Merle Lorenz Anderson, 96, of Climax MN, was called home to heaven on August 13, 2018. On that morning, his wife Lee had arrived to tend to her husband as she had done every day for the last 74 years and as if waiting for his “sweetheart” one last time, Merle took his last breath within minutes of Lee’s arrival and his wish for eternal peace was granted.
Merle was born on August 31, 1921, in Crookston, MN, to the late Leonard and Rose Anderson. He attended a small country school not far from his farmstead, but his real education came at home, learning at the foot of his dad all about farming. Merle always considered himself a farmer first. Along with his dad, and younger brother, they raised small grain and livestock. When his dad retired, in 1948, Merle purchased the family farm, taking over the operation.
During those early farming years, Merle managed to find himself a lovely girl from East Grand Forks: Lee Shimek. On December 15, 1943 they were joined in marriage. 6 years later, they welcomed a cherub faced baby girl named Barb. Merle considered Barb “the apple of his eye” from day one and every day after.
Merle’s primary focus in his first years of farming was potatoes. He joined forces with Joe and Jerry Larson as Anderson-Larson Farms for many years. In 1978, he partnered with Jerry Tronnes, forming Anderson-Tronnes Farms. He continued to farm with Jerry until his retirement in 1989.
Talk to Merle long enough and he would tell you about the benefits of Ethanol. Merle was a champion for the alternative fuel, testifying on its behalf before legislature on a number of occasions. His tenacity led him to form The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and served as its first president. He is affectionately considered “the Father of Ethanol”.
Over the course of his life, Merle held many positions in organizations and received many awards for his accomplishments. He was a local and national leader for the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and The Red River Valley Potato Growers Association, with appointments to the National Potato Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Potato Advisory Committee. In I977, the RRV Potato Grower’s honored him with their Meritorious Service Award. The following year, they named him Potato Man of the Year.
He served 42 years on the Red River Valley Cooperative Power’s board of directors. He was also a director for the Minnkota Power Cooperative. He was honored by the East River Cooperative with the Eminent Service Award. He is also a recipient of the Nikola Tesla Award for his service to the electric power industry. He was awarded the Electric Hammer Award, in 1979, on behalf of Rural Electrics. Recently, he received the Meritorious Service Award from Farmer’s Union.
Locally, he was involved with the Sand Hill Lutheran Church, and held a variety of community leadership positions with the Farmer’s Union Oil Company, Citizen’s State Bank, which he was a co-founder, and the Climax Development Corporation. He also co-founded The Climax Credit Union.
Among his numerous awards, Merle also has the high honor of having an award named after himself. The Merle Anderson Award was first given in 1997 and is given annually to an individual in public service who has made significant contributions to the advancement of Ethanol. He was pretty proud of this.
A self-proclaimed professor of The Norwegian College of Knowledge, he was known for telling a joke or two to his fellow morning coffee drinkers. He loved to laugh, especially at his own jokes. The enjoyment he got from getting a laugh out of someone was written all over his face.
Merle is survived by his loving wife, of almost 75 years, Lee of Grand Forks ND; One daughter, Barb Tronnes of Climax, MN; One granddaughter, Lacey of Grand Forks ND; and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents Leonard and Rose Anderson and one brother, A.D. Anderson.
In lieu of flowers memorials are preferred
Funeral Service: 10:30 am on Monday, August 20, 2018, at Climax Lutheran Church in Climax, MN.
Visitation: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm with a 6:30 pm prayer service on Sunday, August 19, 2018, at Climax Lutheran Church in Climax, MN.
Interment: Sand Hill Lutheran Cemetery ~ Climax, MN
Online Guestbook: www.dandahlfuneralhome.com
Arrangements By: Dahl Funeral Home ~ East Grand Forks, Minnesota