Lillian Margaret Otterstad Anderson

Lillian AndersonFirst Lady
September 27, 1951 - January 2, 1955

Born: June 19, 1913
in Turtle River, Minnesota

Died: July 21, 1998
in Brainerd, Minnesota

Married September 1, 1937 to C. Elmer Anderson

Lillian Margaret Otterstad was born in Turtle River, Minnesota in 1913, one of six children of Louis and Marie (Gronhaug) Otterstad. She grew up on her family's farm and resort just north of Bemidji. When Lillian was sixteen, her family moved to Brainerd, Minnesota and she graduated from Washington High School in 1931. She met C. Elmer Anderson on a blind date arranged by a friend, and they were married in 1937. The Andersons had three children: Patricia (b. 1944), Janet (b. 1949) and Clyde (b. 1953).

Anderson served six terms as lieutenant governor before becoming governor when Luther Youngdahl stepped down to accept an appointment to a federal judgeship in 1951. Lillian preferred privacy but made the best of her position as a political wife. Her son, Clyde E. Anderson, reportedly said, "I don't think that was the life she would have chosen when she was younger but she handled it the best she could and tried to help my father in any way she could." She was said to have a "sharp sense of humor" and enjoyed gardening, sewing and, in later life, playing cribbage with friends.

The couple returned to the Brainerd area when Anderson was defeated for relection in 1954; he later served as mayor of both Nisswa and Brainerd. Lillian was active in the Nisswa Women's Club, organized to assist the needy in the 1930s, and was a member of First Lutheran Church of Brainerd. The couple's interest in their community continues today through the C. Elmer and Lillian Anderson Memorial Fund, which provides an annual cash award to a Brainerd High School graduating senior. C. Elmer Anderson died in January 1998 and Lillian passed away six months later. Both are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd.

Photographs of Lillian Anderson