Dear WSCRC Members and Friends,
It is with great sadness that the Washington State China Relations Council marks the passing of Robert Carl Anderson (Bob), one of the founders and the first president of the Council. Bob died peacefully on July 8th, just a few days before his 92nd birthday.
Bob was a veteran with six years of service, including active duty with the Naval Air Service during the Korea War. In 1968 he was elected Mayor of Everett, where he played a key role in having Boeing establish their 747 plant at Paine Field. Bob served as the Mayor of Everett through 1977.
In 1978, Governor Dixy Lee Ray appointed Bob as the Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce and Economic Development. In this capacity he traveled to China with the Governor and met Deng Xiaoping. Following that trip Bob, together with four other foresighted individuals, established the Washington State China Relations Council to build ties between the state and China. As stated in his obituary “Bob was particularly proud of being a founding President and Director of the Washington State China Relations Council.”
Dr. Robert Kapp, who was appointed by Bob as the Executive Director of the Council, provided us with his recollections of Bob:
“How to speak of Bob Anderson in a few words? Let’s put it this way: without Bob Anderson, there would be no Washington State China Relations Council. Without Bob Anderson, the rapid progress that Washington State made in its multi-sided China engagements in the decade of greatest optimism and activism would not have been made. And without Bob Anderson with his particular combination of friendliness, open-mindedness, personal energy, clarity of expression, and deep political savvy, both Washingtons would not benefitted from the fledgling organization whose founding he led. Bob was a man for all seasons, and all occupations: he was a public servant of the best kind, decent, ethical, and practical. His working life spanned the private sector, the public sector, and the NGO sector. His personal life brought us to know the talented and wise Dona Anderson as well. Whether members of today’s WSCRC knew Bob Anderson personally or not, they are the beneficiaries of his vision and his leadership, as are the Council’s long list of friends and colleagues in the PRC.
On a personal note, I will forever be grateful to Bob for the gamble he and the Council’s founders took on me, a youngish academic with an imploding campus career and almost no experience in either the business sector or in politics. Bob, who was then heading Washington State’s Department of Commerce, found a bit of state funding for the inauguration of the Council, and told me, “This has to last until you can pay yourself a salary.” It was a wonderful challenge and a wonderful opportunity.
Thanks again, Bob, for tolerating me as I made the transition from my old world to my new one, and for leading our Council along the paths to expanded Washington State engagement with China. I will always feel honored to have been your disciple and your friend.”
Jim Dwyer, one of the original founders and former president of the Council, also sent us his memories of Bob: “Bob was an instrumental founder of the Council. He brought the perfect temperament to help bridge the mission of the council with the public sector, private sector and other non profits, some of whom considered the council a potential competitor. The beautiful thing he always carried himself with a smile on his face.”
The Council is honored to have been graced by Bob’s wisdom, guidance, and service over the years. We send our sincere condolences to his family.
Bob’s memorable life and accomplishments are described in this obituary written by his family.