Family members said he died at about noon at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd. He had been fighting colon cancer and had been hospitalized for about a week.
The Republican was governor from September 1951 through 1954. He succeeded Gov. Luther W. Youngdahl when the governor resigned to become a federal judge.
Gov. Arne Carlson ordered all state flags to be flown at half-staff beginning immediately and continuing until the day Anderson is buried. The House of Representatives observed a moment of silence for the man former governors and political friends recalled as a caring gentleman.
"He did an outstanding job as governor," former Gov. Harold Stassen said. "He came in kind of unexpectedly, but he stepped in and carried on in a way that had the general approval of the people."
Anderson won election in 1952, defeating DFLer Orville Freeman, who unseated him two years later.
"I remember him as a gentleman," Freeman said. "I have warm recollections of him as a man and a governor."
In 1938, Anderson was elected lieutenant governor under Stassen, who was 31. The two formed the youngest ticket in state history.
Anderson was born in Brainerd, graduated from Brainerd High School and attended the University of Minnesota. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1938. He was re-elected in 1940, 1944, 1946, 1948 and 1950. He holds the record for years served as lieutenant governor.
After serving as governor, Anderson went on to become mayor of Brainerd where Sen. Don Samuelson, a DFLer from the city, got to know him.
Although the two came from different parties, they spoke often about policy and never engaged in partisan bickering.
"In general, I don't think he played that game," Samuelson said. "He really was concerned about good government."
Samuelson also knew many lawmakers who worked with him.
"He was extremely well-respected by the Legislature," he said. "He was not confrontational. He was not there to pick a political fight with anybody. He was just there to get the job done."
After he left office, Anderson returned to the Service News Company, a magazine distributor, which he sold in 1960 and then worked in real estate.
Carlson said Anderson was a man of "unquestionable integrity" whose devotion to Minnesotans was unparalleled.
He "truly was a public servant this state can be proud of," Carlson said.
Former Gov. Wendell Anderson echoed the sentiment. Wendell Anderson served in the Legislature with many lawmakers who had served under the late governor.
"He was by far their favorite governor," Wendell Anderson said. "He was tremendously effective in a quiet way. He was not eloquent, but effective."
Anderson is survived by his wife, Lillian; daughter Patricia Akre and her husband, Russell Akre of San Francisco; daughter Janet Crawford and her husband, Michael Crawford of Reno, Nev.; son Clyde Anderson and his wife, Sherry; two grandchildren; a brother and two sisters.