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'A huge loss for all of us': Influential community leader, Cyndi Anderson, passes away

Cyndi, at a DFL fundraiser in the fall of 2014. She was active with the local DFL, and League of Women Voters, for decades. She also got into the political realm herself at times, serving on the school board and planning commission, among other civic involvements. Submitted photo1 / 4
Cyndi, speaking during St. Mary's clinic groundbreaking ceremonies in June 2010. Cyndi was a longtime leader in local health care. Tribune File Photo2 / 4
Cyndi Anderson, pictured here in a photo from this past spring, will be well remembered as a compassionate and ambitious advocate for people and animals in need. The list of Detroit Lakes area nonprofits, boards, civic groups and community projects she's been a part of is extensive. Submitted photo3 / 4
One of Cyndi's most recent efforts was to help get MANNA Food Co-op off the ground. She is pictured second from right. Tribune File Photo4 / 4

The Detroit Lakes community has lost an active and influential leader with the passing of Cyndi Anderson.

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, less than one week after a large crowd of Anderson's friends, family and other supporters packed the Holmes Ballroom at a benefit in her honor, the beloved community advocate succumbed to liver and bile duct cancer at the age of 59. She had been fighting the disease for more than two years.

Anderson was widely known and admired for her generous spirit, 'can-do' attitude and passionate dedication to civic and charitable causes. Since moving to Detroit Lakes 29 years ago, she had worked tirelessly in support of dozens of local service organizations and community projects.

"People have been helped by Cyndi even if they do not know her name," said her longtime friend, Sharon Josephson, in a written statement to the Tribune. "If you were a crime victim, if you were a young child who received a book in the mail, if you needed a safe place to be, if you needed a psychologist in rural Minnesota, if you wanted to preserve history, if you wanted Detroit Lakes to prosper and grow, if you wanted to make life better on White Earth, if you love animals of all kinds, if you needed a thriving hospital and quality healthcare, if you wanted good government with caring and informed elected officials, Cyndi helped you."

Recalling her friend as a rare "practical dreamer" who could both come up with big ideas and turn those ideas into reality, Josephson described Anderson as "generous and compassionate."

A watchdog for those in need—particularly women, children and animals—Anderson was a key individual behind the development of the Becker County Children's Initiative, the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center and the Humane Society of the Lakes.

She also had a passion for the health and well-being of the community, and was an active leader in local health care and environmental stewardship. She served as Chair of the Essentia Health St. Mary's Foundation, was a founding member of Natural Innovations, helped get the MANNA Food Co-op off the ground, and was an instrumental figure at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.

Over the years, Anderson held leadership positions with a wide variety of groups in town, including the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Rotary, Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, and community foundation.

Also politically active, she was a longtime member of the Becker County DFL and the Detroit Lakes Area League of Women Voters. She served on the local planning commission and school board, and, at the state level, was on the Minnesota Hospital Association Trustee Council and the Minnesota Council for Quality Evaluators.

She earned many awards and recognitions for her efforts over the years, though accolades were never her motivation or intention.

Beth Pridday, a longtime friend of Anderson's and a well-known community advocate herself, said the contributions Anderson has made to the Detroit Lakes area are too numerous to even try to list.

"Both professionally, through her work at Mosaic Consulting, and personally, all the contributions she's made with her time, talents, donations, things she's attended... she touched every aspect of the community," Pridday said. "She had a big heart for people and animals who were struggling and perhaps needed a hand up—that was her business, personally and professionally. She's going to be missed."

Anderson was the CEO of Mosaic Consulting, Inc., for which she helped a number of local organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. "The hole that has been left in this community, I don't think it can be underestimated. There were so many things she touched, so many projects she worked on, so many people she influenced, that I can hardly stand to think about it. It's heartbreaking," said Terry Kalil.

Kalil, who has been active with a variety of Detroit Lakes organizations and is the current president of Minnesota's League of Women Voters, said she wouldn't be where she is today without Anderson—and she knows plenty of other people who could say the same.

"She was a mentor, confidante, teacher—someone who could help define what the real issue is and help see the path forward when tough decisions had to be made," Kalil said. "It's a huge loss for all of us, but here's what I realized at the benefit last week: I was a greeter at the door, and...I saw so many people, and I thought, 'Wow, she touched so many lives.' There were so many people I had never seen before, and so many of them had children, and so many were from White Earth. I strongly believe her legacy is in each one of us. I know it's in me."

Those sentiments were echoed by Jim Sinclair, current Chair of the Essentia Health St. Mary's Foundation and friend of Anderson's.

"She took her passion and used it to mentor many of us. That passion now lives on in those of us she mentored," he said. "Cyndi Anderson was my friend. But more importantly, she was a friend of our entire community. She worked and volunteered tirelessly to assist those in need. Her community spirit was and will forever be second to none. Cyndi was different than most because she let her love, compassion and caring emotions fuel her to take action to make a difference. She was able to accomplish things others only pondered."

Jan Logan, who recently retired as the executive director of Lakes Crisis and Resource Center after 12 years in the role, counts herself among the many people Anderson mentored. She met Anderson on her second day at the center, and continued to call her for input and advice right up until her retirement.

"She was amazing in terms of her humility and her knowledge," Logan said of Anderson. "The woman was brilliant. She was an individual that was a true leader and, more importantly, an amazing human being. She was so selfless and always thought of other people first. She was always working on behalf of those who had nothing. She's an individual that's irreplaceable. She'll be dearly, dearly missed."

David-Donehower Funeral and Cremation Service of Detroit Lakes is handling funeral arrangements. For information, visit daviddonehower.com.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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