Nathan Losel Anderson

1984 - 2010

Nathan Losel Anderson, was a multi-talented musician who excelled as a pianist and organist, composer/arranger, and accompanist.  His knowledge and skill as a computer specialist led to work in several U.S. government agencies, where he quickly gained ever higher rankings and increasing responsibilities before his tragic death at age 25.

Nathan was born in Washington, D.C., the oldest of three children and the only son of Gerald L. and Ruby Selma Ottley Anderson, who are in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Navy Reserve, respectively. A precocious child whose abilities in reading, math, and writing were nurtured by his maternal grandmother, Myra Grosvenor Ottley, an early childhood specialist, he was advanced to first grade after spending two weeks in kindergarten.  A life sketch prepared by his family at the time of his death detailed his earliest experience in music and his entrepreneurship:

Before age 3, Nathan knew how to turn on the stereo, select his favorite album featuring the orchestral works of Adrian T. Westney, Jr., put it on the turntable, and arrange the kitchen pots and metal mixing bowls. When the music began, he simultaneously conducted the orchestra and then switched to play the pots and bowls whenever the real orchestra's kettle drums were featured in the score of “Lo, He Comes.”

He was a gracious, industrious child, who developed an entrepreneurial spirit very early in life. At age seven after requesting an allowance and being turned down by his father, Nathan came back an hour later with a list of proposed chores he could do and the prices he felt were fair.  After extensive negotiations with his father, he signed a contract to vacuum the entire house, top-to-bottom each Friday afternoon. By age 9, he proposed a contract renegotiation to include cutting the lawn. At age 10 he moved up to cutting the neighbors' lawns, while employing his two sisters, Nicole (Nikki) and Nichelle, to do light raking and run the grass blower. Later, during his teenage years he spent summers working for a neighborhood contractor, helping paint houses and build fencing.

When he entered first grade, Nathan began formal music study with his aunt, Nevilla E. Ottley, at the Ottley Music School. At age ten, he successfully passed the National Guild of Piano Teachers auditions at the high school level and was accompanying the G.E. Peters School Choir in high profile appearances in the Washington, D.C., area and performing regularly in OMS recitals.  In 1995, at age eleven, he presented a 75-minute debut recital at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University.

While attending Takoma Adventist Academy, Nathan led the student band that accompanied the Gospel Choir, Shabach, conducted by his nephew, Anwar Ottley.  Additionally, guided by his aunt Nevilla and his father, he broadened his role as a church musician, playing not only in his home church, the Emmanuel-Brinklow Seventh-day Adventist Church, but also serving as a well-paid pianist and organist in other churches in the area. The family’s life sketch described how the habits of enterprise and total involvement in living life that he had manifested during his earliest years now blossomed fully: 

During Nathan's four years at Takoma Academy, he excelled academically, earning a spot in the National Honor Society, and sought and found increasingly lucrative summer employment, including employment the summer after his senior year at the University of the District of Columbia, teaching rudimentary computer skills to younger high school students enrolled in a summer enrichment program. As an athlete, he excelled in basketball, soccer, and track. In later years he successfully completed the Annual Marine Corps Marathon in 2008 and was already preparing to run in the 2010 marathon.

He enrolled at Oakwood College, now University, where he pursued a degree in computer science. During his four years there he became a key member of the band for the Dynamic Praise Choir and was a preferred accompanist and composer/arranger of music for singers.

During the summers Anderson began working for different agencies in the U.S. government and following graduation from OC was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and assigned to Oklahoma City as a computer specialist for the Indian Health Service, an area he had worked in during recent summers. While there he was deployed to Baton Rouge to support rescue and recovery efforts following the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans. In 2006 he was again sent to New Orleans when it appeared it would be struck by another hurricane.

In that same year Anderson went to Washington to serve as Aide-de-Camp to Assistant Secretary for Health, John Agwunobi. He was then assigned to the Office of the Secretary, Office of Security and Strategic Information and in June 2009 was promoted to the rank of full Lieutenant. A year earlier, he had decided to become a physician and started taking pre-med classes while working full time. He had completed half of the classes needed to enter medical school when he died.

He had become a licensed pilot at age nineteen and, in addition to flying, also pursued an interest in motorcycling. In spite of his work and classwork and pursuing his interests in flying and riding his motorcycle, he continued to be active in music. In addition to his continued service in his home church, he was pianist for the famous Howard University Gospel Choir, which performed on campus and toured.

Four hours after a visit with the HUGC director, Clifton Ross, Jr., Anderson was killed in an accident while riding his motorcycle. At the time of his funeral service, a motorcade of over two dozen motorcycles led the procession from Sligo Church to the George Washington Cemetery, where he was buried next to his grandfather, Neville Ottley.

Even in death, he touched lives in a positive way, having been a self-designated tissue donor. Additionally, he continues to lift the spirits of many through his recording, “Love Lifted Me,” which he had started and was completed by his family following his death.


Source: Detailed biography prepared by the Anderson and Ottley families.