On a July night in 1951, a young doctor was sweeping the floor at the new St. Louis Park Medical Center when parents with a bleeding child rattled the door.
They thought the man with the broom was a janitor. But he was Dr. Arnold S. Anderson Jr., pediatrician and one of the founders of the medical center, and he was preparing for its opening day. Anderson set aside his cleaning and stitched the child’s badly cut hand.
That memory well describes Anderson’s love of practicing medicine and his determination to build clinics close to the people most in need, said his son, Dr. Renner Anderson of Minneapolis, also a pediatrician.
“He was driven. If he was going to do something, he would,” Renner Anderson said. “I think of him as one of the last of the Greatest Generation. They came out of that war and had a fresh start on life, and he was one of those people.”
Arnold Anderson, known as Arne to his friends, died May 8 in Minneapolis. He was 99.
A no-nonsense person with an entrepreneurial streak, Anderson left an impressive legacy as a community benefactor. His long track record of accomplishments includes opening the St. Louis Park clinic, later Park Nicollet Medical Center, and the Children’s Health Center in Minneapolis, which has since become part of Children’s Minnesota.
Children’s was one of the first hospitals dedicated to kids that added professionals such as pharmacists, social workers and psychologists, said Dr. Phillip Kibort, who met Anderson in 1976.
“He was so far ahead of his time in saying it shouldn’t just be doctors to say what goes on with children,” said Kibort, chief medical officer at Children’s. “He didn’t do it for power. That man did it because he felt it was the right thing to do for kids.”
Anderson will be remembered for his important role in building two major medical centers, a rare feat anywhere in the U.S., Kibort said.
With the help of his wife, Rusk, Anderson wrote and spoke extensively about early childhood development, nutrition and adoption of disadvantaged children. He established medical services at Many Point Scout Camp north of Park Rapids, Minn., and spent summer vacations as a camp physician.
For many years, the Andersons hosted traveling missionaries, medical exchange students, foreign medical providers and immigrant families. They had belonged to the Religious Society of Friends — the Quakers — since 1952.
“He looked to Quakerism and to the religious philosophy of Quakerism for principles and values that he would apply to his life, his practice of medicine and the business of medicine,” said Patricia Jones, ministry director at Minneapolis Friends Meeting.
While Friends has a strong antiwar posture, “his focus was more on building communities, sowing the seeds of peace, of goodwill and cooperation and respect — more the things that help prevent war,” Jones said.
After 73 years of marriage, Rusk Anderson died in 2013. Anderson also was preceded in death by his son, Tyler, and his sister, Mary.
Besides his son Renner, he is survived by sons Jeffrey, Kimball and Whitney, all of Minneapolis, and Colin of Colorado; daughters Lucinda and Amy of Minneapolis, Martha of St. Paul and Susanna of northern Minnesota; brother Pat of Golden Valley, 17 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Av., Minneapolis.