Martha E. Sodergren Anderson

Honored by:Daughter Elva Anderson Waters and her husband Norm Waters; Jo Ellyn, Robert and Erin Owens; and Scott and Peggy Waters
Brick location:E:5  map

Martha Elizabeth Sodergren Anderson was born to August and Carrie Hauenstein Sodergren on January 28, 1908, on a farm in Wayne Township County of Henry near the town of Olds, Iowa. Martha had a sister, Esther Blanche Sodergren Duncan, born on September 7, 1912, at the same location. Esther died of leukemia on December 1, 1984.

Martha attended her grade and high school years in Olds, Iowa, where she graduated from Olds Consolidated High School in May 1926. She attended Iowa State College from fall quarter 1926 through winter quarter 1929, where she stayed in Margaret Hall. Margaret Hall has been torn down, and the present Home Economics building was extended to the area that previously had been the site of Margaret Hall. Martha majored in home economics and was a member of the group of girls who was known as "The Gang."

The gang's members were Martha Sodergren Anderson, Martha Canby, Cory Osa Young, Cory Giddeon, Esther Bakehouse, Fern White, Alice Whetstone, Soultz (Marion) Hilda Block, Marian Isminger Branson, and Nadine Drayer. Martha then transferred to Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls for spring and summer of 1929 in order to begin her teaching career. Martha taught at Toddville, Stanwood, Crawfordsville, Consolidated Winfield-Mt. Union WACO, and Mt. Pleasant Community Schools.

Martha married Elsworth A. Anderson on December 5, 1932, in Elizabeth, Illinois. To this union was born five children: a daughter, Elva Marie Anderson Waters, on June 1, 1934; a stillborn daughter in 1936; a son, Richard Leroy Anderson, on July 7, 1938; another son, John Robert Anderson, born on March 5, 1940 (and died on May 12 1981); a stillborn son in 1945. J. Robert Anderson worked in the business office at Iowa State University while his wife Clara was attending and graduating from Iowa State University. Martha taught home economics, second grade, and special education. She graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in 1963. Later, she continued her education at the University of Iowa, working on a master's degree.

Martha had six grandchildren: John M. Tammie; Mark and Paul Anderson; and Jo Ellyn Waters Owens, a graduate of Iowa State University in accounting in 1981; a grandson-in-law, Robert D. Owens, graduated from Iowa State University in construction engineering in May 1984; and a grandson, Scott Richard Waters, who attended Iowa State University for three years.

Jo Ellyn, Robert and Erin Owens, Scott Waters, and daughter Elva Anderson Waters are the ones responsible for the brick with Martha E. Sodergren Anderson's name and donation to the "Carrie Chapman Catt Foundation."

Martha's most proud moment was when she had three grandchildren go to Iowa State University and graduate. Martha found it necessary to graduate from another college, but her true love was always ISU, and if she were alive today (she died from pancreatic cancer on Sept. 7 1985, her sister's birthday), she would be overwhelmed with joy at being one of more than 2,500 women honored in the Plaza of Heroines, honoring the renovation of "Old Botany" on the Iowa State University campus.

-By Elva Anderson Waters