Dave Anderson '64

Dave Anderson '64
Nicole Sheldon

“When I look back over my life, there were a lot of opportunities. I’m glad I did not miss them.”

Dave had the privilege of traveling all over the world for Boeing, most often to China, Japan, and Russia, and made friends in every country. “Three of the most interesting places I’ve been include Morocco, Tibet, and the Russian far east, sometimes called ‘beyond Siberia.’ Part of my travel involved supporting sales, and part of it involved product development including teaching locals about safety and sound decision-making.”

Dave credits Minnehaha with helping him learn how to be part of a team, which served him well in his engineering career. “MA gave me the experience of being on a team with others and seeing both the wonder in other’s lives and their unique needs.” This came not through math or science classes (which were important), but through band and orchestra with his teachers Harry Opel and Lelia Foote. “We sounded good together—much better than we could alone. When you work with people who have different skills you can create a product that is remarkable that you could not do by yourself.”  

The Way Everybody Lives Does Not Need To Be The Same

Guido Kauls taught him that there is a big world out there, and the way everybody lives (including even their grammar!) does not need to be the same as ours. “I’m a big proponent of people learning another language. It gives insight on why your language is the way it is and helps you to understand another culture and their beliefs.”  

Dave graduated from the University of Minnesota in Aeronautical Engineering, and later obtained a Master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Washington, in addition to an instrument-rated pilot’s license.  While at the U of M, he was offered several jobs at the job fair. Boeing sounded most interesting to him—he liked the final product that would both connect and protect people’s lives—so he joined Boeing’s commercial airplane division.  

Dave worked at Boeing for his entire career. He has many stories involving coordination with people at NASA and similar organizations in other countries as well as various airlines. For example, in Russia he helped Sukhoi Aircraft develop a new safe commercial airplane. As the Chair of their Technical Committee, he worked to make the airplane a reality, and helped the group overcome cultural biases and learn decision making skills by group consensus. 

Dave retired from Boeing in 2008 as the Managing Director of Product Development for all Commercial Airplane Programs. Since retirement, he started a small consulting business focused on aviation and decision making. He has served as Board Chair of Pine Lake Covenant Church and was involved in Stephen Ministry for years. Dave is also on the Board of a para-church non-profit called Mercy Walk which started Pine Lake Christian Academy (PLA) in Kenya. They plant churches and have built a medical facility there, and they also serve Gypsy communities in Romania.  

The Kind of Person Colleagues and Customers Want

Looking back over his life, Dave’s original decision to become a Christian in middle school (during the corn carnival in Cokato!) was the most significant decision he has ever made. “I decided that this is the kind of life I wanted to live.  It allows you to do so many things that are useful and it is the kind of person that colleagues and customers want. My understanding was that it was not all up to me–I needed to plug in and help, and that was enough. God would do the rest.”

Dave’s wife Carol (Booman) also graduated from MA in 1964. They sent their three children to Bellevue Christian School near Seattle because of their experience at Minnehaha. Each of their children has married someone from another culture. “We’re a worldwide family–it really works!”  

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