Kenneth C. Anderson, Department of Justice attorney, dies

Mr. Anderson was an attorney for more than 50 years.

Kenneth Charles Anderson, a retired Department of Justice attorney who worked on the breakup of AT&T in the 1980s, died of kidney failure Oct. 9 at the Sinai Hospital hospice.

The Canton resident was 80.

"He was a tiger. He went after his goals with the tenacity of a bulldog," said George Saunders, a Chicago resident who represented AT&T in the 1980s. "He was a very fine lawyer. We were on different sides, but I could always trust his word."

Family members said Mr. Anderson was an attorney for more than 50 years. He began at the Federal Trade Commission in New York and worked from an assisted-living residence in Towson until days before his death.

"He worked on some of the landmark antitrust cases of the last half century, including as lead counsel in U.S. v. Otter Tail Power Co., which resulted in a Supreme Court decision that led to the deregulation of the electric power industry," said a son, Nils Folke Anderson of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Born in New Haven, Conn., he was the son of Kenneth Theodore Anderson and Margaret Schulzberg, who were caretakers on a farm.

He grew up in New Milford, Conn., and was a 1954 graduate of New Milford High School. He earned a degree at Gettysburg College, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He graduated from Cornell Law School in 1961.

His son said Mr. Anderson was passionate about social justice. He idolized a Swedish-born uncle, Gunnar Schulzberg, who volunteered in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

Mr. Anderson met his future wife, Patricia Marsh, at a 1963 Valentine's Day party in New York.

He became chief of the Special Regulated Industries Section of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

"Anderson was an unusual man," wrote author Steve Coll in his 1987 book in "The Deal of the Century." "Short, stocky, profane, and pugnacious, he seemed more like a retired boxer than a lawyer — he was like Jake La Motta with a sense of humor."

"Anderson's friends in the antitrust division called him a ''gutter-fighting litigator.' Those who were uncomfortable with his methods called him a 'loose cannon,'" wrote Mr. Coll. "To Anderson, there was only one thing that was important about any case: winning."

"My father was a lifelong country boy," said his son, who said Mr. Anderson represented farmers in cases such as DeLoach v. Philip Morris, which pitted tobacco growers against cigarette companies. "He had a strong commitment to free competition and economic and social justice."

A colleague, Stephen Weinstein, of Asheville, N.Y., said Mr. Anderson "was a man of high intellect and he was always using it in favor of the underdog. He was a great believer in individual rights and a defender of antitrust laws. He fought for good causes and against over-reaching corporations."

Another legal associate, Alex Pires of Washington, said: "Ken was fearless. He was almost a wild man who could take on big corporations, and he enjoyed that image.

"He was also clairvoyant about the breakup of AT&T. He saw a new world that once it was broken up, there would be freed talent," Mr. Pires said. "Ken was charismatic. He was also crazy for Baltimore."

"When you have a monopolist that's unable to reform itself, you need the government to prod change, to encourage people inside the institution who want to do things in a competitive fashion," Mr. Anderson said in a 1995 Wall Street Journal article.

"My father also approached life as a movable feast," his son said. "He initially raised a family on a 36-acre farm in Virginia before moving to Baltimore."

The family moved to Roland Park in 1985, where they lived briefly, then settled in Bolton Hill.

Mr. Anderson began spending vacations in Dewey Beach, Del., in 1971, and he and his family returned annually.

While Mr. Anderson practiced law in Washington and commuted to the Department of Justice, his wife enrolled at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Mr. Anderson and his family were the subject of a 1987 Washington Post article about living in Baltimore and taking a MARC train to the District of Columbia. "Moving to Baltimore has been enormously rejuvenating," he said in the article.

Nearly 20 years ago Mr. Anderson moved to Baltimore's harbor. He lived at Henderson's Wharf on Fell Street and then at Tindeco Wharf in Canton.

"My father spent his later years living on the Baltimore waterfront," said his son. "He bought a skiff made by the students at the Living Classrooms Foundation, and he'd row around the harbor. He loved it."

Mr. Anderson was a contributor to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, where he established a scholarship fund.

Plans for a memorial celebration are incomplete.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 59 years, a painter; another son, Erik Anderson of Baltimore; a daughter, Karin Anderson Ponzer of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.; a brother, Richard Anderson of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and six grandchildren.

jkelly@baltsun.com

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