Donald J. Anderson, M.S.S.W., passed away peacefully on March 3, 2023. Don was a life-long advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as a teacher at the UW-Madison School of Social Work, Community Outreach Coordinator at the UW Waisman Center, and founder/board member of Create-Ability, Inc. Don was instrumental in the development of a variety of innovative community support programs through his collaboration with other advocates in local, state, and national organizations. His impact on the many families with whom he worked and the myriad of students he taught and mentored is immeasurable.
Don was born June 6, 1938, on the family farm on W. 33rd St., Zion, Illinois. He was the youngest of four children of Leontine and Milton Anderson. He graduated from Zion-Benton High School in 1956. He majored in Voice and graduated with a BA in Music from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1960. At the UW, he met his future wife, Linda Arden Morford of New York City, while spending time at the Student Baptist Center. They married in 1959 at Riverside Church in NYC. In 1967, Don enrolled at Milton College to fulfill credits needed to enter a Master’s program at UW. In 1969, the family moved from Madison to Beaver Dam when Don and Linda were hired to work at the Dodge County Mental Health Center in Juneau. Don completed his Master’s degree in Social Work in 1971 at UW-Madison after which he and Linda commuted to Madison, as Don began working for Dane County Mental Health Center and at the UW’s School of Social Work and Waisman Center while Linda taught in the UW Occupational Therapy program. From 1980, the family resided at their beloved lakeshore home in Madison. Don retired in 2004 and was awarded emeritus status in 2006. In retirement, he continued to advocate for people with disabilities, provide mentoring, and serve on committees.
He is survived by his two sons, Eric (Audrey) of Kalaheo, HI, and Brian Wesley (Rebecca) of Avon, CO. Wes and Becky blessed him with two grandchildren, Lucia Aileen and Boden Ivar Anderson. He is also survived by many beloved nieces, nephews, and extended family members with whom he always made time to connect. He was preceded in death by his wife, Linda, in 2011; and his 3 (older) siblings: Rachel (Richardson), Wesley, and Irene (Christophersen); and nephew, Brent Richardson.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 3rd, from 11 am, at the UW Waisman Center’s Ziemann Suite. Address: 1500 Highland Ave, 8th Floor, South Tower, Madison, WI 53705.
A lunch buffet will be offered after the service. No RSVPs needed; all may attend.