College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific alumnus Don Arlan Anderson, DO ’87, touched the lives of countless patients. Following his unexpected death last year at the age of 53, he also left a lasting legacy at his alma mater, donating $4.2 million to Western University of Health Sciences.
Dr. Anderson ran a successful dermatology practice in Kingman, Arizona, and was well respected by colleagues and cherished by patients.
“He always gave more of his time. He was just that kind of person. Others came first,” said his daughter, Amerest Anderson, DC. “Because of that generosity and his ability to put people before himself, he was able to affect a lot of people.”
Dr. Anderson graduated from COMP in 1987. Classmate Warren Peterson, DO ’87, interned with Anderson at Mesa General Hospital, and they both completed dermatology preceptorships in Southern California.
“There was never any question if someone was there to back you up, it would be Don,” Dr. Peterson said. “Don was a man of strong faith and a very hard worker. If I bring up Don Anderson’s name, people are very reverent, with high respect and love for him.”
Dr. Anderson was highly skilled at Mohs surgery, a microscopically controlled surgery used to treat common types of skin cancer.
“He had gifted hands. He was a great diagnostician with a near photographic memory,” Dr. Peterson said. “He was loved by patients and professionals alike.”
Dr. Anderson appreciated his training at WesternU, and they talked about donating to COMP, said Dr. Peterson, who established a COMP scholarship with his wife.
“It’s a compliment to the University and the positive experience that the alumnus had while at the University to remember it in an estate gift,” said WesternU Senior Vice President Thomas G. Fox, PhD.
The WesternU Board of Trustees will decide how to best utilize the donation, with input from executive management and the Anderson family.
Dr. Anderson started his Kingman dermatology practice in a tiny rented office, and built it into a thriving business, with a team of doctors and three locations serving Kingman, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City.
“People would drive to Kingman from other cities to see him, just because he had such a good reputation,” Dr. Amerest Anderson said. “Once you saw him, you wouldn’t want to see anyone else.”
He was a big man who commanded attention when he walked into the room, but he had a gentle heart, she said. His three children worked in his office at a young age, and all of them are following in his footsteps as healers. Amerest is a chiropractic physician. His younger daughter, Cydney Holt, is a dental hygienist, and his son, Mason, wants to pursue a medical degree after completing a two-year mission in Norway for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“He instilled a very good work ethic in all of us,” Dr. Anderson said. “He provided an opportunity for us to work in his practice, and then he provided the opportunity for us to continue our education. He left a legacy of helping people. More important than temporary material success, he instilled in all three of us a significant responsibility to help others, to provide for those who may not be as fortunate as ourselves. He was always so giving.”