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Leo E. Anderson; Latvian Consul, GOP Leader

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Leo E. Anderson, former grandmaster of Masons for California and Hawaii, chairman of the California Republican Central Committee, and for 53 years Los Angeles’ consul from Latvia, has died. He was 91.

Anderson, of Pasadena, died Oct. 20.

A 33rd degree Mason, the top rank in the religious and philanthropic organization, Anderson served as grandmaster of Masons for the two states in 1958.

Also active in the Shriners, he served as potentate of Al Malaikah Temple in 1968 and was honored as Shriner of the Year. He chaired the board of the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children in Los Angeles in 1973 and 1974, and was a past master of Hollywood Lodge and active in York Rite and Scottish Rite.

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Anderson chaired the Los Angeles County Republican Central Committee from 1936 to 1940 and headed the California Republican Central Committee from 1946 to 1948.

A lawyer, he was former managing partner of the Los Angeles firm of Meserve, Mumper & Hughes, where he practiced law from 1927 until his retirement in 1989.

In 1931 and 1932, Anderson was president of the Barristers, the youths of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. The organization still quotes his advice: “Do not accept trade for fees--especially in divorce cases.”

His law firm offered him the unsung, unsalaried job of handling problems of Latvians in Los Angeles in 1932, and Anderson wore the consul mantle until his retirement in 1989, although he never went to Latvia and did not speak the language.

For several years, he found himself stamping visas for Latvians visiting Los Angeles (primarily merchant seamen), helping Southern Californians who planned to visit Latvia and assisting importers and exporters--all in addition to his duties as a lawyer. After Latvia was taken over by the former Soviet Union during World War II, the consul post became largely ceremonial, symbolic and educational.

Anderson also served as president of the Economic Round Table, as a trustee of the Los Angeles Philanthropic Foundation and as president of the board of the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Assn. He was active on several other boards of companies and social clubs.

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Born in Gettysburg, S.D., on Feb. 20, 1902, Anderson moved to California with his family when he was a toddler. He was educated at the University of Redlands, where he lettered in four sports and later served as a trustee, and he earned his law degree at USC, where he headed the Trojan Club.

Survivors include his son, David of Santa Barbara; stepson, Bruce Murray of Clovis, and one granddaughter.

Memorial services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather chapel at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale.

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