Robert O. Anderson

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Robert Orville Anderson, (died in 2007) "petroleum executive, rancher and civic leader, has been active in the oil industry since his graduation from The University of Chicago in 1939 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

"Mr. Anderson served Atlantic Richfield Company (formerly known as Atlantic Refining Company) as its Chief Executive Officer for 17 years, as Chairman of the Board for 21 years and as a member of the Board of Directors for 23 years. Mr. Anderson retired from the company in 1986 to form an independent oil and gas company. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hondo Oil & Gas Company, Roswell, New Mexico, from September 1986 to February 1994. He remains an active wildcatter for oil and gas, as well as other business interests.

"Mr. Anderson served as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 1961 through 1964. He has served on the Board of Directors of Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, Columbia Broadcasting System, New York; First National Bank of Chicago; Weyerhaeuser Company, Tacoma, Washington; and Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Inc. of Los Angeles. In the past 55 years his business endeavors have included - in addition to the exploration, production, refining and marketing of oil - cattle raising and feeding operations, mining and milling, and general manufacturing.

"... Mr. Anderson has served on the Board of Directors of national Petroleum Council since 1951 and is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, recognizing his extensive interest in public and charitable affairs. He was the first recipient of the Charles A. Lindbergh Award for Significant Achievement in 1978; inducted into Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 1986. He was the first recipient of The Dwight D. Eisenhower Medal of Excellence in 1989. He is Honorary Chairman of Aspen Institute, Aspen, Colorado; Chairman of Lovelace-Anderson Endowment Foundation, Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was the Founder of International Institute for Environment and Development, London; and is a Life Trustee of California Institute of Technology and of The University of Chicago, and is a member of the National Advisory Board of The University of New Mexico Anderson Schools of Management. Mr. Anderson is a former member of the Board of Regents of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology from 1987 to 1992, and in 1994 was named Distinguished Professor, Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering.“ [1]

"Even two decades after his retirement and even after Atlantic Richfield was bought by BP seven years ago, Mr. Anderson stood out as perceptive, unpredictable and outspoken.

"He was an oilman who warned of global warming caused by fossil-fuel consumption in the 1980s, and more than once advocated higher taxes on his industry. He rescued two flailing publications, The Observer, a British newspaper, in 1977, and Harper's magazine in 1980.

"He was also a Reagan Republican who held many top nonelected posts in the Republican Party and favored nuclear power and a smaller federal government. ..

"He helped found the Worldwatch Institute in Washington to monitor global environmental trends, the International Institute for Environment and Development in London to study environmental and food issues and the John Muir Institute of the Environment in Davis, Calif....

"Beginning in 1957, he assembled a farming and ranching enterprise exceeding a million acres, rivaled only by the renowned King Ranch. He, David Rockefeller and another partner once owned another million acres in Brazil." [1]

"Mr. Anderson’s long sponsorship of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies began in 1953, when he bought a summer home in Aspen. In 1960, at the urging of his friend Walter Paepcke, he became chairman of the board of trustees, serving in that role until his retirement almost 30 years later.

"Mr. Anderson’s other philanthropic interests were diverse. He was an early supporter of the environmental movement, founding the International Institute for Environment and Development (London). He helped establish the John Muir Institute of the Environment (Davis, Calif.) and the World Watch Institute (Washington). He was a director or active supporter of the World Wildlife Federation, the Renewable Resources Foundation, the American Farmland Trust, The Nature Conservancy and the American Land Trust. He was active in the seminal United Nations conference on the environment, convened in Stockholm in 1972." [2]

"He has been active for many years in political affairs, having served as New Mexico Committeeman on the Republican National Committee." [3]

Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife of 68 years, the former Barbara Herrick Phelps. One of his sons is Robert B. Anderson, another is Phelps Anderson. [4]




  • Jack Raymond, Robert O. Anderson: Oilman/environmentalist and His Leading Role in the International Environmentalist Movement (University Press of America, 1988).

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  1. Robert O. Anderson, Oil Executive, Dies at 90, NYT, accessed June 23, 2010.
  2. Robert 0. Anderson, The Aspen Times, accessed June 23, 2010.
  3. Robert O. Anderson (1917-2007),, accessed October 3, 2011.
  4. Chief of oil giant Atlantic Richfield left mark on Aspen, denverpost, accessed June 24, 2010.