President of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club Dies in Crash on Safari, Wife Survives
Bob Anderson, 70, a noted Montana conservationist, wilderness advocate and three-term member of the Montana Public Service Commission, died on Oct. 10, 2013, as a passenger in a one-vehicle rollover in Serengeti National Park. He and his wife, Grace, who survived the accident, were returning from a climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Robert Lindsay Anderson was born in Livingston on July 25, 1943, to Dora (Rued) and Walter Anderson. He graduated from Park County High School in 1961. In his youth, Bob developed a passion for exploring the wild public land near Livingston and spent countless days trekking and climbing in the Absaroka Range and Beartooth backcountry. That passion for wilderness became a core interest of his life and led to several lasting achievements in political leadership, congressional wilderness designation and successful advocacy for Montana’s environment.
Bob attended both the University of Montana and Montana State University, earning degrees in civil engineering from Montana State University. While in Bozeman, he met Elizabeth Joan “Jody” McCleave (Wills), who he married in 1966. They had a son, Robert “Scott” Anderson.
After studying at the University of Michigan, Bob moved to Helena to work in the Water Division of the Montana Department of Natural Resources. There he met Linda Stoll, and they married in 1976. Together they raised Linda’s son, Justin Beveridge, and they had a daughter, Crystal.
After returning to Montana, Bob began what became a lifelong commitment to protecting undeveloped public lands and natural resources. He marshaled community support to protect the Yellowstone River as — then and now — the longest free-flowing river in the continental United States and to prevent construction of Allen Spur Dam, proposed for a site on the river just south of Livingston. In the 1970s, he served as president of the Montana Wilderness Association, and in the 1980s was one of the founding members of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He was also a founding member of Citizens for the Great Bear, the organization that led the effort to obtain congressional designation in 1978 of the Great Bear Wilderness, a vital ecological corridor between the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park.
Bob’s greatest contribution to Montana’s wildland legacy may be the leadership he demonstrated — in writing, community organizing, media relations and lobbying — in a multi-year campaign to obtain congressional designation of the 944,000-acre Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in 1978. His book, “Beartooth Country: A Human and Natural History of Montana’s Beartooth Mountains,” was originally published by Montana Magazine in 1984.
Bob was elected to the Montana Public Service Commission in 1990, representing a district of several rural counties in central Montana and the urban areas of Helena and Great Falls. He was re-elected in 1994 and 1998. While serving on the commission and living in Helena, he sat on the board of the Myrna Loy Center, a community center for the arts in Helena.
While working for the Public Service Commission, Bob met Cynthia Grace Praul, an employee of the California Energy Commission. Bob subsequently moved to her home in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., in 2002, and they married in 2003. Maintaining his spirit for activism and community involvement, Bob joined a regional effort to protect the water quality and watershed health of Lake Tahoe. He was recently elected president of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club and co-founded the Washoe Meadows Community. He is also a member of the Board for Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences and the Pacific Rivers Council, a regional organization for river protection based in Portland, Ore.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Walt and Dora. His survivors include his spouse, Cynthia Grace; daughter, Crystal Anderson (children, Matilda and Tallulah) of Hamilton; sons, Scott Anderson (wife, Lea; children, Reilly and Elijah) of Rockton, Ill., Justin Beveridge of Las Vegas and Chad Praul (wife, Colleen; children, Lincoln and Hudson) of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
There was a Tahoe-area memorial on Friday, Oct. 25, and a celebration in a Montana gathering of friends and family will follow.
Memorial donations may be made in Bob’s name to the Permanent Endowment Fund of the Montana Wilderness Association’s Forever Wild Endowment, 30 South Ewing, Helena, MT 59601; and the Permanent Endowment Fund of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, 13 S. Willson, Suite 2, Bozeman, MT 59715.