Henry B. Anderson was born May 30, 1918 in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania and educated in Edgewood, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He graduated high school with high honors and continued his education at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. After completing his undergraduate degree in 1940, he accepted a position at Wesleyan as assistant to the Director of Admissions, Victor L. Butterfield, who would later become president of the University.
While pursuing a Master’s degree and working under Dr. Butterfield, the war in Europe escalated. Anderson left Wesleyan and entered the U.S. Navy in June of 1941. He served as enlisted personnel officer of Headquarters Squadron Eight, then for Commander Fleet Air. In 1944 he was transferred to the staff of Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, Commander of Task Force 58, to serve as Awards Officer. In 1945 he survived two kamikaze attacks within the same week on the carriers Bunker Hill and Enterprise. He was awarded a silver star for his efforts in organizing firefighting parties aboard the Bunker Hill. Additionally, for services rendered to Admiral Mitscher and his staff as flag secretary he was awarded a bronze star.
With the war ended Anderson returned to Sherman, Connecticut. He resumed his pursuit of a master’s degree at Wesleyan and simultaneously attended UConn School of Law for his J.D. While both programs were ultimately financed by the G.I. Bill, the Veterans Administration initially indicated that the Bill did not provide for concurrent study at two institutions, which put Anderson in a difficult position. Upon closer examination of the Bill, Anderson found that “the Bill was silent in regards to this particular matter”. He relayed this information to the V.A. indicating that he would attend both institutions, and should his eligibility expire, he would take responsibility for both tuitions. Anderson recalled “…my first legal problem satisfactorily settled, I had enough eligibility for the two degrees with a lot of time left over.”
In June of 1948, on the same day, Anderson received a law degree at Storrs, Connecticut, and then travelled to Middletown, Connecticut to receive a master’s degree at Wesleyan, presented by his friend and mentor Dr. Butterfield. Anderson notes that UConn went so far as to adjust their graduation time by one hour so that he would have enough time to make the drive to Middletown.
After graduation, Anderson shared office space with Harry B. Bradbury, a lawyer in New Milford and fellow Wesleyan graduate. They shared space until the fall of 1950 when Francis Ferriss, a New Milford practitioner, asked Anderson to become his partner, forming the firm of Ferriss and Anderson. After the sudden death of Ferriss in 1957, Anderson partnered with Paul B. Altermatt who returned to New Milford from his practice in Indiana. In 1962, the firm of Cramer, Blick, Fitzgerald, and Hume merged with Anderson and Altermatt to form Cramer and Anderson—where Anderson stayed until his retirement in 1998.
During his fifty years of law practice in the New Milford area Anderson was heavily active in the legal community. He was a founder of the Connecticut Attorneys Title Insurance Company and served as a director on the executive committee. He also served on the Connecticut Bar Examining committee in multiple capacities—member, secretary, and eventually chairman. He was president of the Litchfield County Bar Association, Chairman of the real property section of the state bar, and served as director of Connecticut Legal Services in Middletown.
In addition to his military accolades, Anderson was the recipient of numerous distinguished legal awards. In 1989 he was voted Citizen of the Year by the State of Connecticut Courts of Probate. In 1990 The Connecticut Bar Association awarded him the John Eldred Shields Award for his professional services to the community at large—over 900 hours of pro bono services. He was also voted Probate Attorney of the Year by the Connecticut Probate Assembly.
Anderson’s history and personal narrative is part of the Alumni Spotlight Series which supports the Law School’s mission to “preserve the past, and build our history, one narrative at a time”. This series focuses on alumni who have contributed to our project as we prepare for the 100th anniversary of the Law School in 2021.