Walter L. Anderson, company founder, GAO official

January 24, 2013

Walter L. Anderson, 90, an electrical engineer who started a metal-fabrication company and became a senior adviser at what is now the Government Accountability Office, died of cardiac arrest Jan. 10 at the Greenspring retirement community in Springfield.

A son, Donald Anderson, confirmed the death.

Mr. Anderson spent his early professional career at Engineering Research Associates, an early computing firm, until he and other engineers left to form General Kinetics Inc. (GKI) in the mid-1950s.

He became board chairman and president of GKI, a metal-fabrication company that became a major supplier to the Navy and private industry and also was involved in magnetic tape testing and cleaning.

Under Mr. Anderson’s guidance, GKI shared an Academy Award in 1960 for scientific and engineering film technology for the design of an ultrasonic film cleaner.

After leaving GKI, Mr. Anderson joined the General Accounting Office and became a top liaison between the government and private industry. Before retiring in 1992, he became senior adviser to the GAO, reviewing the use of computers in government organizations.

Walter Leonard Anderson was a native of St. Paul, Minn. At the University of Minnesota, he received a bachelor’s degree (1944) and a master’s degree (1948) in electrical engineering. During World War II, he served in the Navy and became a radar officer in the Pacific.

He was a past president of the old American Federation of Information Processing Societies and helped plan its first USA-Japan Computer Conference, in 1972.

He was a co-founder of the Washington chapter of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) and later became a leader with an IRE successor group, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He was first national chairman of the IEEE Computer Group. He was a recipient of the IEEE Centennial Medal for extraordinary achievement.

Mr. Anderson was an elder of two churches in Falls Church, Knox Presbyterian Church and Idylwood Presbyterian Church. In 2002, he moved from Falls Church to Greenspring.

His wife of 62 years, Catherine Watton “Kitty” Anderson, died in 2009. Survivors include four children, David Anderson of Falls Church, Douglas Anderson of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Dale Lombardi of Wellesley, Mass., and Donald Anderson of Northampton, Mass.; a brother; and five grandchildren.

— Adam Bernstein

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