There are however exceptions to such broad generalities, and until this past Tuesday, Mission Hills multi-millionaire B.B. Andersen would appear to be the poster child for such exceptions. Short of having the complete inside track on Andersen’s life story, it’s hard to cite an example of the international businessman and Survivor Season One reality show star ever having slipped.
“He was an amazing, amazing guy,” says attorney Dwight Sutherland. “And he was a major, major donor to the Republican Party and it paid off for him. He got all sorts of government contracts. I mean, he got the bottled water concession for the first Gulf War in 1991 for Desert Storm. He had a condo in Northern Iraq.”
And yet somehow, despite Andersen’s many plaudits, he managed to keep a low profile locally.
“He wasn’t a household word here because be was playing at the international level,” Sutherland says. “I mean, you wouldn’t see him at the Granfalloon or JJ’s because (in his later years) he had become a respectable family man. But he was up to his ears in this West Edge thing on the Plaza. He jumped in the middle of it and brought it out of bankruptcy. It was very convoluted.”
Just last year Andersen was “awarded” $6 million to settle a lawsuit against iconic KC car dealer Cecil Van Tuyl over the project.
Andersen’s obit in today’s Kansas City Star lists his birthplace as Geddes, South Dakota, but “He was a Topeka kid and he was a Navy Seal,” Sutherland says. “And he took his road show to Kansas City and then all over the world.”
Andersen’s ticket to ride?
“If you met B.B. Andersen once you would never forget him,” Sutherland says. “I mean, the guy had charisma. He was big and he was handsome and he was an amazing guy. He was one of a kind.”
As recently as the past year Andersen was spotted hanging at a high dollar fundraiser for Mitt Romney and in late spring or early summer making the local social circuit.
“He basically had a massive stroke and brain cancer (sometime this summer) and was in an out of hospice for months now,” Sutherland says.
“There’s a spy novel by Tommy Caplan called The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen,” Sutherland says. “And it’s set in Kansas City in Mission Hills and is about an international construction contractor and Vietnam veteran who has all sorts of political contacts from the White House on down. Who was quite a ladies man with much younger women. The character’s name is Willie Claussen, which is a reasonable facsimile of B.B. Anderson. I mean, how many people here fit that profile? Nobody except B.B.
“And a friend of mine asked B.B. about it and he was very coy about it. I wrote the author twice and never got a response, but I talked to him the day before yesterday and asked him point blank about B.B. and he acted surprised and didn’t appear to know who B.B. Andersen was. I think it may have just been a tremendous coincidence now but I think B.B. liked the idea of being the hero in a spy novel, so he didn’t deny it – which says something about B.B.”