member of the university’s Foundation Board of Directors.

In 2006, on the 25th anniversary of her graduation from USC Upstate, Anderson was given the Distinguished Alumni of the Year award.

Anderson was awarded The Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, by Gov. Henry McMaster in May 2019.

“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a fellow Spartan whose passion and generosity has created many opportunities for us to support our student-athletes in their pursuit of higher education,” said USC Upstate Interim Chancellor Derham Cole. “Dodie’s legacy of giving is certainly one to be emulated and will continue to thrive on our campus and others in South Carolina. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

Born in Forest Park, Ill., on May 12, 1928, Anderson was the daughter of the late Edward and Randine Femer, who were Norwegian immigrants. She is survived by four daughters, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

“From the first time I met Dodie, her passion for USC Upstate was evident,” said USC Upstate head men’s basketball coach Dave Dickerson. “She loved the Spartans and helped our program grow by leaps and bounds. She will be remembered fondly by our student-athletes and coaches, but her legacy will live on here at USC Upstate forever.”