GOVERNORS OF MINNESOTA
C. (Clyde) Elmer Anderson
Twenty-eighth State Governor
September 27, 1951 - January 2, 1955
Thirtieth Lieutenant Governor
January 2, 1939 - January 4, 1943
Thirty-third Lieutenant Governor
January 2, 1945 - September 27, 1951
(Anderson became governor when Governor Luther W. Youngdahl was appointed to the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C.)
Born: March 16, 1912
in Brainerd, Minnesota
Died: January 22, 1998
in Brainerd, Minnesota
Married to: Lillian Otterstad (1937)
Ethnic Background: Swedish
Occupation: Magazine distributor, lieutenant governor
After unexpectedly rising to become Minnesota's twenty-eighth governor, Brainerd native C. Elmer Anderson presided over a period of prosperity in Minnesota history. Though not known for any particular piece of legislation, Anderson is remembered for his level-headed demeanor and his ability to persuade without heated discourse.
Anderson had to get a job at age fourteen to help support his family following his father's death, so he began delivering papers at E.W. Schmit's wholesale magazine and newspaper business, Service News Inc. He graduated from high school and attended the University of Minnesota in order to become a physician, but his tuition money ran out after two quarters, and he returned home. Anderson went back to his old company and soon learned the details of operating it. When Schmit died a few years later, Anderson bought the company from his parents, becoming the owner and president at just twenty-two. Under his ownership, the company added a photo finishing service and expanded rapidly.
At twenty-six, Anderson decided to run for the nomination of the Republican Party for lieutenant governor against two better-known candidates. Anderson won, crediting his Swedish surname for the victory. When he and thirty-one-year-old Harold Stassen (who was running for governor) went on to win the general election, they became the youngest team ever to hold Minnesota's highest executive offices. It also began a record eleven years for Anderson in that office (1939-1941, 1943-1951) under three different governors. In 1951, Gov. Luther Youngdahl suddenly stepped down to accept an appointment to a federal judgeship, and "The Forgotten Man of the Republican Party," as Anderson was known for his low profile, assumed the governor's seat. He advocated for an active government concerned with social reform tempered by fiscal conservatism, and as an incumbent, he narrowly defeated Orville Freeman in 1952. Two years later, he again ran against Freeman, but this time it was he who lost a close election.
After that defeat, Anderson returned to private life, only to soon catch the political bug again. He ran for and served as mayor of Nisswa and later of Brainerd until being unseated in a four-way race in 1986. Making a vow never to return to politics, he became the straight man for a musical-comedy troupe called "Geritol Frolics." Anderson stood by his vow right up to his death in 1998 at eighty-five.