Robert J. Anderson, 85, former chief of the forerunner of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who retired in 1966 as assistant U.S. surgeon general, died of an aortic aneurysm July 24 at his Arlington home. He had lived in this area on and off since 1943.

Dr. Anderson was appointed to head the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta in 1956. During his tenure the first national flu vaccines were administered and a center headquarters was built. He later was chief of the bureau of state services of the Public Health Service.

Dr. Anderson began with the PHS in the North Atlantic, aboard a Coast Guard cutter in the early 1940s. He directed two rural health departments in Missouri before being named chief of the PHS division that was responsible for occupational health and control of tuberculosis and venereal and other chronic diseases.

After he left the PHS, Dr. Anderson was medical director of the American Thoracic Society and managing director of what became the American Lung Association.

Dr. Anderson was a native of Minnesota and a graduate of Carleton College. He received a medical degree from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree in public health from Columbia University. He interned at Marine Hospital in Staten Island, N.Y.

Dr. Anderson served on the White House Council on Science and Technology and was a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Chest Physicians and American Public Health Association. He was president of the Rivercrest Civic Association and a volunteer with United Way, Northern Virginia Tuberculosis Association and the Community Residence for the mentally ill in Arlington.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Ruth Kittleson Anderson, and two children, Robert J. Anderson Jr. and Julia Anderson, all of Arlington; and a grandson.