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Howard B. Anderson passed away Saturday, May 15, 2010, in Hancock, MI, at the age of 95. Of Swedish ancestry, he was born December 13, 1914, in Escanaba, MI, a son of Oscar and Edla Anderson. He later moved to Bark River and to Iron Mountain, MI, where he graduated from High School. As a youth he was interested in all things scientific and electronic and he made a hobby out of building radios. He received an AB degree in math and science education in 1938 from Northern State Teachers College, now known as Northern Michigan University, and in 1939 an MA degree from the University of Michigan, majoring in mathematics with minors in physics and chemistry.
From 1939 to 1942 he was head of the math department for the L’Anse, MI, high school, where he met his future wife, Selma W. Holquist. In 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he taught electronics in the Signal Corps School in Chicago and served with the Office of Strategic Services, communications branch, in North Africa and Italy, attaining the rank of Technical Sergeant.
In 1945 he returned to teaching as head of the high school science department in Peshtigo, WI, until his marriage in June of 1946. The couple moved to Hancock, MI, where Howard began his teaching career at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (MCMT), now known as Michigan Technological University (MTU), in Houghton, MI. While on the teaching staff, he worked for and earned a BS in electrical engineering from MCMT, awarded in 1953.
He was involved with the early use and construction of computers on campus, including an effort in analog computing. He also spent some time at Argonne National Labs and at North Carolina State learning about, and working on, problems related to nuclear reactor theory. He was a member of numerous professional societies including the American Astronomical Society (AAS), Mathematical Association of America (MAA), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and the American Nuclear Society (ANS), as well as many community organizations, especially including the Presbyterian Church. He continued to have very broad technical interests throughout his life.
At MTU he focused his strong passion for teaching largely on efforts in pre-calculus mathematics. In 1965 he published a text book “Analytic Geometry with Vectors” (McCutchan Pub Co, Berkeley, CA) with a second edition printed in 1966. His teaching efforts were recognized by MTU in 1974 when he was presented with MTU’s distinguished teaching award. He retired as Professor of Mathematics in 1981 though he could often be found helping students years later as emeritus professor.
Along with teaching, he loved astronomy and for many years he also taught an interdisciplinary course on practical astronomy entitled “Engineering Astronomy.” The local community benefited from his enthusiasm through his activities as an astronomy consultant for a local radio station, his articles in the local newspaper including one in 1954 explaining how to photograph an upcoming eclipse, his presentations in 1979 of slides he took of that total eclipse, through his preparation of guides for satellite viewing including schedules for Echo I and II satellite passes, and his numerous astronomy presentations taking place over many years to area high school teachers, students at local schools, summer camps, and for a local science club.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, and his parents. He is survived by a daughter, Suzelle (Bill) Benett of Akron, OH, a son, Dr. William (Sally) Anderson of Hancock, MI, a brother, Oscar W. Anderson of Houghton, MI, and several grandchildren.
Prepared January 2012 by B H Suits, Physics Department, Michigan Technological University, in response to a request from Jay Pasachoff of the American Astronomical Society.
Obituary written by: B H Suits
BAAS Citation: BAAS, 2012, 44, 001