Cover photo for Dr. William M. Anderson III's Obituary
1935 Dr. 2021

Dr. William M. Anderson III

August 9, 1935 — November 13, 2021

Camp Hill

Dr. William M. Anderson III

Anderson, 86, gave crucial care to patients, community, world -

Dr. William M. Anderson III — whose lifelong sense of curiosity and quest to understand this world and its people allowed him to find a rare balance between work and home, adventure and service, and science and humanities — died early morning Nov. 13 at his home in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, with family by his side. He was 86.

William, or Bill as he was called throughout his life, was born Aug. 9, 1935, in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, to William M. Anderson II and Helen Elise (Wood) Anderson. He grew up high above the left bank of the Schuylkill River across from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, just 15 miles or so northwest of Philadelphia.

Dr. Anderson’s grandfather William M. Anderson Sr. (b. 1869; the “M” stood for Milliken, but he forsook the name for sounding too Irish) was a successful Philadelphia businessman. His industrial plumbing business flourished as the city grew and modernized. His youngest child was William M. Anderson II (b. 1908), who in 1933 married Elise Wood in Pasadena, California, though they soon returned to Montgomery County where Bill Jr. built a home, dubbed “Turtleback Hill,” near Woodmont Estate, Helen Wood’s great uncle, Alan Wood Jr.’s manor.

Bill Jr. owned a sporting goods store in downtown Philadelphia and also worked as a general contractor, building several Main Line homes. He and Elise had two other sons: Richard Gilpin Wood (1940-2010) and Charles “Mike” Clucas (b. 1945). The couple separated in 1947 and officially divorced in 1953.

William M. III recalled many memories from his early years at Turtleback Hill: finding snakes, skiing on a hill in a nearby sheep meadow, and, during World War II, accompanying his father on inspections of the neighborhood to make sure black-out orders were being followed.

Bill’s education started early, in 1939, in a sort of precursor to Headstart that was operated by his aunt, Mary Louise “Polly” Wood, and a cousin, Rachael Read. The following year he began public school in Gladwyne. In 1948, he was sent to St. Paul’s, a boarding school outside of Baltimore, where attended for two years. In 1950, he was enrolled at Lower Merion High School, from which he graduating in 1953, then went on to the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in zoology with hopes of getting into medical school, and, for a short time, psychology.

In the fall of 1957, Bill’s father and stepmother, Nancy Kennedy, chaperoned a house party at Bill’s fraternity, Acacia. Family lore tells that Bill left the party to take his date back to her home and returned to find an unfamiliar girl sitting on his dad’s lap. The young lady, he learned, was Dorothy “Dotty” Jean Kentner. He asked for her number and within three months, on New Year’s Day 1958, they were “pinned.” They married nine months later in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, on Sept. 20, 1958, five days before Dotty’s 21st birthday.

After a weeklong honeymoon to New York City and down the New Jersey Coast, Dorothy started her senior year at the University of Pennsylvania. Bill, having been in ROTC at Penn, chose to fulfill his military obligation. In the summer of ’58 he had enlisted in the U.S. Army, and shortly after getting married he shipped out to Fort Eustis, Virginia, for basic training and then was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted in Heidelberg, Germany. Bill was a platoon leader and later an executive officer of the 126th Transportation Company, medium truck.

It wasn’t until June 1959 that the young couple was reunited in Germany. Their three years there were full of travel and culture, good food, wine and beer, and many madcap adventures that cemented friendships that would last a lifetime.

Bill and Dotty remained in Germany longer than originally intended, due to an extension of Bill’s service caused by the closing of the Berlin Wall. Bill, who led numerous convoys throughout Germany transporting often classified material to the eastern border, had his suspicions about his cargo, but it wasn’t until much later that they were more or less confirmed: He and his team of teens and 20-somethings were hauling nuclear weapons.

While in Germany, the first of their three children, Wendelyn “Wendy” Wood Anderson, was born, on April 29, 1960, in Heidelberg. In 1961, the family of three returned to Fort Eustis where Bill became a training officer for reserve units called up by President Kennedy in response to the building of the Berlin Wall. Among his accomplishments there was the drafting of a manual on packing military materiel for transportation by train, convoy or plane — a manual that was used for decades and no doubt an experience that helped Bill develop his superlative skills for packing for his own personal expeditions with family and friends.

During this second stint in Virginia, their second child, William “Billy” Kentner Anderson, was born, on Feb. 4, 1962.

Bill was discharged honorably in 1962 with the rank of 1st lieutenant, whereupon the four decamped for State College, Pennsylvania, where Bill took a year of remedial courses — microbiology, calculus, quantitative chemistry and some others — in order to get into medical school. He started his medical training in the fall of ’63 at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia, graduating in 1967. He, Dotty, Wendy and Billy occupied a small apartment in the Germantown neighborhood of the city, staying there for two years before finding a slightly roomier house nearby, where on Feb. 22, 1966, they welcomed their third and final child, Richard “Dicky” Charles Anderson.

In 1968, the family moved to Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, where Bill did a three-year residency at Harrisburg Hospital; he had spent three weeks there during an OB/GYN rotation in med school and was impressed by a number of faculty members. During a weeklong course in Pittsburgh he met Peter Safer who introduced him to what would eventually become known as critical care medicine. In order to practice the discipline, he needed to take a fellowship in pulmonary medicine, so in 1971 he bundled up the family and trekked to Brookline, Massachusetts, where he studied under Dr. Gordon Snyder as the Jamaica Plains Veterans Administration Hospital attached to Boston University. They returned to Camp Hill in 1973, where Bill was named director of respiratory services.

Harrisburg Hospital had a “rudimentary” ICU, as Bill put it, started by Dr. Ken Quickle, but the infrastructure was relatively primitive. William was instrumental in modernizing the department and developing a critical care medicine unit there as well as a modern respiratory care service. He also brought to the hospital transnasal fiber-optic bronchoscopy, a technology that was just developing.

While serving at Harrisburg Hospital occupied much of his time, Bill also regularly made rounds at Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill and Polyclinic Medical Center in Harrisburg. Because Harrisburg Hospital was a teaching hospital, he also helped teach the next generation of doctors coming up at Hershey Medical Center.

Shortly after returning to Pennsylvania, Bill met the only other pulmonologist in town, Dr. Robert Gilroy. With Dr. Frank Myers, they founded Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Associates, which Bill was immensely proud of and which still serves the Harrisburg area today.

In 1976, the Anderson clan moved from Camp Hill to the side of a wooded ridge near Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, where they lived in a modern home, set into the hillside, that was largely designed by Dotty. Here, they saw their children graduate from high school and go off to college and beyond. For all its charms and wonderful memories, the Lewisberry house had a long, steep driveway, and Bill and Dotty wisely foresaw that it would not be an appropriate place to grow old. So they moved back to Camp Hill, where Dotty, having gone back to school and earned her architecture degree from Drexel University in 1998, at the age of 59, lovingly designed an arts-and-crafts style home, dubbed Le Soliel for the light that streamed through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the southern wall. Remarkably, the house managed to both fit into the circa-1940s neighborhood while also standing out as distinctive and singular.

While Bill was a devoted and extremely hard-working physician, he also thirsted for knowledge and adventure. He and Dotty traveled extensively throughout their marriage, traipsing widely across the United States as well as to Europe, Africa, India, Russia, Japan and elsewhere. Some of these voyages were not what one would call “vacations” — ski touring into the north rim of the Grand Canyon, for example, or whitewater canoeing on Baffin Island. Bill began thinking about retirement just as Dotty began to work more as an architect, so on some of Bill’s wilder trips — to Madagascar, Borneo and Antarctica, for instance — his old friend Tom Andrews stood in for Dorothy. Closer to home, he enjoyed canoeing with George and Marilyn Faries, planning the New Year’s Day hike with an often large and boisterous entourage of friends and family, or simply going for a quiet ramble in the woods.

While living in Boston, the family was invited to visit a house on the shore of Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont, that was owned by Dotty’s Great Aunt Florence and Great Uncle Herman Kentner. Dotty later inherited the house on Old Ford Lane, and it became a beloved summer destination, not only for the Anderson clan but many friends. Willoughby’s chilly waters could not dissuade them from swimming, canoeing and sailing, and the verdant mountains of the Northeast Kingdom offered near endless opportunities for exploration. Hikes up Mount Wheeler and Mount Pisgah were practically mandatory when visiting “Anderson Cobble,” as the home came to be known.

This Vermont connection also included many a family ski trip, most often to Stowe, where the Anderson would share a rental home with two or three other families — the Andrews, the Bushes, the Strunks, Tanya Wagner, Gail and Sparky Varner, and others — as well as Killington and Lake Placid in New York.

Another meaningful New England destination was the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where in 1973 a backpacking trip to the summit of Mount Washington and the Lake of the Clouds hut introduced the family to a shaggy bearded collie who appeared to be without his humans. The family induced the dog to follow them back the base, where they left their names and contact information for anyone who might come looking for him, but no one ever did, and so George came into their lives. George returned to Mount Washington in 1976 on a five-day expedition across the Presidential Range with the whole Anderson Clan — Bill and Dotty’s brood as well as the brothers and their families — a highlight of a two-week New England reunion that lives on in many happy memories and anecdotes still recounted by the extended family.

Bill and Dotty both were very active in their community, involved with many civic and cultural endeavors. They helped create a fine art film series at what was then called the William Penn Museum, were longtime supporters of the Harrisburg Symphony, served on the boards of the Market Square Concerts and Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz, and supported the arts in many other ways. Bill also served on the board of the Hawk Mountain raptor center and Wildwood Park, north of Harrisburg.

Even more active was Bill’s mind: A self-described secular humanist, Epicurean and proud skeptic, he read voraciously about physics and science, history and politics, philosophy and spirituality, and especially natural history. His personal library contains scores of field guides to wildflowers, trees, soils, clouds, wildlife … and birds — especially birds. We was a member of Camp Hill’s Eclectic Club, a group that, as the name implies, was interested in just about everything, and would gather monthly to listen to a member report on some subject. Equally central to his circle of like-minded thinkers was the Cornerstone Coffee Shop on Market Street in Camp Hill.

For decades, Bill would carry in his breast pocket a carefully folded piece of paper on which he would jot notes and even sketch things that caught his interest. This later evolved into his “utility belt,” a number of pouches and pockets in which he kept pens and pencils and small note pads. Visiting museums, he would spend hours on an exhibit that others would stroll through in 30 minutes; on one visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., he spent nearly eight hours in the Wright Brothers rooms. While his family sometimes made fun of his meticulous note keeping, they also admired it.

His sketching habit eventually grew into a full-blown art practice, and in addition to his utility belt he always had art supplies — pads, paintbrushes, watercolor sets, colored pencils and more — close at hand. He began to study painting formally in 1989 with JD Wissler, Steve Wetzel and Elizabeth Staz, and later took classes through the Harrisburg Art Association. He was quite proud to join the venerable Harrisburg-area painting salon The Seven Lively Artists, and exhibited his work around the area with the group. Working in watercolor, oil, pastel and charcoal, some of his favorite subjects were the bridges spanning the Susquehanna River, the pastoral Pennsylvania countryside and Vermont scenery.

As so many have observed, Bill’s open-mindedness and sense of fairness were among his greatest attributes, and he sought to impart these values to his children and others through many a wise and witty utterance, such as “Don’t believe everything you think” and “The only thing I know about God is that he loves diversity.”

But Bill said one of the most satisfying facets of his career was his involvement with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He said this began when he met a young woman, a nurse, who had lived considerably longer than the typical CF patient at the time and who no longer wanted to be cared for by a pediatrician. So she sought out Bill, who cared for her for several years until she passed. At one point the president of the Harrisburg chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, he witnessed amazing developments, including the discovery of the CF gene and lung transplantation. Among his many CF patients, he especially remembered two young women who had lung transplants and were still alive as of the late 2010s, one with a child born less than two years after her surgery.

“I feel truly privileged to have lived during a period of such exciting progress in medicine and to have had an opportunity to practice with such dedicated and talented physicians as I have in Harrisburg,” Bill wrote in a short biographical sketch.

Dotty died Feb. 28, 2015, in her bed at Le Soleil. Bill carried on for another six years, traveling, going to extremes to check new birds off his life list, working on his grass-free yard and garden, sketching, reading and painting, and enjoying friends and music and deep conversations. But the hole left by Dotty’s absence was obvious to all.

Bill left behind his three children, Wendy, who lives in Philadelphia where she teaches in Thomas Jefferson University’s textile program and maintains a textile art and design studio; Bill, a guitarist and composer who lives in Mount Vernon, New York, with his wife, Joan Forsyth, with whom he has a grown son, William Henry Anderson; and Rich, a writer and editor in Jackson, Wyoming, where he and his wife, Yana Salomon, are raising their 16-year-old son Griffen McCoy Salomon Anderson. Also surviving him are his youngest brother Mike, in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Jan Kaser-Anderson, and their daughters Kirsten and Kimber; sister-in-law Barbara Forsythe Anderson, also in Portland, and her and her husband Richard G.W. Anderson’s daughter Amber Ann Anderson.

Predeceased are his darling Dorothy, brother Richard and niece Heidi.

He also leaves behind a long and broad swath of friends and meaningful relationships that he made everywhere he went, and ample evidence of his efforts to make his community and his world better than when he found it.

Friends are welcome to join Bill’s family for a celebration of his joy-filled life on Sunday, May 15, 2022, from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at “Le Soleil,” his home at 236 North 23rd Street in Camp Hill, PA 17011.

In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family suggests that memorial contributions can be made to Market Square Concerts, P.O. Box 1292, Harrisburg, PA 17108,; Central PA Friends of Jazz, 5721 Jonestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112,; or Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, P.O. Box 6686, Harrisburg, PA 17112,

Bill’s family has entrusted his care to Buhrig Funeral Home & Crematory in Mechanicsburg, (717) 766-3421.  Read Bill’s full obituary, view his memorial video and portrait, offer condolences and sympathy, share stories and memories, upload photographs and videos, light a candle and sign his official guest book by visiting

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. William M. Anderson III, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Celebration of Joy-filled Life

Sunday, May 15, 2022

11:00am - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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