Politics & Government

John Anderson Jr., former Kansas governor, dies at 97

Gov. John Anderson Jr.
Gov. John Anderson Jr. Courtesy of KansasMemory.org

John Anderson Jr., who served as Kansas governor from 1961 to 1965, has died at age 97, his daughter-in-law said Wednesday.

Anderson died Monday at an extended-care facility in Olathe, his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Anderson told the Associated Press. She said he “just wore out.”

Before winning a seat in the Kansas state Senate in 1952, Anderson practiced law in Olathe and served as Johnson County attorney, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. He was appointed attorney general in 1956 and won re-election in 1956 and 1958. In 1960, Anderson, a Republican, ran for governor defeating Democratic incumbent George Docking. Anderson successfully ran for re-election in 1962.

Anderson, born in Olathe in 1917, served two two-year terms as the state’s 36th governor from 1961 to 1965. Kansas governors served a two-year term until it was switched to four years by a constitutional amendment that was passed in 1974.

After his term ended, Anderson returned to his law practice in Olathe. He again sought his party’s nomination for governor in 1972 but was defeated in a Republican primary election by Morris Kay.

“He enjoyed his life,” Elizabeth Anderson said. “He was always a gentleman. He was always polite and always glad to see people. He still liked shaking hands, probably up until a week ago.”

Gov. Sam Brownback has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff through Friday to honor Anderson.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of Governor Anderson’s passing,” Brownback said in a written statement. “He devoted many years to serving the people of Kansas, and we are grateful for his dedication to our great state. The Lt. Governor and I, along with Mary and Ruth, extend our heartfelt sympathies to Governor Anderson’s family and friends. They are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

He was the first governor to live in Cedar Crest, the official mansion.

Elizabeth Anderson said her late father-in-law is survived by two sons and daughter. His wife of 67 years, Arlene Auchard, died three years ago.

At the family’s request, all funeral arrangements will be private.

Contributing: Associated Press; Rick Plumlee and Joshua Wood of The Eagle

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