UPDATE: Tributes pour in upon the death of Frank Anderson, Marion County’s first Black sheriff

Frank Anderson (Photo courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

Frank J. Anderson, a former U.S. marshal and the first Black law enforcement officer elected Marion County sheriff, died at his home early Saturday morning.

The sheriff’s office reported Anderson’s death on its Facebook page and offered its condolences.

“He was so important to our community,” Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestall said in the post. “Over the last 60 years, his direction and example in law enforcement—both at the federal and local levels—has positively influenced and affected the lives of many, many people. It certainly has mine. He will be truly missed.”

Anderson, a Democrat, served two terms as Marion County sheriff from 2003 to 2011. He also was U.S. marshal for the Southern District of Indiana from 1977 to 1981 and 1994 to 2001.

As U.S. marshal, Anderson led the federal witness protection program, brought a peaceful end to the 92-day standoff at the Indianapolis Baptist Temple and oversaw the court-ordered execution of the Oklahoma City bomber.

Tributes to Anderson from public officials and colleagues poured in across social media.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett called Anderson a trailblazer and force for good in Indianapolis.

“He sought to unite residents to promote safety throughout the community,” Hogsett said on Twitter. “We should all aspire to his example of lifelong service.”

U.S. Rep. André Carson tweeted: “We will never forget his amazing life, and we’ll carry on his efforts to keep all Hoosiers safe.”

The Marion County Democratic Party issued a statement, calling Anderson a “truly historic figure.”

“He broke down barriers, blazed trails, and set an example for us all to follow,” the statement said.  “Frank Anderson was a committed public servant of the highest integrity and throughout his life he demonstrated that every day.”

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Anderson was a “trailblazing public servant who dedicated his life to making Indianapolis a better, safer community for all.”

Anderson grew up in Indianapolis and graduated in 1956 from Shortridge High School, where he was a state wrestling champion and was inducted into the wrestling hall of fame. He started his law enforcement career in 1961 when he joined the Marion County Sheriff’s Office after a three-year stint in the U.S. Navy.

Anderson is survived by his wife Mercedes; his children, Henry and Franché; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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One thought on “UPDATE: Tributes pour in upon the death of Frank Anderson, Marion County’s first Black sheriff

  1. Sheriff Anderson challenged us to recognize the difference between “lip service” and “hip service”: talk versus action. His life was dedicated to tangible action on behalf of the people he served. Let’s hope his example will inspire future Indianapolis leaders.

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