“Delwin M. Anderson, 91, who was director of social work programs for the Veterans Administration, died July 20 of pneumonia at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County. He lived in Arlington.
During World War II, when Mr. Anderson was serving in the Army, he contracted hepatitis and was unable to join his unit during an offensive. When many of his comrades were killed or wounded in battle, Mr. Anderson determined that he would dedicate his life to helping veterans.
He joined the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) in 1947 as a field social worker in Duluth, Minn. He held positions with the VA in St. Paul, Minn., Detroit and Columbus, Ohio, before coming to VA’s central office in Washington in 1961.
In 1964, he became director of social work service in the VA’s Department of Medicine and Surgery. He supervised 2,600 social workers in 171 veterans hospitals and in hundreds of other facilities across the country. At the time, it was the largest social service program in the United States.
Mr. Anderson brought a new understanding of social work to the agency, emphasizing the social circumstances surrounding illness and disability. He helped design programs to enable injured or ill patients to return to their families and to productive lives in their communities.
At his retirement in 1975, he received the VA’s Distinguished Career Award. He was the first person named to the Association of VA Social Workers Hall of Fame. In 1971, he wrote the entry on veterans services in the Encyclopedia of Social Work.
Mr. Anderson was born in Escalon, Calif., and grew up mostly in small towns in Minnesota. After attending Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., he transferred to the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1939. He received a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota in 1946.
Mr. Anderson was chairman of the Arlington County United Way’s social planning committee and served on its executive committee. He was a member of the Health and Welfare Council of the National Capital Area and various commissions on mental health and retardation. He volunteered for many other organizations and provided tax services to the elderly for 25 years through AARP.
He was a member of Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, where he served as deacon and lay minister. He chaired the church’s Board of Social Action.
His wife of 42 years, Evelyn Anderson, died in 1984.
Survivors include his wife of 21 years, Caroline Hufford Anderson of Arlington; a daughter from his first marriage, Linda Anderson of Houston; four stepsons, Fred Hufford and Nick Hufford, both of Arlington, Steve Hufford of McLean and Mark Hufford of Hyattsville; a brother; a sister; and nine grandchildren.”
Tributes to Delwin M. Anderson
“Del Anderson was the personification of a great social worker.” – Jean K. Quam
“Del Anderson was a strong influence on my early VA career.” – Paul Burton
“Del was a faithful and loyal member of NASW and very involved in numerous ways.” – Elizabeth J. Clark
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