Robert Anderson, the longtime mayor of International Falls, Minn., died Friday morning. He was 77.
Anderson spent his entire life in the U.S.-Canada border town, a tireless advocate for the community and an employee at the local papermill for five decades.
“I don’t think there’s a better ambassador for International Falls, going way back,” said Paul Nevanen, head of the Koochiching Economic Development Authority. “He was, in many senses, the voice and face of International Falls for a long time.”
Anderson and his wife, Carol, had three children and five grandchildren, according to his biography for the Outdoor Heritage Council, where he held a state Senate-appointed seat.
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That’s just one of the many leadership posts Anderson held during his life. He had been a city council member in International Falls and was its mayor from 1968-86. He was reelected mayor in 2012, according to the International Falls Daily Journal.
He held positions with the Minnesota Forestry Association, League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the International Falls-Koochiching County Airport Commission and “many regional and statewide committees and commissions for air service and highway transportation,” according to his biography.
Nevanen said the mayor understood small towns needed a strong voice at the state Capitol in order to thrive. They also needed relationships with people in power, which Anderson had, and he’d put them to work for his community.
“He would drive down to St. Paul and back for a day and not think anything of it,” Nevanen said.