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David Outram Anderson (1917–1994)

by Raymond Nobbs

This article was published:

David Outram Anderson (1917–1994), businessman, was born on 2 November 1917 at Burwood, Sydney, second son and third child of New South Wales-born parents Elias Outram Anderson, company manager, and his wife Gertrude, née Dunlop. Educated at Trinity Grammar School, David left school at fifteen and joined Edwards Dunlop and Co. Ltd, a paper products company founded by his grandfather in 1869.

On 16 October 1939 Anderson married Nancy Adair Jackson (d. 1987) at the Congregational Church, Killara. When World War II had broken out in September, he had enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in November 1940. Although he transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in September 1941, he remained with his CMF unit, the 55th Battalion (later combined with the 53rd Battalion). Between May 1942 and March 1943 he served in Papua and between December 1944 and June 1945 on Bougainville. Back in Australia, he transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 19 October 1945 as a captain (from 1942). He lived at Burwood before building the family home at Killara.

Appointed to the board of Edwards Dunlop in 1949, Anderson was joint managing director (1959–76) and deputy chairman (1976–83), and became chairman in 1983, a position he held until his retirement in 1988. He served on many other boards, including Australian Gas Light Co. (1972–85, chairman 1974–85), Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP) (1970–90, chairman 1982–90), Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd (1978–88), G. E. Crane Holdings Ltd (1971–84), and the National Australia Bank Ltd (1976–84).

The AMP Society was the largest of the companies on the boards of which Anderson sat, with assets in 1988 in excess of $30 billion. When he joined the board in 1971, he reflected on his personal connection with the society, which had been ‘ingrained in my nature’ by his father, who considered it an example of business working in such a way as to be important and valuable to the community. In addressing its 138th annual meeting he pointed out that the society’s founders had not established the company as a charity, but as a means through which individuals could help themselves by coming together. ‘It has been the continuing task of the Society’s Board and management,’ he said, ‘to develop, elaborate and defend that means, with the interests both of our members and of the nation at heart’ (AMPNews 1987, 13). During his years as chairman he steered the organisation through a period of change and growth. AMP increased its range of products and services, and also took the first steps to increase its international presence by merging with London Life Association Ltd and taking over London-based Pearl Assurance. The company moved into banking in 1985 with the establishment of the Chase AMP Bank Ltd, of which he was chairman (1985–90). He retired from the AMP board on 31 January 1990.

Inspired by his mother’s example, Anderson engaged in community and philanthropic activities. He was active in a number of civic organisations: a member of the national appeal committee of the Australian Tax Research Foundation, a trustee of the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, chairman of the Burnside Presbyterian Homes for Children, council member of the St Andrew’s Home for Boys, and chairman of the Sydney Legacy citizens’ appeal committee. 

Anderson’s services to commerce and secondary industry were acknowledged in 1987 when he was appointed AO. His recreations included golf, swimming, sailing, music, and gardening. He belonged to several clubs: Australian (Sydney), Melbourne, Avondale Golf, and Elanora Country. Survived by two of his three sons, he died on 18 June 1994 at North Turramurra and was cremated.

Research edited by Karen Fox

Select Bibliography

  • Amicus. ‘… And Welcome to Mr David Anderson.’  21, no. 2 (June 1982): 5
  • Amicus. ‘Some Changes in our Boardroom.’ 10, no. 1 (1971): 17
  • AMPNews. ‘Chairman Highlights Key Issues,’ no. 43 (June/July 1987): 13
  • Anderson, Hugh. Interview by the author, 29 October 2014
  • National Archives of Australia. B883, NX76325

Additional Resources

Citation details

Raymond Nobbs, 'Anderson, David Outram (1917–1994)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2018, accessed online 14 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19, (ANU Press), 2021

View the front pages for Volume 19

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