Billy Ray “Bill” Anderson, 80, – also affectionately known as “Cousin Carl” —
passed away Dec. 18, 2020, following a visit with his children. He was preceded
in death by his loving wife of 56 years, Elizabeth Ann (Crowell) Anderson.
Bill was born Dec. 14, 1940, near Forman, Arkansas, to Eloise “Snow” and John
D. Anderson. He grew up loving radio and country music. As was the custom in the ’40's,
radio provided both information and entertainment, especially to farm families like the
Andersons in the Red River bottoms of Oklahoma.
Bill’s first paying job in radio began as a senior in high school when he worked part-time
at the Dequeen, Arkansas station. His first full-time position was at KBEL in Idabel,
Oklahoma. His talent earned him the Country Music DJ of the Year Award in 1961 at the
Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
His long career as “Cousin Carl” started in the mid-’60s when he created the hillbilly
character for a start-up radio station in Holdenville, Oklahoma. Bill did a morning show
in the character’s hayseed voice and then switched to his normal professional radio voice
to read the news. No one in the community even realized that Bill Anderson and Cousin Carl
were one and the same.
Bill briefly stepped away from radio to work in television news in Dodge City, Kansas,
but was soon called back to Holdenville for another decade as Cousin Carl. He also learned
to fly and started a side business flying pipeline patrol checking for leaks for Kerr McGee
Oil. That gig soon morphed into crop dusting and he moved to Texas where he owned and operated
an agriculture spray business.
However, his love of radio never waned, and he left Texas in 1977 for a stint at KDXE
in Little Rock, Arkansas, before moving to Southeast Missouri in 1979. There he spent
the rest of his career, first at KSIM, then KMIS, and finally fulfilled a life-long dream
by starting his own station — KWKZ 106.1 in Cape Girardeau. Forever a fan of
traditional country and western swing, Bill chose to focus his character show on
the music and artists that he knew personally from his years in the industry.
Over the next three decades, Cousin Carl became the most recognized and popular
show in the Heartland, and in 2010, Bill received a coveted Addy Award for his talent.
Bill worked closely for years with his daughter, Susan (aka “the Girl), on and off the
air and enjoyed promoting her singing career. He retired in 2019 due to health concerns.
Survivors include: his children, Dianne (Mark) Mathis, Susan (Arnold) Bell, John (Mindy)
Anderson; grandchildren, Sydney and Chase Eubank, Kirsten (Jonathan) Holley, Cody and Taylor
Anderson, Weston and Waverly Mathis; great-grandchildren, Kami Eubank and Teagan Anderson;
his sister, Judith Davis; brother-in-law Ray (Shelly) Crowell; nephew, Michael Anderson
who lived with him in recent years; niece and nephew, Lisa and John; great-niece and
nephews, Natalie (Tony), John Louis and Joseph; extended family and many other friends
who he regarded as family members.
A small private family service is planned at Ford and Sons Funeral Home with
the Rev. Eric McGruder officiating, and music conducted by Mindy Anderson.
Pallbearers include: Jonathan Holley, Aaron Moore, John Davis, Jack Davis, J
acob Valdivia and J.W. Henderson. Honorary pallbearers include: Ted Eftink,
Jeff Sutton, Dennis Ward, Steve Decker, Dale Forbis, Rick Young, Bob Dolley and Butch Koeppel.
The family invites everyone who knew him, whether as Bill or Cuz, to join a
celebration of his life being planned on Pure Country C106.1. Also, please
share your memories on the C106.1 Facebook page or at www.fordandsonsfuneralhome.com.
Ford and Sons Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be given to Safe House for Women, Inc.; Community Partnership
of Southeast Missouri or Humane Society of Southeast Missouri.
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