The U.S. sugarbeet industry lost a true champion last summer with the passing of Craig Anderson. The longtime Colorado grower and former president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association passed away on July 19 at the age of 87.
The following tribute to Craig was delivered by Alan Welp, a fellow Coloradoan and ASGA’s immediate past president, at the 2010 International Sweetener Symposium held in early August in Vail, Colo.
It’s an wonderful tribute to an outstanding individual. I had the opportunity to become well acquainted with Craig during visits to his farm near Longmont, as well as at ASGA meetings and on other occasions. He was an exceptionally gracious person. As Alan says, he had a huge heart and was a great friend to everyone. A wonderful man. — Don Lilleboe
Craig's grandfather came to Weld County in 1902 and raised one of the first beet crops in the state for the new Great Western sugarbeet factory in Longmont. Craig’s father raised beets his entire life, and Craig spent most of his youth in sugarbeet fields. He went to Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) to study veterinary medicine, but left school when he was called to report to duty during WWII. Because he was from a farm, he received an honorable discharge and returned home to farm because of the need for food for the troops. So he never fulfilled his goal of becoming a veterinarian — for which the Colorado beet industry is forever grateful.
He went on the local beet board in the mid-’60s, and a few years later went to the board of the Mountain States Growers of Colorado and Kansas. He helped guide the growers through the tumultuous bankruptcy of the Hunt brothers and the Great Western Sugar Company in 1984 and the loss of the crop in 1985. Craig was instrumental in our recovery by putting the beet grower cooperative and the re-organized Colorado Sugarbeet Growers Association together, and he is one of the reasons that Colorado grows sugar today.
He became a board member of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association in 1986, and served on the International Affairs, Public Relations and Legislative committees. He was elected vice president of the ASGA in 1992 and became president in 1994. He always said — with a huge, beaming smile — that some of the greatest moments of his life happened when he was presenting testimony on the 1995 farm bill; debating, arguing and protecting our industry
during the Uruguay round of GATT talks; visiting New York City for the first time when he gave a speech at the Sugar Club; and traveling around the world and the country as a respected spokesman for sugarbeet growers and the U.S. sugar industry. He always said, “No matter what we face, we’ll get the job done.”
He considered all of this to be a distinct honor and privilege. Craig’s knowledge of our industry was unmatched, and he would “talk sugar” with anyone who would listen. Members of Congress knew him by name, and for many, he was the face of the sugar industry.
Craig was a mentor, a good listener, and he had a huge heart. He considered his many opportunities to be a symbol of the trust and dedication that growers had placed in him. He was not just a great role model; he was a great friend to everyone. He was always encouraging, positive and willing to help educate and train new leaders, as he did with me when I became a grower director on the ASGA board. When I became president of the ASGA in 2008, I was proud to continue the tradition that Craig was such a large part of.
Craig was completely devoted to his wife, Bonnie, and their children and grandchildren. He was one of the greatest spokesmen that this industry has had over the years, and he will be sorely missed.
Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower