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Two rarely linked terms described Scott Robbins Anderson, according to his family and friends: "fun" and "CEO."

The retired chief executive officer of North Memorial Health, well known for his joie de vivre, died April 10 at his winter home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 83.

Anderson was a "trailblazer" who transformed a community hospital in Robbinsdale into a sophisticated health system with a second hospital campus in Maple Grove and a Level 1 Trauma Center with an air ambulance service, said Dr. Kevin Croston, North Memorial's current CEO.

"He was a very good businessman because he was a real people person," Croston said. "He listened. If someone had a good idea, he'd run with it. If he didn't agree, he'd explain why. He never left you hanging."

Born in Moorhead, Minn., Anderson earned an undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota and a graduate degree from the University of Iowa in health care administration. He spent 41 years at North Memorial, a quarter century of that time as CEO, and retired in 2005.

"His friends and colleagues accused him of one thing: Being able to keep a job!" joked his wife, Jennifer Anderson, of Scottsdale and Minnetrista.

Anderson steered the hospital to solid financial ground and resisted the trend to consolidate, said Konrad Friedemann, North Memorial's former outside counsel.

Widely respected in his field, Anderson served on the board of the Minnesota Hospital Association from 1996 to 2006, and as its chair in 2000. He was also chair of LifeSource, a nonprofit organization that facilitates organ, eye and tissue donations in the Upper Midwest.

Susan Gunderson, LifeSource's founder and chair emeritus, said Anderson helped secure more than $1 million from Hennepin County for their headquarters building in Minneapolis, touring sites and working with designers and construction personnel.

"Scott was an incredible relationship person," she said. "He was so good as a leader because he genuinely cared about people."

Anderson attended countless employee picnics and appreciation events, carving the ham or turkey in the buffet line. "He would come back home around 4 a.m. smelling like Porky Pig," his wife said. "He loved every minute of it."

When he was in the North Memorial area last summer for a medical test, he found that the nurses were on strike — and promptly joined the picket line.

The Andersons founded Educare in retirement, jotting down an initial idea on a Mai Tai-stained napkin. He served as the firm's chair, a job he described as "man who sits in chair and stays out of the way!" The training program now serves some 2,500 health care clients.

The Andersons traveled the world and entertained frequently, judging new restaurants by the "three C's:" chardonnay, Caesar salad and crème brulee. They saw close to 100 Broadway shows, including "42nd Street" — his favorite, with "all the happy dancing and music," his wife said.

Friedemann recalled a "Grade the Steak" party where blindfolded guests taste-tested filets from the finest Twin Cities restaurants prepared by a chef. "How he finagled raw steak out of all those steakhouses, I don't know," he said.

A longtime member of the Golden Valley Country Club, Anderson was notorious on the course for his putting skill. He perfected a miracle putt at least 100 yards from the tee — dubbed "the Scotty" — that befuddled opponents and "left their pockets dry," Jennifer Anderson said.

Beside his wife, Anderson is survived by sons Scott II, of Tokyo, Japan, and Matthew, of Folsom, Calif.; daughters Kelly Biernat, of Woodbury, and Kara, of Scottsdale; and seven grandchildren. A private interment at LifeSource's Healing Garden is planned for this fall.