In memory of Irma Anderson ’48, last of the Carthage ‘Legacy Ladies’
Remembered as a consummate Carthaginian, Irma (Niekamp) Anderson ’48 actively supported her alma mater in numerous capacities for almost 80 years.
The Carthage community is grieving for Mrs. Anderson, who passed away Jan. 15 at age 96.
She was the last surviving member of Carthage’s “Legacy Ladies.” Along with Ruth Johnson ’84 and Beverly (Hand) Keller ’61, Mrs. Anderson earned that unofficial title by attending every groundbreaking ceremony on the Kenosha campus.
Like the other two distinguished women, Mrs. Anderson was far more than a spectator in Carthage’s development. Together with her husband, the late Alan Anderson ’50, she helped the College navigate two critical periods in its history.
For her involvement as a Carthage ambassador, volunteer, and philanthropist, Mrs. Anderson received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1999.
“Irma Anderson, Legacy Lady, will long be remembered as exemplifying Carthage — past, present, and into the aspirational future. No one was more loyal, no one more devoted,” said President John Swallow. “We have much to learn from her example, and we will miss her tremendously.”
After graduation, Mrs. Anderson worked as a hospital dietitian and taught high school home economics. The college sweethearts married in 1950, and Mr. Anderson joined the Carthage staff the following year. Together, they played a pivotal role in the campus move from western Illinois to Kenosha.
During a 35-year career at Carthage, Mr. Anderson held positions in admissions and development. He ultimately served as the 21st president of the College in 1986-87, setting the stage for a period of unprecedented growth.
Mrs. Anderson attended hundreds of campus events and criss-crossed the United States with her husband, recruiting students and visiting alumni. A longtime resident of nearby Racine, Wisconsin, she took part in a variety of civic organizations.
Philanthropically, she has given to Carthage for a remarkable 42 consecutive years. The couple established a scholarship for children of Carthage alumni, and another fund is named in Mrs. Anderson’s honor. After donating a kitchenette for The Tower Residence Hall, which opened in 2018, she used it to bake cookies for building residents.
During 26 years in the Office of Advancement, Elaine Walton ’79 came to know Mrs. Anderson as “a lovely and precious friend who lived her life with faith, courage, and imagination.” Not coincidentally, both women saw the same qualities in their shared alma mater.
“Her love and commitment to her husband, family, friends, church, college, and community were unparalleled,” said Ms. Walton, who remained in touch with her friend after retiring as associate vice president in 2019. “I will remember and miss her infectious giggle, her tendency to linger at the end of every event to visit just a little longer, and her uncanny ability to remember the names of every person she met associated with Carthage!”
The Carthage legacy has been passed down through generations of the family. All three of the Anderson children are alumni: former trustee Ross Anderson ’75, Jolene (Anderson) Morris ’77, and longtime staff member Jane (Anderson) Spencer ’80. In all, 19 members of the extended family have graduated from the College.
A celebration of her life will take place at Bethania Lutheran Church, 4120 Wright Ave. in Racine, on Saturday, Feb. 11. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., with the service to follow at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Alan and Irma Anderson Endowed Scholarship Fund, Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI 53140 and/or to Bethania Lutheran Church.