Robert Homer Anderson, Jr., was born in Strasburg, Virginia. He attended E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Augusta Military Academy, Fort Defiance, Virginia, before entering Roanoke College. He was involved in many campus activities including four years of football and was elected president of his freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes as well as president of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. Anderson majored in Political Science and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942.
After graduation from Roanoke, Anderson entered the U.S. Navy where on June 6, 1944, his leadership qualities became quite evident. He was a Navy lieutenant junior grade and skipper of a 36-foot landing craft vehicle as well as being in charge over a number of other boats. His craft vehicle was loaded with twenty-eight troops taking part in the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. Ernest Hemingway, who was a war correspondent at the time, was in the craft with him. Hemingway wrote an article called "Voyage to Victory," published in Collier's magazine on June 22, 1944, in which he described Anderson as a hero. Hemingway was so impressed by Anderson's brave actions that he later recommended him for the Navy Cross. He would never have contact with the famous author again. Fifty years later, Anderson and his wife, Betty, returned to Normandy and Omaha Beach to pay their respects to those who fought and lost their lives there.
With his military duties completed, Anderson continued his education and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1950. He continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he majored in theology and church history. His education did not stop there. Anderson entered the University of Virginia School of Law where he received his juris doctorate degree in 1957.
Law would be Anderson's vocation. After working for the Norfolk City Attorney's office and the Commonwealth's Attorney's office, he became a partner in the Norfolk, Virginia, law firm of Goldblatt, Lipkin, Cohen and Anderson in 1969 and retired from there in 1990. He served on the Board of Governors for the Virginia State Bar and was a member of the Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Anderson's family has a long legacy at Roanoke College. His father, R. Homer Anderson, D.D., graduated in 1910 and was a charter member of the Athletic Hall of Fame and a Trustee Emeritus. He served as Superintendent of the Lutheran Synod of Virginia for many years. His brother, W. Edward Anderson, M.D., graduated in 1950. An uncle and many cousins also graduated from Roanoke College.
Anderson is a member of First Lutheran Church in Norfolk where he served on the Church Council, taught Sunday school and has served as a congregational ambassador for Roanoke College. He is a member of the Honor Guard and holds the distinction of being the oldest active member of the Hampton Roads Alumni Chapter. He and his wife, Betty, live in Norfolk, Virginia. They have two children, Robert H. Anderson, III, an attorney in Richmond, Virginia, and E. Jane Anderson, an attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota.