Populous Remembers Co-Founder and Industry Leader Jerry Anderson

September 27, 2018

With profound sadness, Populous announced the passing this week of one of its founders, Jerry Anderson, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Jerry was a pioneer in the sport architecture industry. Over a four decade career, Jerry led the design and operations of the world’s most prestigious venues and sporting events, including the NFL Super Bowl, Olympic Games, NCAA championship events and the FIFA World Cup. Jerry impacted nearly every professional and collegiate sports league, and, as one of the foremost authorities in the sport and special event industry, he was widely recognized for his trailblazing experience in the planning and design of venues and events.

“Jerry made an indelible mark on Populous’ global presence, but more importantly, his work is etched in the memories of billions around the world,” said Earl Santee, FAIA, Populous Americas Managing Director. “He was a respected colleague, a friend to so many and a leader for us all, and we will greatly miss him.”

Jerry received a bachelor’s degree with honors from Montana State University, and he received his master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. He was recognized by Sports Business International as one of the World’s 20 Most Influential and as an Architecture Industry Leader by the Denver Business Journal.

Jerry started his career as an architect in Seattle and then later in San Francisco. His early projects included designs for the Rose Bowl, Candlestick Park and many ski resorts. He invented the modern-day industry of major event planning, and the NFL was one of his first and longest-statured clients. He has worked on every NFL Super Bowl since Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium and has helped grow the event into one of the most recognized in the world.

“Few people are more synonymous with the Super Bowl and more a part of the NFL events family than Jerry. The list of ways that Jerry made the NFL — and everything he touched — better is extraordinary,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL Senior Vice President of Events & Club Business Development. “Though we will miss him dearly, his legacy will shine on.”

As his renown grew, Jerry built large teams that successfully planned, delivered and operated events such as the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA, the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In total, he was involved extensively in the delivery of 13 Olympic Games.

Jerry was honored and humbled to be recognized for his comprehensive Olympic career by being selected to participate in the 2012 London Olympic Games Torch Relay. Reflecting on being a torch bearer, Jerry said, “I’ve had the honor to connect with the Olympic spirit in many ways over my career – from our venues, to athletes, to staff, to spectators, and to communities. But this was truly one of the most amazing and thrilling experiences of my Olympic journey – to connect so closely to people through the power of the torch and the flame. I could feel their pride, happiness, and hope everywhere I turned. It was exciting and humbling all at the same time.”

Following the success of the 2002 Salt Lake Games where Jerry was the Managing Director of Venue Development, he joined Populous and opened the firm’s Denver office. In the ensuing decades, he led a team of event architects, planners, operators and accreditation experts that grew with clients such as the National Hockey League, NCAA Final Four and College Football Playoff.

While this is an impressive list, Jerry’s true contribution was his approach to projects, clients, staff and consultants; literally every individual with whom he interacted.

“Jerry approached every project with professionalism, grace and humor.  He had an immeasurable impact on me and multiple others in the business,” said Populous Senior Principal Jeff Keas. “That is his true legacy.”

Jerry perfected the art of staying calm under pressure and trained his staff always to avoid the spotlight, as he put it, “stay in the shadows.”

“Jerry loved every aspect of every detail that goes into planning an event in a stadium or venue site. He loved teaching the art and practice of event and watching his team grow into the professionals we have all become,” said Populous Senior Principal Todd Barnes. “We are all blessed to have been able to learn from a true worldwide innovator.”

As a Populous co-founder and leader, Jerry created the firm’s event and accreditation practice and grew the firm’s Denver presence to its current staff of nearly 50. He also served as Chairman of the firm’s Board of Directors and under his chairmanship, Populous has had some of its most successful years in its 35-year history.

“When you think about Jerry’s career, he had a roster of clients any professional would envy. But he was the consummate professional, and what grounded him every day was bringing leadership to the event teams as they prepared and delivered life’s most memorable moments,” Santee said. “As we reflect on what it means to carry Jerry’s torch forward, it’s an incredible legacy and a road map to leave for generations to come.”

Jerry is survived by his wife, Rebecca, and son, Jackson; a brother, Dave, and his father, Gerald.

Many have asked how to honor the memory of Jerry Anderson. We want to let you know Jerry’s family is suggesting gifts to the Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards, Colorado, where Jerry received much of his treatment and care.

Online donations may be made at www.vailhealth.org/make-a-gift.  The instructions:

  • Click on the link above to reach the donation page with Tribute gifts.
  • Click on the “In Memory” box and enter Jerry’s name in the space provided. Comments may be left as well.
  • You’ll also be asked for a “designation” for your gift.  The family suggests the “Greatest Need at Shaw Cancer Center” or the “Survivorship Programs at Shaw Cancer Center.”

Please feel free to share this information with Jerry’s many industry friends and colleagues.

Thanks for your caring interest,

The Populous Family

17 thoughts on “Populous Remembers Co-Founder and Industry Leader Jerry Anderson
  1. Jerry defined “sports architecture event operations and planning”. His dimeanor dealing with his staff/organization encouraged them to push the envelope; always knowing he had your back and that once original bizarre concept/idea would actually work perfectly. He created the vision, assembled the team, and quietly led them to accomplish the
    unthinkable, flawlessly. Thanks for believing in us Jerry 🙏🏻✌🏻.

  2. Jerry’s remarkable presentation at our Annual Event was not only highly professional, but fascinating and humorous. The event builder’s industry had great respect for the pioneering role and his achievements in the world of large events. We will keep him in best memories,
    Daniel Cordey, Chairman of the Association of Global Event Suppliers

  3. A remarkable man, human being, dad, husband, and friend. A profoundly sad loss. Sincerest condolences to his family (both home and work) and all who loved Jerry. I will miss him dearly, but find peace knowing what an indelible mark he made on the world.

  4. Jerry fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith; he will be missed by all who knew you as a friend and colleague.

  5. Jerry, gave me the event planning bug, and I will forever be grateful. He hired me as I was leaving HOK Sport in London, to open a Denver Office for ADP….which became the anchor of the ACT team working in so many special events. My best to Rebecca and Jackson.

  6. We’ll all miss Jerry, a person of integrity, creativity, and professional service. I had the opportunity it’s to work with Jerry over many years and Jerry will be missed.

  7. Very sad to hear the news Jerry has passed on. A brilliant mind, a warm and engaging personality. Fond memories of him working tirelessly on the successful Paris 2024 Olympic bid.

  8. Our deep condolences to this terrible loss…
    Still remember our work over Sochi 2014. He was a great TEACHER and an incredible person
    Natasha, Kirill

  9. I was extremely sorry to hear about death of Jerry Anderson. On behalf of all our colleagues I express sincere condolences to his family and colleagues. We were lucky enough to work with him in preparation for the Olympic Games in Sochi. We will forever remember him as a high-class professional and respected colleague. He became a great friend to us and we will miss him very much.

  10. Jerry was one of the giants of the sports architecture and venue planning business. He was smart, talented, hard working and always fair to deal with. Like many, I have unbelievable respect for this unbelievably talented man and I’m so saddened to learn of his passing.

  11. Desperate news and proud to have worked alongside Jerry and got to know him. A true believer in our industry and a pioneer of his time…..and best of all, the nicest guy you could ever meet.

  12. I will remember him as one of greatest person that I take some knoledge in my life. He did open for me the grate world of Olympics Games planing.

  13. I had the privilege of first meeting Jerry when moving to Salt Lake City in 2001, and from my very first interaction it was evident the type of person he was. He was generous with his time, humorous in his demeanor, pragmatic in his approach and clearly an expert in all things venues and the Olympic Games. He will be sadly missed.

    My sincerest condolences to him family and close friends at this time.

  14. I am saddened at the news I just received about Jerry’s passing. A talented professional with a demeanor that provided a great working environment for me and my staff at many Super Bowls he will live in my memory forever. No matter how complex the task, Jerry met the challenge with professionalism and made even the most difficult of circumstances a fun challenge to deal with. I will always cherish the years at the many Super Bowls we worked together. My sincere condolences to his family, a life taken too soon.

  15. I’ve lost my brother-in-law and best friend. It was not until I first worked a Super Bowl in Dallas that I saw Jerry’s immense skills first-hand. Up until then, we’d been buddies, and he was the Uncle that made my children laugh with his silly jokes, but he never talked about his own talents. “Staying in the shadows” was something he practiced in his own life. Over subsequent years working at Super Bowl, I never saw Jerry refer to notes, whether he was solving a stadium issue, or taking an unlooked-for phone call from staff or clients from around the world. His capacity to recall details on everything was only surpassed by his ability to remain calm and make thoughtful decisions, while somehow making time to check in with his staff to make sure they were on-track and appreciated. He was an expert skier and regularly kicked my butt on bike rides in California, Nevada, Spain, and Italy. He loved fly fishing and shared a couple of secret spots with me that will remain secret. He was a loving husband to Rebecca and a great Dad to Jackson. I am so lucky to have been his friend.

  16. Jerry was a total prince, one of the most generous people I’ve ever met who was willing to lend a hand and support people irrespective of their position or social standing. I’m saddened by his loss and just want his family to know what a great human being he was.

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