Harry W. Anderson '49

Founder of Saga Corporation; Art Collector


Harry "Hunk" Anderson was born on October 2, 1922 in Corning, N.Y. He was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army during WWII. Released as a PFC in July of 1946, Anderson attended Hobart College under the GI Bill. After realizing that the stipend for the GI Bill would not adequately cover what he called his “social costs,” Anderson teamed up with classmates Bill Laughlin '49 and William Scandling '49 to supplement their incomes. 

Anderson and partners became commonly known as “The Corporation” around campus for their various money-making ventures. After the closing of the Hobart cafeteria in the spring of 1948, they approached the Colleges' treasurer, Dr. H. Newton Hubbs, and proposed their plan to take over operations of the Hobart cafeteria. Although initially hesitant, Doc Hubbs presented the idea to President Alan Brown, suggesting that it be heard by the Board of Trustees. The board approved of their plan on the condition that they obtain insurance. Knowing that being issued an insurance policy, let alone being able to afford the cost of a policy, would be nearly impossible, the three men sought the help of Hobart Dean, Walter Durfee. Durfee played a crucial role in helping the three men acquire insurance. His guidance and assistance led Anderson and partners to see out a former Hobart graduate who sold insurance in the Geneva area. Max Henry '17, who was also a former Kappa Alpha brother during his days at Hobart, somehow convinced Aetna Insurance Company to issue a policy to the three young entrepreneurs and the doors to the Hobart cafeteria reopened in the fall of 1948.

Anderson, Laughlin and Scandling devised a system by which they sold meal tickets in advance and used the money to cover the current week's expenses. Anderson played the “front man” in the day-to-day operations, spending much of his time ensuring that each student was pleased with the service. After a hectic first year, A.L.S. & Co. secured its second account with William Smith College. At the suggestion of their lawyer, they formed a corporation which became known as Saga.

Their business continued to grow at an exponential rate. In 1968 Saga went public, selling 321,000 shares of common stock. By 1974, Saga was serving over 400 million meals a year, held 587 food service accounts and owned 241 restaurants. In 1986, Saga was sold to the Marriot Corporation.

Through his travels around the world, Anderson became interested in art. After visiting Paris in 1964, Anderson and his wife Mary “Moo” Ransford, decided to begin their own collection. They forged friendships with painters and critics who helped them learn more about their passion. Their daughter, Putter, also became involved in the family venture. After finding that most of the impressionist masterpieces they admired were already taken, the family focused on acquiring important pieces of contemporary art.

After thirty years of collecting, the Anderson Art Collection is generally regarded as one of the largest and best private holdings of 20th Century American art in the United States, with over 1,200 works. Anderson, with his wife and daughter, has donated hundreds of works to many different institutions and museums across the country. In 1996, the Andersons made a landmark gift of 655 pieces to the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, the Fine Arts Museums' department of prints and drawings.

Anderson and wife, Moo, currently reside in Atherton, Calif., where their art collection continues to grow.

Contribution: Founder of Saga Food Corporation, Art Collector

College Activities: Tennis, Phi Phi Delta, Kappa Beta Phi