Einer Anderson, who for more than 20 years served as Crow Wing County Auditor and was an avid outdoorsman, died Friday at Bethany Good Samaritan Village. He was 92.
Anderson was born in Crosby, grew up in Cuyuna and graduated from Crosby-Ironton High School. He served as a pilot in World War II flying a B-25 in China, Burma and India.
Upon returning to Minnesota he and his wife, Margaret, who died 10 years ago, moved from Cuyuna to Brainerd.
"He was a wonderful person and a great father," said his daughter, Sandra Sheperd. "He did a lot of things with us kids as we were growing up. For a '50s father he was a very dedicated father."
His son, John Anderson, of Colorado, said father was an avid outdoorsman and conservationist. He recalled spending time at their Pelican Lake home clearing brush and planting trees.
"He loved to be in the woods," John Anderson said.
Anderson also had an adventurous streak. He traveled to the Arctic several times, traveling by canoe on the Thelon, Nelson, Hayes and God's rivers, backpacking in remote villages and visiting ancient ruins. He had also backpacked on Mount McKinley in Alaska and canoed throughout the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota.
He also was involved in the YMCA; the Boy Scouts, where he helped his son achieve the rank of Eagle Scout; the Elks Club; the American Legion; the Crow Wing County Historical Society, where he was given an honorary life membership; helped start the French Rapids Ski Area; and in the Brainerd Rotary Club, where he served as president from 1968-1969.
"He had a great life," John Anderson said. "Dad was almost 93. He did pretty good up to the last six months and then he started to have problems. But he lived a great life."
Anderson served as Crow Wing County Auditor from 1954-1977. Conrad Bye, who had worked with Anderson for several years, followed Anderson as county auditor from 1977 to 1988.
"He was just a remarkable individual," Bye said. "He had a tremendous amount of integrity and was a principled individual."
Bye said Anderson was most interested in making sure county government worked for everyone, regardless of what district they lived in. He also worked to make sure the Cuyuna Range area benefited from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and directed efforts for the county to keep land it owned along lakes and rivers to ensure its use for the public.
Anderson also kept county commissioners on a straight and narrow focus, Bye said.
"Today the strengths in the county have a lot to do with Einer Anderson, his foresight and how he did things," Bye said. "He always told me, 'Just remember, you only have one integrity, don't lose it.'"
Roy Luukkonen, who served as county auditor from 1988-2006, was hired by Anderson in June of 1968. He said at the end of his career Anderson had the foresight to see the coming of the computer age and had tax statements prepared electronically rather than by pen and paper.
"Einer was a very fine gentleman, a fine boss to work for," Luukkonen said. "He was very professional. I enjoyed working for him."
John Anderson said his father was committed to the county, how it was run and how it served the people. He recalled his father helping out deer hunters by selling licenses from home after office hours.
"He was always thinking of other people and taking care of those kinds of things," John Anderson said.
Hanspeter Borgwarth was a friend of Andersons and served on the Rotary board when Anderson was president. He said Anderson was a well-respected man whose judgment was valued.
"He was a great leader with good judgment. Basically Einer a very humble man," Borgwarth said. "He had a lot of dignity, integrity and it was great to serve with him on the board."
Gary Kurilla first met Anderson in 1964 and later became the Andersons neighbor on Pelican Lake.
"Einer was a long-time Rotarian, a gentleman and a good friend to many with a great sense of humor," Kurilla said. "He will be missed by many."
Funeral services for Anderson will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at Lutheran Church of the Cross is Nisswa. Friends may visit 1.5 hours before the service at the church.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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