After working as a commercial fisherman beginning at 13, after being drafted into the Army during the Korean War, after working his way from Anchorage Police Department rookie to chief of police, after winning a seat in the Alaska State House of Representatives, after launching a public-safety consulting firm, most would have called it good and retired two decades ago. But Charles G. Anderson is not like most. Since he still has the energy and desire, to stop using it to benefit others would not feel right.
Anderson, 83, has served on CIRI’s Board of Directors since 1987 and as chair since 2005. He has also served as vice chair of Southcentral Foundation’s Board for the past seven years. His devotion to improving the health and well-being of Alaska Native and American Indian people caught the attention of the National Indian Health Board, which recently honored him with an award of appreciation. (See story here.)
“It’s all about making life better for people,” he said.
Anderson has never been afraid of hard work, which seems to be a family trait. His father, Charles Gustav Anderson, left Sweden in the early 1900s and found his way to Seward, where he built a boat and sailed to Kodiak. There, he met and married Nellie Simeonoff, a Russian Aleut. As what passed for a honeymoon in those days, the newlyweds were dropped off by a cannery tender in Chinitna Bay in the fall, and made arrangements for a pickup in the spring. They built a cabin, then spent the winter trapping. Spring came, but with the bay still frozen, no boat. They were close to starving until the ice began to thaw and a hooligan run came along to sustain them.
Anderson was their second child, born on a mink ranch on Long Island south of Kodiak, and was raised in Kodiak.
“A lot of what we did back then was fishing, hunting and cutting wood in support of our subsistence lifestyle,” he said. “My father passed away when I was 16. Then I began working to help support our family. We ate from nature’s grocery store. Whatever health I have today, I attribute to that.”
Anderson joined the APD in 1953. His second day out of the gate was a scene right out of a movie when, pursuing a gunman inside the old federal building, he and the suspect ran smack into each other, the suspect went down and the gun went scooting across the floor. After working his way through the ranks, he became chief of police just in time for Anchorage’s rowdy Pipeline days.
He and his wife, Georgia, have been married 60 years. Their daughter, Patti Juliussen, lives in Eagle River. They lost their son, “Charlie,” to a brain tumor in April 2011. Told he had six months to live, Charlie lived six years. It was a rough six years, but he made the most of them and inspired many along the way.
“He was an absolutely great guy,” said Anderson, who was best man at his son’s wedding. “He and I were like best friends.”
Anderson is a graduate of the FBI Academy and the Keeler Polygraph Institute. He has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission, the Juvenile Justice Commission, the State Legislative Ethics Committee, the University of Alaska Criminal Justice Advisory Board, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and others.