Robert B. Anderson, who was secretary of the Treasury under President Dwight D. Eisenhower but saw his later career clouded by an income tax conviction, has died at the age of 79.
Anderson, a native Texan who had lived in Manhattan in recent years, died Monday at New York Hospital. He had entered the hospital July 25 suffering from cancer of the esophagus and died of complications after surgery, said his son, Gerald L. Anderson.
As Treasury secretary from 1957 to 1961, Anderson was known for being conservative and putting a high priority on preserving the value of the dollar rather than cutting taxes or paying for additional outlays. It was on his recommendation that Eisenhower decided that the projected surplus for fiscal 1961 should be used to pay off some of the national debt rather than cutting taxes.
After leaving government, Anderson was a limited partner in the New York-based investment banking firm of Loeb, Rhoades & Co. from 1961 to 1973.
He held other directorships and posts in business and finance and served as an economic adviser to the sultan of Oman and as a lobbyist and consultant for the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.
Anderson pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to income tax evasion in 1983 and 1984 and to operating an illegal offshore bank. In 1987, he was sentenced to a month in prison and five months' house arrest.
He served his prison term in August, 1987, and completed his house arrest in January, 1988, authorities said.
In January, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court disbarred Anderson, saying the illegal banking had been unconscionable.
In sending Anderson to prison, Judge Edmund L. Palmieri also sentenced him to five years' probation and directed him to make restitution to victims of the bank operation who lost money on his advice. The judge said he was aware that Anderson had been hospitalized for alcoholism 10 times since 1981 and ordered him to enter a treatment program.
Originally a Democrat, Anderson switched parties by 1956 and remained a Republican. As secretary of the Navy in 1953-54, and deputy secretary of defense in 1954-55, he was known as a quiet and efficient administrator.
Earlier, Anderson had held several posts in Texas government.
In addition to his son Gerald, Anderson is survived by another son, three grandchildren and two sisters. His wife, the former Ollie Mae Rawlings, died in 1987.