Not much surprises Melville “Roy” Anderson, but a gathering of family, friends, and neighbors, as well as representatives from the Massachusetts State Police and the military, caught him off guard Saturday. They cheered his 100th birthday at a surprise party at the Red Rose.
“I’m overwhelmed with the turnout,” he said. “My entire street, all my neighbors are here. I can’t believe all these people came here.” Originally from Chicopee, he has lived in East Longmeadow since the 1960s.
His four children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren were on hand to celebrate.
A World War II veteran, Anderson served as a gunner’s mate third-class, onboard the USS Meredosia protecting convoys on the North Atlantic route and later in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.
At his party Saturday, Lt. Cmdr. Josh Thompson, commanding officer of the Navy Reserve Center in Plainfield, Connecticut, presented Anderson with a letter of appreciation and commendation from Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations.
“That really meant something to me that an admiral sent a note like that,” Anderson said.
In 1947, he was appointed to the State Police initially as an emergency hire to help fill wartime vacancies but he became a full-time trooper within several months.
Over the course of his career, Anderson served as an aide to Gov. Christian Herter, commanded Troop B in Northampton, and Troop A in Framingham. In 1970, he was promoted to major and retired from the force a year later. He subsequently went to work as an investigator for the New England Telephone Co.
Anderson said the force has changed over the years and he is proud of serving as a trooper.
“There have been many changes that I have to thank these modern troopers for, making the job what it is today. I’m proud of the outfit. They have maintained their standards and they have done a great job,” he said.
Members of the State Police Commissioned Officers Association presented Anderson with a plaque commemorating his service on the force. Major Brendhan Shugrue noted that the plaque is common now for retirees, but the association did not exist when Anderson retired. The association were able to catch up to him and make sure he was remembered properly.
Anderson always enjoyed his golf, his friend Edward Sheehan said. The two worked together at the telephone company and served on the company credit union Board of Directors.
“He could always hit the ball well,” Sheehan said. “Always down the middle.”