Development & Alumni Relations Office 

James Dusty Anderson, BSc (died 25 March 2019, aged 83)

Obituary provided by Lady Victoria Boat Club


After a long illness, Dusty Anderson died on Monday 25 March 2019 at the age of 83. With his passing, Irish rowing, and in particular Belfast rowing, lost one of its greatest characters.


Born James Anderson on 3 November 1935, he was a product of Coleraine Academical Institution, learning to row at the school. In 1953 he came up to Queen’s to read Economics and joined the boat club. In 1955 he stroked the Junior VIII (now Intermediate), and in 1956 (also the year that he graduated) he stroked the Senior VIII which won the Senior Championship of Ireland. This was a strong, powerful crew, possible the best Queen’s crew of all time.


In 1956 he was elected captain of the Club, and stroked the Senior VII again. This crew was very fast but lacked power in the final stages of a race. Nevertheless, 1956-7 was the most successful year in the history of Queen’s University Boat Club. Dusty’s opinion of rowing at Queen’s at this time is to be found in the chapter he wrote for the Club’s history.

Married in 1962, Dusty had 2 sons. He held a senior role in Youth Employment Service, later taken over by the Civil Service.
After retirement he worked as a consultant for Office of Electricity Regulation.


He continued to row and coach throughout his life. He was instrumental in starting Veteran rowing at Belfast Rowing Club and ran the veterans’ outings for many years thereafter. He organised their entries at events all over Ireland and Great Britain. He not only organised outings three times a week, but organised long-distance rows for charity – down the Shannon, the Erne, Bann, and the Foyle as well as through the Shannon-Erne canal just before its official opening. He also organised Belfast Rowing Club’s trip to Boston for the Head of the Charles in 1994.

Whatever his skill with an oar, his wonderful rhythm as a stroke, or his organising ability, he was nevertheless a very private person. He had a knowledgeable and great love of opera and Italy. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Boat Club songs and a good tenor voice to sing them. This was coupled with a great sense of humour. Asked to speak at a Queen’s Boat Club dinner one year, he sang his speech, which was not only very funny but quite an achievement!


Dusty had a strong opinion, often disguised, but he was unafraid to voice it if he thought it necessary – as when he publicly corrected a senior civil servant who was making a factually incorrect speech at a rowing dinner.

Not only was Dusty responsible for so much in Belfast rowing, he had a long stint as President of Lagan Scullers club, a club dear to his heart and probably his favourite. He was well aware of the benefits of sculling in the development of oarsmen and women. He had been Vice President of Belfast Rowing Club and was a former captain of Lady Victoria Boat Club.

It would be hard to find a more loyal, humorous, logical person that Dusty Anderson. He was a leader and will be sorely missed. But whatever he was, he was supported by his loving wife Roz, she was the rock that gave him the strength to do all the things he did. They loved each other dearly, and our sympathies lie with her on Dusty’s passing.


Dusty is survived by his son Michael and his second wife Roz Goldie.


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