Dr. John Joseph "Jo" Baxter Anderson

June 12, 1934 ~ August 21, 2019 (age 85)


Chapel Hill, NC


Dr. John Joseph (“Jo”) Baxter Anderson, 85, of Chapel Hill, NC passed away on Wednesday August 21, 2019 at UNC Hospitals.  He was born in Cleveland, OH to the late Francis “Frank” Anderson and Phyllis Wallbridge Anderson.


Jo was preceded in death by his older brother, William “Bill” Anderson. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Elizabeth “Betsey” Anderson; son Edward “Ted” Anderson and wife Robin Bingham of Gunnison, CO; son John Anderson and wife Leigh of Chapel Hill, NC; son Timothy “Tim” Anderson and wife Mary of Arlington, VA; grandson John “Scott” Anderson and wife Caroline of Durham, NC; grandson William “Will” Anderson-Beck and wife Lindsay, of Los Angeles, CA; and granddaughter Anika Anderson of Gunnison, CO.


Jo was a graduate of University School in Shaker Heights, OH and Williams College in Willimastown, MA, where he earned a B.A. in History.  He held a Masters degree in Secondary Education from Harvard University, a Masters degree in Biology from Boston University and a PhD in Physical Biology from Cornell University.


Upon graduation from Cornell, he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana Champaign, IL.  In 1971, Jo and his family moved to Chapel Hill, NC where he was a visiting Assistant Professor with the UNC Department of Surgery.  In 1972 he became an Assistant Professor of Nutrition in the UNC School of Public Health.  He was promoted to Professor in 1977 and held that position until his retirement in 2007.  He became Professor Emeritus upon his retirement and continued to work in his office almost daily. Jo never stopped writing and publishing as he was working to complete a project for publication at the time of his death.


Jo was renowned for a lifetime of mentoring of faculty and students alike, giving freely of his time to encourage and provide expertise.  It is notable that Jo chaired the Minority Curriculum Affairs Committee at UNC, created in 1974.  This committee provided early support for what is now the Minority Health Conference, the longest running, largest student run conference in the country


According to his colleagues, Jo was well known for his research related to calcium and bone metabolism, which contributed greatly to our understanding of the non-pharmacologic management of osteoporosis.   Jo was a member of many professional organizations and served on the editorial boards of multiple journals.   He was past president of the American College of Nutrition. Jo received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Heart Association and the Distinguished Career Award from the American College of Nutrition.


Jo and Betsey were married in Weld, ME on August 17, 1957.  After stops in Boston, MA, Ithaca, NY and Urbana, IL, Chapel Hill, NC became home for the Anderson family in 1971.  Every summer until 2019, Jo and Betsey returned to the family cottage in Weld, ME where they had many life-long friends.


Besides his numerous professional accomplishments, Jo stayed active for many years refereeing football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse games at every amateur level – from junior high to college.  He regularly coached his boys in all sports and was active in their school PTAs. In the early 1970’s he was named Chapel Hill “Father of the Year”.  As a grandfather, he loved watching all of his grandchildren participate in their many sporting and other activities.


Jo was much loved for his warmth, curiosity and openness toward others.  He made all feel welcomed and valued.  He often became an instant friend a few minutes after meeting someone for the first time.


A memorial service will be held at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, NC on Monday November 25, 2019 at 2:00 PM.  A second celebration of life will be held in Weld, ME during the summer of 2020. Donations may be made to the UNC Department of Nutrition in Jo’s name, at


Condolences may be made to

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. John Joseph "Jo" Baxter Anderson, please visit our floral store.


You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Dr. John Joseph "Jo" Baxter Anderson
© 2020 Omega Funeral Service & Crematory, LLC. All Rights Reserved.