Anderson was born in Moonlight, New Zealand to a Swedish father and an Irish mother. In 1914, he moved to the United States to work as a surveyor in Hoquiam, Washington. He passed an engineering examination at Seattle University before moving to the recently founded city of Anchorage, Alaska to work for the Alaskan Engineering Commission. In 1927, he married Alma Menge, with whom he had three daughters: Jean, Patricia and Shelby.
In the 1930s, Anderson worked on the Matanuska Colonization Project, building infrastructure to support the settlement of the Matanuska Valley. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He also participated in the construction of the Eklutna River hydroelectric dam and designed the Hodge Building in Whittier. In 1951, he was elected President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Anderson served on the Anchorage City Council before being appointed in 1956 to complete the term of Mayor Ken Hinchey. Anderson was elected the following year, but ill health forced him to resign early.
- "Obituary: Jean Graves", Anchorage Daily News, p. B9, October 29, 2003
- Nyman, Frank (February 1, 2004), "A history lesson: engineering in Alaska has come a long way", Alaska Business Monthly
| Mayor of Anchorage
1956 – 1958