Forrest H. Anderson

Forrest Howard Anderson (January 30, 1913 – July 20, 1989) was an American politician, attorney, and judge who served as the 17th Governor of Montana from 1969 to 1973.[1] Prior to this, he served as the Attorney General of Montana from 1957 to 1969 and as a member of the Montana Supreme Court.

Forrest H. Anderson
Forrest H. Anderson.jpg
17th Governor of Montana
In office
January 6, 1969 – January 1, 1973
LieutenantThomas Lee Judge
Preceded byTim M. Babcock
Succeeded byThomas Lee Judge
Attorney General of Montana
In office
January 7, 1957 – January 6, 1969
GovernorJ. Hugo Aronson
Donald G. Nutter
Tim M. Babcock
Preceded byArnold Olsen
Succeeded byRobert L. Woodahl
Justice of the Montana Supreme Court
In office
Member of the Montana House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1913-01-30)January 30, 1913
Helena, Montana
DiedJuly 20, 1989(1989-07-20) (aged 76)
Helena, Montana
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Margaret Evelyn Samson


Anderson was born in Helena, Montana.[2] His father, Oscar Anderson, was an immigrant from Sweden and his mother, Mary O'Keefe, was an Irish immigrant. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Montana and obtained his law degree from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He was admitted to the practice of law in 1938. He married Margaret Evelyn Samson on January 24, 1941, and they had three children.[3]


Anderson was a Democrat. He served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1943 to 1945. He was a Lewis and Clark County Attorney from 1945 to 1947. He was also an Associate Justice on the Montana Supreme Court from 1953 to 1957, a delegate to the 1956 Democratic National Convention, and served three terms as Montana Attorney General from 1957 to 1968.[2]

As Attorney General, he came to prominence during the 1959 State Prison riot, when he personally negotiated with the prisoners. Running for Governor in 1968 he defeated the incumbent, Governor Tim Babcock, largely on an anti-sales tax platform notable for the campaign slogan, "Pay More, What For?"[3]

Elected as Governor of Montana in 1968, Anderson was sworn in on January 6, 1969, and served until January 1, 1973. In his influential and somewhat controversial single term in office, he considered his greatest accomplishment to be the executive branch reorganization that he oversaw. This combined several hundred state agencies, boards, commissions and councils into nineteen departments. The controversies he faced included a major dispute with the Fish and Game Commission and its commissioner, Frank Dunkle, over environmental issues and sportsmen's access to state lands. The biggest political clash he faced occurred in 1971, when the Montana Legislature debated a sales tax. When the Legislature deadlocked, Anderson called them back into special session twice, and finally the issue was put to a ballot referendum, where it was soundly rejected. During his tenure, another major accomplishment was his establishment of the Board of Investments, which was able to remove state funds from low yield bank accounts and invest them in higher yield accounts.[3]

Anderson strongly supported and authorized the 1972 Constitutional Convention, then helped facilitate its implementation after it was ratified that year.[2]

Later lifeEdit

Anderson did not run for a second term because of poor health, and was succeeded in office by his lieutenant Governor, Tom Judge.[3]

In 1989, Anderson, who had been in failing health for years, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his home.[4][5] He was cremated and his ashes are interred in Forestvale Cemetery, Helena, Lewis and Clark County, Montana. The Forrest H. Anderson Memorial Bridge which crosses the Missouri River in Craig is named in his honor.[6] There is a marker at 47°04′13″N 111°57′22″W / 47.07023°N 111.956087°W / 47.07023; -111.956087 near Craig close to the river and highway bridge which memorializes Anderson and his passion for fishing and hunting.[7]


  1. ^ "Former Governors of Montana". Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Forrest H. Anderson". National Governors Association. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Montana Governor (1969-1972: Forrest H. Anderson) records, 1968-1972". Archives West. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Forrest Anderson, Ex-Governor Of Montana, Kills Himself at 76". The New York Times. Associated Press. July 23, 1989. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  5. ^ "Index to Politicians: Anderson, E to F". Political Graveyard. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  6. ^ "Montana bridge dedicated to former governor". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. July 8, 2007. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  7. ^ "Photo: Remembering Governor Forrest H. Anderson Marker". Retrieved 4 August 2020.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Roland Renne
Democratic nominee for Governor of Montana
Succeeded by
Thomas Lee Judge
Legal offices
Preceded by
Arnold Olsen
Attorney General of Montana
Succeeded by
Robert L. Woodahl
Political offices
Preceded by
Tim M. Babcock
Governor of Montana
1969 – 1973
Succeeded by
Thomas Lee Judge