Wendell R. Anderson

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Wendell R. Anderson
Wendell Anderson.jpg
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
December 30, 1976 – December 29, 1978
Appointed byRudy Perpich
Preceded byWalter Mondale
Succeeded byRudy Boschwitz
33rd Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 4, 1971 – December 29, 1976
LieutenantRudy Perpich
Preceded byHarold LeVander
Succeeded byRudy Perpich
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 44th district
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 4, 1971
Preceded byClifton Parks
Succeeded byJohn C. Chenoweth
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 49th district
In office
January 8, 1963 – January 3, 1967
Preceded byBill Dosland
Succeeded byRobert O. Ashbach
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 37th district
In office
January 6, 1959 – January 8, 1963
Preceded byS. L. Beanblossom
Succeeded byGeorge A. French
Personal details
Wendell Richard Anderson

(1933-02-01)February 1, 1933
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedJuly 17, 2016(2016-07-17) (aged 83)
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Farmer-Labor
Mary Christine McKee
(m. 1963; div. 1990)
EducationUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities (BA, LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1955–1957 (active)
c. 1957–c. 1963 (reserve)
RankFirst Lieutenant

Wendell Richard "Wendy" Anderson (February 1, 1933 – July 17, 2016) was an American hockey player, politician, and the 33rd governor of Minnesota, serving from January 4, 1971, to December 29, 1976. In late 1976 he resigned as governor in order to be appointed to the U.S. Senate after Senator Walter Mondale was elected Vice President of the United States. Anderson served in the Senate from December 30, 1976, to December 29, 1978. (After losing the 1978 Senate election to Rudy Boschwitz, he resigned a few days before the end of his term to give Boschwitz seniority.)[1][2]


Anderson was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1933. He attended Saint Paul's Johnson High School and the University of Minnesota, where he received a B.A. in 1954. He earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1960.

Anderson served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1957, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant.[3][4] He later served with an intelligence unit in the Army Reserve.[5][6][7]

Hockey career[edit]

Anderson played defense for the University of Minnesota from 1951 to 1954, and was a member of the U.S. hockey team that won a silver medal at the 1956 Winter Olympics. Long after his on-ice career ended, he was drafted by the Minnesota Fighting Saints in the inaugural World Hockey Association draft of 1972, in what was seen as a publicity stunt. (Not to be outdone, another WHA team selected Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin.) While flattered, Anderson chose to remain governor.

Political career[edit]

Anderson as governor.

Anderson served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1959 to 1962 and in the Minnesota State Senate from 1963 to 1970.[8] He was elected governor of Minnesota in 1970. His signature accomplishment as governor was helping to create the "Minnesota Miracle of 1971", an innovative reform in financing of Minnesota public schools and local governments that created a fairer distribution in taxation and education. For his efforts Anderson was featured on a 1973 cover of Time magazine.[9]

After U.S. Senator Walter Mondale was elected vice president in 1976, the governor had to appoint Mondale's successor. Anderson agreed with his lieutenant governor, Rudy Perpich, that Anderson would resign as governor, and Perpich, as the new governor, would appoint Anderson to the Senate.

In what became known as the "Minnesota Massacre", nearly the entire DFL Party ticket was defeated in 1978, including Perpich and the candidates for both U.S. Senate seats, Anderson and Bob Short. Anderson's arrangement to have himself appointed to the Senate—and Perpich's role in that appointment—were deemed central factors in the defeats.[10][11]

From 1995 to 2001 Anderson served as a director for and head of the legal committee of Turbodyne Technologies Inc. (TRBD) in Carpinteria, California. In his later years he was regularly called upon to act as a commentator on Minnesota politics for local stations such as KSTP-TV.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Anderson married Mary Christine McKee (1939-2018) of Bemidji, Minnesota, in 1963. They had three children: Amy, Elizabeth, and Brett. They divorced in 1990.[12]

In the 1970s, Anderson appeared on the TV game show "What's My Line?" A panel consisting of Gene Rayburn, Arlene Francis, Gene Shalit and Sheila MacRae was unable to guess that he was the governor of Minnesota.

In 1975, two of the Swedish District lodges of the Vasa Order of America selected Anderson as Swedish-American of the Year.[13]

Anderson died on July 17, 2016, of complications of Alzheimer's disease.[14] He was 83.


  1. ^ "Governors of Minnesota: Wendell R. Anderson". Minnesota Historical Society. Archived from the original on July 25, 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  2. ^ Nathanson, Iric (October 27, 2010). "'Spendy Wendy' and the 1970 gubernatorialelection". MinnPost. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  3. ^ Former MN Governor Wendell Anderson dies at 83
  4. ^ United States Congressional Serial Set - Volumes 13112-13116
  5. ^ The Legislative manual of the State of Minnesota. ... 1959-1960
  6. ^ Minnesota Legislative Manual 1961-1962
  7. ^ Minnesota Legislative Manual 1963-1964
  8. ^ a b "Anderson, Wendell Richard "Wendy"". Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  9. ^ "Magazine Cover: Governor Wendell Anderson". Time. August 13, 1973. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  10. ^ McGrath, Dennis J. (December 6, 2017). "DFL's mishandling of 1976 Senate appointment led to party's 'Minnesota Massacre'". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  11. ^ Gilbert, Curtis (May 30, 2008). "Thirty years ago it was the Republicans' year". Minnesota Public Radio News. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  12. ^ Weniger, Deanna (December 24, 2018). "Former MN first lady, who held her own during Wendell Anderson's term, dies". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  13. ^ "Wendell R. Anderson" Vasa Order of America[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Coolican, Patrick; Walsh, Paul (July 18, 2016). "Wendell Anderson, former Minnesota governor, dead at 83". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. Retrieved July 8, 2020.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Minnesota
1970, 1974
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by United States Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Hubert Humphrey, Muriel Humphrey, David Durenberger
Succeeded by