Kenny Anderson lived his entire life in Sioux Falls, and made friends wherever he went. Anderson’s father, Virgil, was born in Campbellsville, Kentucky in 1892.
He moved with his parents to Fergus Falls, Minnesota when he was 3 years old. There he met Maggie Cooke, and they married in 1914. Virgil served his country during World War I before returning home in 1919. He and Maggie started their family in Minnesota and moved with their eldest four children to Sioux Falls in 1927. Virgil found work at the Carpenter Hotel Barber Shop while Maggie did her best to keep up with her growing family. They bought a little house on Bailey Street, east of Minnesota Avenue.
Kenny was born at McKennan Hospital in 1931 and attended area schools. When he got to Washington High, he received recognition for his talents on the basketball court. Well liked by those in his class, he was chosen in his senior year as Chief Jester, a position of honor, for the 1950 Spinster dance. He was in the running for homecoming marshal in his senior year as well, but that honor went to another.
After high school, Kenny enlisted in the Army and served in Korea as a tank commander. Upon his return in 1954, he attended Sioux Falls College and played on the school’s basketball team. He also married Muriel Rooney that year, and they started to grow their family. Kenny concentrated on his studies and basketball for the three years he attended SFC, pivoting into softball in 1957. Kenny was elected into the South Dakota USA Softball Hall of Fame in 1985.
After college, Anderson began working in the dry cleaning industry. He began learning the trade at Davis Tailors, and later worked his way up the ladder at One Hour Martinizing. In 1969, Richard Stock and his wife opened One Hour Continental Cleaners in the old Brodie’s Appliance building at 2223 W. 12th St. In 1971, the business was expanded to include a Laundromat. In 1975, Anderson bought the operation from Stock, renaming it Kenny’s Continental Cleaners.
In all aspects of his life, Kenny Anderson took a vested interest. He took part in the city development committee and was president of the Kiwanis Club as well as the Quarterback Club. He ran for City Commission (which would later become the City Council) in 1986 but failed to secure a seat. He took another stab at it in 1988, running a much more aggressive campaign for a two-year term vacated by Commissioner Dick Peterson. Ten other candidates were also on the ballot, including Carol Knudtson, Robert “Skippy” Blechinger and Clyde Twiggs. On June 21, the citizens voted. Anderson came out on top with 32.5 percent of the votes, while his closest contender, Carol Knudtson, brought in 22 percent. Because neither had received more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff election was scheduled for July 5. In the runoff, Anderson won by almost a 2-to-1 margin.
Anderson served his first term on the commission and announced his intentions to run for a full five-year term starting in early 1990. He was opposed by three and took in 63 percent of the vote, winning re-election easily.
On November 19, 1990, Kenny Anderson suffered a stroke while attending a meeting at City Hall. He was taken to McKennan Hospital for care. His condition was stable for a time but worsened over the course of the next 10 days. He died on November 29.
Kenny Anderson left behind a legacy of caring and service. He loved Sioux Falls and gave back at every opportunity. He left behind five children, one of which followed in his father’s footsteps. Kenny Anderson Jr. served Sioux Falls on the city council and ran for mayor.
In 1994, Kenny Anderson Park on the east side of town was dedicated to his memory. There are four softball fields there that he would have loved. The community center connected to Anne Sullivan Elementary School is also named after him.