Herb Anderson quietly made A.L. a better place

Published 9:35 am Thursday, March 11, 2010

A quiet community leader died last weekend after a short battle with cancer.

Herb Anderson, 78, of Albert Lea died Saturday at St. John’s Lutheran Home from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“He will definitely be missed,” said Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr. “He will be remembered with great fondness for all the good things he did.”

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A cashier at Norwest Bank for 30 years, Anderson most likely will be remembered for his dedication to the community and interest in helping people leave legacies for their loved ones.

“Herb really was all about individuals leaving a legacy — doing something with their dollars when they passed on that would have a positive impact in the community,” Kehr said. “He encouraged people to really think about where they might want to leave their money and, where possible, helped them do that.”

Kehr said there have been numerous organizations and foundations that have benefited from Anderson’s understanding.

Anderson was a longtime Chamber Foundation board member, who was always a voice of reason, Kehr added. He was concerned that the foundation put its money in the best places it could go, “that we make thoughtful decisions and that we be good stewards.”

Albert Lea Family Y Director Dennis Dieser said Anderson was also on the board for several years at the Y and was involved with the youth fund drives. He resigned recently after what was probably about 10 years in that capacity.

“He was very quiet and unassuming, but when he had something to say you knew you needed to listen to him,” Dieser said. “The thoughts and wisdom he had were very, very good. He quietly did for the community all the time.”

Over the years, Anderson also served on the Freeborn County Historical Society board, the United Way of Freeborn County board, and numerous other asset-building organizations, including the Freeborn County Communities Foundation and the Kenneth W. Olson Foundation, to name a few.

Dieser said he is proud and happy that Anderson was able to work with the staff at the Family Y.

“He did a lot of good things for us,” he said.

Dieser described Anderson as a “great guy, who was just a fantastic person.” Anderson mirrored the core values of the Y: caring, respect, honesty and responsibility, Dieser added.

United Way of Freeborn County Executive Director Ann Austin said Anderson went off the United Way’s board just before Austin replaced retiring Executive Director Dave Bonnerup.

She said she had always wanted to meet Anderson, and then one day he came to the United Way office to visit her and Corrine Applegate. They talked about the community and the focus of the United Way. He visited a few more times.

“He was just a real inspiration to me,” Austin said. “In a few conversations we were able to have, they were very powerful to my vision of what the community is going to become.”

She described Anderson as a “truly good person,” “a visionary,” who used his words wisely.

He was a man who read a lot, who didn’t care about TV and who loved cats, she said.

“He loved cats so much because they gave so much and never asked for much in return,” Austin said. “In a lot of ways he played that same role in the community. He helped people because he wanted to help them — that’s really what we’re meant to do.”

She said he wasn’t afraid of dying but was curious about how the end would be. When he found out about the cancer, he decided not to get treatment.

“He was very brave to decide not to go through chemotherapy,” Austin said. “He wanted to live the rest of his life as functional as possible. He felt it wasn’t worth it to him to go through that process.”

He told Austin if there is one thing he wanted to be remembered for, it’s that he chose to die naturally.

Kehr, who has the same disease, same Anderson came in to talk with him after finding out his diagnosis late last year.

“He just made the decision, based on his age, he wouldn’t have any treatment and let it just run it’s course,” Kehr said.

His funeral arrangements are pending at Bonnerup Funeral Service in Albert Lea.