International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson, a civic figure in the community for more than 50 years, died unexpectedly Friday morning.
The 77-year-old mayor had not been sick, and his death was a surprise, City Administrator Ken Anderson said.
"I saw him as recently as 7:30 last night," he said. "He was coming back to the office when I was leaving. A state representative needed some information from him, so he came back to the office about 7:30 p.m. And that was the last I saw him."
Bob Anderson previously served as a city councilor and later mayor in International Falls from 1968-86. He was again elected mayor in 2013, and Ken Anderson said he had intended to seek re-election next year.
Anderson was a lifelong resident of International Falls. He attended Rainy River Community College and worked for 51 years for the Boise paper mill in town, 25 of them as public affairs manager for the Boise Cascade Corp., according to a biography from the Minnesota Legislature's website.
He was a past president of the League of Minnesota Cities and a chairman of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce board of directors. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Minnesota Forestry Association and chairman of the state's Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. He also chaired the International Falls-Koochiching County Airport Commission for more than 30 years.
"I don't know if you have enough print (to list) all the things that he's done and the legacy he's left in the city of International Falls as well as the state and in the paper industry," Ken Anderson said. "He's just been a towering figure in our community. We're going to feel a big loss here."
Bob Anderson is survived by his wife, Carol, and three children and several grandchildren, according to the Legislature's biographical entry.
State Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, called Anderson a "consistent, effective advocate for International Falls" in a statement Friday afternoon.
"Even as times changed, he was tirelessly working to create new opportunities for the people of northern Minnesota and strengthen our way of life," Ecklund said in the statement. "I greatly enjoyed partnering with him as we worked together to deliver local priorities at the state Capitol."
The International Falls City Council will meet Monday to declare the position officially vacant. According to its charter, the city has 60 days to appoint a new mayor, Ken Anderson said. City Councilor Harley Droba was previously appointed mayor pro tempore, and he will fulfill any mayoral duties until a new mayor is chosen.