Cover photo for WYATT WHEATON ANDERSON's Obituary
1939 WYATT 2023


March 27, 1939 — November 11, 2023

Athens, GA

Wyatt Anderson passed away on Saturday, November 11th at Presbyterian Village Athens. Wyatt was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, and he was a dedicated scientist and administrator. He will be missed.

As we mourn the loss of Wyatt Anderson, we also celebrate his enduring legacy. Wyatt had a distinguished career and had lasting impact on the University of Georgia and in the field of evolutionary biology/genetics. Renowned for his groundbreaking research on the evolutionary genetics of Drosophila, Wyatt challenged existing paradigms and expanded our understanding of natural selection. He was a mentor to many, an inspiration to even more, and a cherished member of the academic and local communities. Wyatt’s intellectual curiosity, his dedication to his family, and his commitment to students and colleagues will be deeply missed.

Wyatt and his identical twin brother John were born on March 27, 1939, in New Orleans, LA to William Wyatt and Lottie Johnson Anderson. His grandparents were Wyatt Wheaton Anderson and Cordelia Elizabeth Fear Anderson of Elton, LA and John Palmer Johnson and Anna Hering Johnson of Darien, GA. Wyatt’s father was a fisheries biologist, so Wyatt and his family lived in Sarasota, FL and Galveston, TX before moving to Brunswick, GA where Wyatt spent his teenage years and attended Glynn Academy. He then went to the University of Georgia where he earned his B.S. Cum Laude and M.S. in Zoology.

As Wyatt was completing his M.S. he met Margaret Ann Shugart, a student at Agnes Scott College, on a blind date. After he completed his M.S. and Margaret graduated, they were married in July 1962 and moved to New York City where Wyatt was invited to attend graduate school at the Rockefeller Institute – now Rockefeller University. There he was a student of Theodosius Dobzhansky, a major figure in evolutionary genetics.

Wyatt accepted a position as a faculty member at Yale University in 1966, a year before completing his Ph.D. After he was awarded his degree, he took leave from Yale and spent two years as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corp after which he returned to his faculty position at Yale. In 1972, he was one of a group of scientists from Yale who moved to Athens to establish a Genetics Program at the University of Georgia (UGA) with scientists in different departments. In 1980 the Genetics Department was formed, and Wyatt was the first department head.

Wyatt had a distinguished career at UGA where he was named Alumni Foundation Distinguished Professor of Genetics. He served as Dean of the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences for 12 years, where his tenure was marked by visionary leadership and academic excellence across all the disciplines in the College. He served on many boards and committees at UGA. Even though he had administrative duties, he continued his research and published more than 130 papers. Wyatt and his wife, Margaret, established the Wyatt and Margaret Anderson Professorship in the Arts.

Wyatt was internationally known and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also belonged to and had leadership roles in the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Genetic Association, and the American Society of Naturalists. He served on journal editorial boards and was Associate Editor of the Annual Review of Genetics.

Wyatt is survived by Margaret, his wife of 61 years, his children and their spouses: Jim Anderson (Fiona Harvey), Elizabeth Ledet (Winston), and Karen Anderson (Lyndon Boozer) and his grandchildren: Austin and Maddie (Elizabeth’s children) and Kyle and Tyler (Karen’s children). Wyatt is also survived by his sister, Gail Nelson, and his brother, John.

The family would like to thank the staff of Presbyterian Village and the Skilled Nursing Unit for the care and kindness they showed to Wyatt and to them.  A celebration of Wyatt’s life will be held at the Village at Presbyterian Village, Athens Georgia, from 2 pm to 4 pm ET on Saturday, December 9, 2023.

In remembrance of Wyatt’s passion for education, research, and the community, the family suggests contributions in lieu of flowers to either the Genetics Alumni Graduate Support Fund or the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, details are below:

• Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Georgia’s Genetics Alumni Graduate Support Fund in memory of Dr. Wyatt Anderson. A check may be made to the "UGA Foundation" with Genetics Alumni Graduate Support Fund in the memo line and mailed to the UGA Foundation, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. You may also donate online at Please put Wyatt’s name in the special instructions or tribute sections.
• Memorial contributions may also be made to the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy in memory of Dr. Wyatt Anderson.  The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy champions the needs of sexually and severely physically abused children through prevention, intervention, therapy, and collaboration.  Wyatt and Margaret’s daughter, Elizabeth, is actively involved as a board member; contributions can be made at this link:
Lord & Stephens Funeral Homes, West, Watkinsville, GA is assisting the family with arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of WYATT WHEATON ANDERSON, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Presbyterian Village Athens

1400 Live Oak Lane, Athens, GA 30606

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