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Delwin M. Anderson

in memoriam
Delwin M Anderson (1916 – 2007)
Click here for the Obituary
Click here for his Social Work Pioneer Biography

“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.”

- article by Matt Schudel |

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

To read the full text of this tribute or to leave a tribute to Delwin, please click on the comments link below.


  1. Del Anderson was the personification of a great social worker. He had wonderful stories to tell of his time as a student with Whitney Young at the University of Minnesota. He was always interested in what students were doing and learning in school these days. He always had some “friendly advice” to give. He was very thoughtful and most recently send me a Graduate Bulletin from 1950 from when he was in school that he thought I would enjoy reading. He will be missed.

  2. Del Anderson was a strong influence on my early VA career. He was an intellient, compassionate, constructive person. He was a visionary in seeing the whole person including those with medical or psychiatric conditions. He was an early proponent of holistic approaches to veterans with disabilities. He left a lasting legacy in the VA.

  3. July 27, 2007

    Dear Family, Friends, and Associates of Delwin Anderson:

    On behalf of the 150,000 members of the National Association of Social Workers, please know how very sorry we were to learn of Del’s recent death.

    I would have liked very much to be present with you at the memorial service. As my schedule made that impossible, I have asked Bob Arnold, director of the NASW Foundation, to represent the national office of NASW.

    I have known and admired Del ever since I came to the NASW National Office in Washington, DC in 2001. Del was a faithful and loyal member of NASW and very involved in numerous ways.

    He was an NASW Social Work Pioneer, one of social work’s highest honors, and served on the Pioneer Steering Committee. Out of hundreds of thousands of social workers, only 400 or so have ever been elected as Pioneers. Del’s name is permanently mounted on a brass plaque in the Pioneer Room in the NASW National Office. His name and a brief biography are included on our Web site. It is our hope that his story will inspire students, social workers, and others to continue the important work to which he dedicated his life.

    In November, Del was one of six Pioneers who spoke at an NASW Listening Conference designed to capture the historical investment of the federal government in social work. Del spoke on the “Veterans Administration Investments in Social Services.” His research and observations are an important contribution, and will help NASW greatly.

    Yesterday, I spent the day at the Pentagon, as an invited participant in a meeting to discuss how better to care for our veterans. Throughout the day, I could not help but think numerous times of Del Anderson and his service as Social Work Service Director for the V.A. from 1964-1975.

    Over the course of his career and throughout his retirement, Del was deeply committed to the values of social work and to helping improve the lives of others. We are proud to claim him as one of our own.

    Del Anderson was a role model, a leader, and a friend. We will miss him greatly. And we will do our part to ensure that his legacy lives on.


    Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH
    Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers and President, NASW Foundation

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