BY GERALD PAPAZIAN / USCPAA PRESIDENT
The U.S. House of Representatives, and the House Page program, lost one of its own with the passing of the Honorable Donnald K. Anderson in August 2020. Anderson served as a House Page during the 86th Congress in 1960, having been appointed by Rep. John E. Moss of California. After attending Sacramento State University and George Washington University, Anderson spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve. Donn continued to work in various roles in the House until 1972 when Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma appointed Anderson as House Majority Floor Manager, a position he held for 15 years.
Anderson dreamed of become the Clerk of the House of Representatives. In 1960, after a brief conversation with Clerk of the House Ralph R. Roberts, while making a delivery to his office, Anderson decided that “being Clerk of the House has to be the best job in the world, and my fantasy as a 17-year-old high school senior was to be the Clerk of the House—little knowing that 27 years later, I actually would become the Clerk of the House.”
Jan. 6, 1987, Anderson realized his lifelong dream, when he was sworn in as the Clerk of the House for the 100th Congress, a position he held for eight years, until retiring in 1995. In all his positions, Anderson served with integrity and dedication, taking immense pride in placing the duties of his office before partisanship or political ideology, which became a cornerstone of his tenure as Clerk. As Anderson noted, he was committed to “ensuring that my office was absolutely nonpartisan, that we treated all Members with the same courtesy, the same expediency, the same confidentiality, so that Members of the Minority … could unburden themselves with me, even though I was a Democrat, knowing that I would never break their confidence.”
As Clerk, he was instrumental in the formation of the House Office of Employee Assistance and the Office of Fair Employment Practices, which continue to serve as vital tools for all House employees to receive the support and resources they need to effectively do their work on behalf of the American people. He also generously shared his deep knowledge of the legislative process and House protocol with new Members during “freshman orientation.” One of Clerk Anderson’s most lasting effects on the House was his commitment to modernization. In an era before cellphones, Clerk Anderson’s campaign to introduce electronic beepers was a great success, and he constantly sought new tools to ensure Members were kept up to date on House proceedings. By harnessing new technologies, Anderson helped the House set the foundation for doing business in the information age and in a world increasingly reliant on technological innovation.
A resident of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, Calif., he was a member of the House Page Board for many years. He was a regular attendee of House Page luncheons and activities. Anderson loved the institution of the House of Representatives, and the House Page program. He served as a mentor to hundreds of former Pages. One of those former Pages, Doug Geiss (H, ’87), shared about Anderson (paraphrasing): “If you are lucky in life, you will have role models beyond your parents. If you are even more blessed, those role models become friends. At 16, I had the best boss in the world—no other has compared. As a boss, you were strict, but with a guiding hand. You also broke the barrier between office decorum and personal connections. Your respect for the institution of our Government, and service to its furtherance over 35 distinguished years, is truly an inspiration. I lost a great friend today. The former Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Honorable Donnald K. Anderson.”
Baptized a Catholic in 1979, his godparents were Reps. Corinne “Lindy” Boggs (D-La.), Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) and former Speakers of the House, John W. McCormack (D-Mass.) and Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill (D-Mass.). In 1991, he was invested by Pope John Paul II in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Papal order of knighthood under the protection of the Holy See.
Anderson was buried during a private ceremony in Sacramento on Aug. 13, 2020. Through the leadership of former Pages Doug Geiss and John Crabtree-Ireland (H, ’87), the U.S. Capitol Page Alumni Association sent 1,000 red and yellow roses in a special hand-made arrangement for the ceremony at the cemetery.
Anderson’s love for the House and dedication to the institution stands as an enduring example for all those who will follow in his footsteps to serve the Congress and the American people.
Should you wish to view the video of the memorial ceremony that was held in Sacramento, please click here and enter the password capitolpage