Jack R. Anderson, the longtime director of the Pitt Band and an institution within the Pitt community, will lead the band in front of the home crowd one last time during Saturday's senior day game. He announced his retirement, effective at the end of the academic year, back in September.
Anderson has come to symbolize the spirit and pageantry that the Pitt Band brings to every football and basketball game. His affiliation with the group is astounding, dating back to his infancy.
His father and namesake, Jack Anderson, worked as Pitt’s assistant band director from 1948 to 1970. Because of his father’s involvement, Anderson developed a huge respect and affection for the Pitt band and its role in the University. As a fan of the band’s music and traditions, a young Anderson would frequently march along the field to the band’s music and choreography.
"So, basically, I grew up on the sidelines of Pitt football," he said.
During his time as a music teacher, Anderson began working part-time as an assistant band director at Pitt in 1986, and in 1995, he left his position at Keystone and began to work full-time as Pitt’s band director, the same position he holds today.
Imagine all of the Pitt history he has been a part of - 50 years of band camp; 400 football games; all of the traditions, victories, and changes he has witnessed. It gives me chills just thinking about it. Truly amazing.
Any college football fan would agree that marching bands are one of the things that make the game special. And to Pitt, Jack Anderson has undoubtedly been special. Looking back on his phenomenal career, Anderson got his wish.
“Not too many people get to realize their dream job. And since I was a little boy, this was what I wanted to do, and I got the opportunity to do it,” he said. “So, why wouldn’t I smile?”
Once the turkey coma subsides and the Black Friday shopping is done, be at Heinz Field on Saturday to give a true Pitt legend the sendoff he deserves.