Bob Anderson, a lifelong resident of International Falls, Minn., and its mayor for a second time around, has died.
Anderson died Friday, his family announced. He was 77, and a cause of death has yet to be disclosed. Rob Ecklund, a DFL state representative from International Falls, said Anderson "passed away suddenly."
In a statement, Ecklund added that Anderson's "track record of public service spanned several generations, and he was a consistent, effective advocate for International Falls. Even as times changed, he was tirelessly working to create new opportunities for the people of northern Minnesota and strengthen our way of life."
In an interview early this year, Anderson said, "I love my city having been born and raised here. ... My service to the city over the past 50 years has been a joy. My hope is that I have helped to make the city better in some small way because of my gift of time and my relationships with many of the business and political leaders throughout the state of Minnesota."
Both U.S. senators from Minnesota issued statements of mourning and praise for Anderson, describing him as an ardent supporter of his community of about 6,000 on the Canadian border.
"Mayor Anderson was passionate about his community," said Democrat Tina Smith, the state's junior senator, "and his love was reflected in his years of dedication to the airport, hospital, Highway 53 Task Force, the county, anything and everything connected to his beloved International Falls."
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota's senior senator and a Democratic candidate for president, said, "International Falls lost a longtime advocate, mayor and friend. He truly left his mark on his beloved hometown from his seats on the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and as its devoted mayor. Bob was also dedicated to improving communities across Minnesota through decades of public service on numerous statewide committees and advocacy organizations."
Anderson first served on the City Council in the late 1960s and was mayor in the early to mid-1980s. He was again elected mayor in 2012 and was up for re-election in 2020. City Council Member Harley Droba will take over the mayor's duties until a successor to Anderson is chosen.
Anderson also served as the president of the League of Minnesota Cities and chair of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
The Anderson family has owned several hundred acres in northern Minnesota for 60 years, growing trees for harvesting and developing habitat for wildlife.
Anderson attended Rainy River Community College and worked 51 years for the paper mill in International Falls, 25 of those as public affairs manager for Boise Cascade Corp.
He and his wife, Carol, had three children and five grandchildren.
Visitation is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Green-Larsen Mortuary in International Falls. His funeral will be Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Thomas Catholic Church, also in International Falls.