Fayette County

Frank Anderson, who photographed iconic Kentucky moments for 42 years, dies at 73

Frank Anderson with the 2003 Eclipse Award for photography.
Frank Anderson with the 2003 Eclipse Award for photography.

Longtime Herald-Leader photographer Frank Anderson, 73, died Thursday at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

Anderson was a member of the Lafayette High School camera club when he joined the newspaper staff in 1960, working in the darkroom.

He spent 42 years at the Herald-Leader, photographing the likes of John and Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. He regularly captured the horses crossing the finish line at the Kentucky Derby and documented iconic moments in the history of University of Kentucky basketball, including Adolph Rupp’s last game at Memorial Coliseum.

In 2003, Anderson won an Eclipse Award from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association for his photo of a runaway horse bearing down on jockey Patti Cooksey, who lay injured on the track at Keeneland as track personnel tried to help her.

“When you think of all the events ... and all the changes in Lexington, he was there for a lot of them,” said former Herald-Leader racing reporter Maryjean Wall, who worked with Anderson for decades. “He made a photographic record of all of it.”

Anderson “made an impression on people,” said Herald-Leader Photo Editor Ron Garrison.

“He was a big guy and could be sort of gruff,” Garrison said, making him somewhat intimidating to younger photographers. When on assignment with other photographers, he wasn’t shy about making sure he was in position to get a good shot of the action.

“He was fairly aggressive in the field,” Garrison said.

But once people got to know him, they found him to be a kindhearted man.

You can see much of Anderson’s work on our historical photo blog, KyPhotoArchive.com.

Anderson was adept at networking. He used to hang out with firefighters at local fire houses, and Wall said most of the police force knew him by name.

“He was well-connected in the community. Everybody knew Frank,” said Charles Bertram, the Herald-Leader’s current chief photographer.

Anderson spent almost every morning having coffee with a group of lawyers, judges and businessmen downtown.

Lexington attorney Terry McBrayer said “he had to take all the wrath” directed at the Herald-Leader by the group.

When Anderson retired in 2006, he said he was looking forward to fishing and spending time with his grandchildren.

McBrayer said the two used to fish together, and once, at Deer Lake, Anderson fell in and had to be towed back to shore.

After that, McBrayer said, he got plenty of ribbing about the “crater that he created.”

“We called it the Anderson Hole,” McBrayer said. “...He didn’t mind ’cause he was going to dish it right back.

“He loved the outdoors. Just an all-around good person.”

He also took on part-time gigs at Keeneland and a local funeral home. Most recently, he worked for Lexus of Lexington.

Anderson was a native of West Virginia who spent most of his life in Kentucky.

After taking a job at the Herald-Leader while still a high school student, he left to attend Morehead State University before returning to the newspaper.

Anderson was committed to being fair, and to giving readers a truthful look at the world around them. He said in a retrospective on his career that he’d like to be remembered as “being honest with the public.”

Anderson, of Versailles, had been married to his wife, Ruth Anderson, since 1974. He was a member of Tates Creek Christian Church.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Jennifer and Brian, and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Harrodsburg Road. Visitation begins at 12:30 p.m.