School 14

Ronald Eugene Anderson

June 14, 1941 ~ December 21, 2020 (age 79)


Ronald Eugene Anderson, Professor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities died in St. Paul on December 21, 2020.  He lived in Saint Paul and Wayzata during the past 30 years.  Ron was born in Sikeston, Missouri in 1941.  He spent 9 years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during his childhood where his father started a hospital and served as personal physician to the court of Emperor Haile Selassie. He attended colleges in Washington and California and graduated with a doctorate in Sociology from Stanford University.  Ron taught and researched Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota from 1968-2005.

For most of his professional career, Dr. Anderson was involved in three distinct disciplines:  sociology, educational research, and computer science. His contributions in each area included teaching, research, and writing.  As an expert on technology and society, Ron championed efforts to bring technology and social science to bear on public debates.  Many of his publications (125 articles, 4 books authored, and 5 books edited) describe and critique the use of computers and new media in research, teaching, and learning.

Upon Ron’s retirement, he established the nonprofit Foundation for the Relief of Suffering, Inc. and concentrated his efforts in the broad subject area of worldwide suffering.  With Ron's blessing, efforts are underway to create an online portal via website hosted in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota to serve as a permanent archive of his research on social suffering and collective well-being as well as an outlet for new work that is an active, ongoing recognition of his legacy. More details about his professional life are included in Wikipedia at

Ron loved to travel and visited over 80 countries for his professional endeavors and for pleasure, often with his wife Nancy.  He wrote memorable summaries of many of those trips, which he shared with his family.  As an accomplished photographer, he not only documented the trips, but captured many fantastic images of the life around him. He curated photographs taken by his grandfather while serving as a missionary in China during the early 20th century during the Chinese revolt of the Qing Dynasty.  These photographs were featured in museum exhibits in China, and in English and Chinese language picture books chronicling that historic time.  They are now part of a permanent collection in the Hoover Institution at Stanford.  As a longtime resident of Wayzata, MN, Ron worked tirelessly to protect the historic Bushaway Road during the planning and completion of a project to widen and repave the road. Ron also served on the board of directors for the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, Inc.

Ron is survived by his wife of 30 years, Nancy Kehmeier of Saint Paul, and his son Evan (Marilyn) of Edina. He is also survived by a sister Rosalie Lynn and brothers Merlin (Marylou) and James (Anne).  He was preceded in death by his parents Merlin Gustav Anderson MD and Frances Eleanor Anderson and his daughter Gina Anderson MD.

In accordance with Ron’s wishes, no memorial service is planned.  In lieu of flowers, Ron’s wishes were that memorial donations be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.


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