One of our many outstanding graduates of St. Louis Park High School was a championship golfer, beauty queen, and all-around leader in her community and school: Darlene Anderson.
The student newspaper the Echo is full of reports of Darlene’s accomplishments.
Darlene started playing golf in 1954 at the age of 12. She wasn’t altogether taken with the sport at first, but by age 14 she won her first Minneapolis Park Board Golf Tournament. At the same time she was excelling at bowling, pitching in a softball team, taking guitar lessons, and participating in Girl Scouts.
As a sophomore (1957-58) Darlene served as Class President and was a member of the Girl Scouts, Blue Tri, Glee Club, and Parkettes. She was also a performer in the big variety show put on by the Lions Club.
As a junior (1958-59) she was also on the Student Council and participated in the Glee Club, Blue Tri, and Parkettes. That year she was chosen as a Lakerette, a sub-set of the Parkettes who cheered for the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team. She was also a performer in the big variety show put on by the Lions Club. She was a member of fthe Governor’s Youth Advisory committee, headed by Judge Theodore Knudson, as well as the Teen-Age Code Committee
In the summer of 1959 she won three local golf championships: The Columbia Women’s Invitational, the Minnesota Girls Junior Golf Title, and Minnesota Publinks. Jack Goodwin of the Minneapolis Star called her the “newest star in Minnesota Golf.” By then she had already been the Ladies champion at Meadowbrook Golf Course for three years. In an interview in the Echo, she expressed an ambition to produce TV news.
A very long article about Darlene in the Dispatch, July 23, 1959, starts out:
The essence of youth, a typical All American girl and a vibrating personality, mixed in with bounding energy, contagious enthusiasm nd a sunny smile could all be jumbled together to begin the description of St. Louis Park’s own Darlene Anderson.
During her senior year (1959-60) she was a member of the Glee Club, a Parkette, a homecoming attendant, Student Council treasurer, star of the Senior Class play “Lily, the Felon’s Daughter,” and on the National Honor Society. Under her photo in the yearbook was written:
An attractive and clever lass,
Well-liked throughout her class…
Her many talents were shown in Parkettes, Glee Club, and on the golf links…
In the spring of 1960 she was chosen Orchid Queen of the Tropical Canteen – for the third (or possibly fourth) time! Queens were chosen by a vote to narrow the field to a certain number, and the winner’s name was chosen out of a hat.
There was one report that she had appeared on TV, singing and playing the guitar.
Darlene graduated from Park in 1960. She spent her first year of college at Macalester, where she served as a homecoming attendant.
On May 20, 1961, Darlene was chosen as Miss St. Louis Park in a ceremony at the High School auditorium. Her tenure was short, however – in July she competed for Queen of the Lakes at the Minneapolis Aquatennial and was chosen as Princess. The Dispatch reported that she gave up the chance to defend her Minnesota public golf links crown to compete in the contest. Soon after the Aquatennial was over she competed in the American Women’s Open at Hiawatha Golf Club in Minneapolis – after her first official appearance as Aqua Princess at the SLP Chamber of Commerce she raced off for the second round of tournament play. She crowned her friend Deanna Kunzelman to replace her as Miss St. Louis Park.
Darlene spent her sophomore year (1961-62) at the University of Minnesota. In June 1962 she won the Midwest Collegiate Women’s Golf Championship.
In 1964 she won the Women’s State Match Play Championship and the Interlachen Grand Championship of Minnesota Women’s Golf.
She earned a BA and MS in music from the University of Minnesota. After that she worked for the National Golf Foundation of Chicago as a teaching consultant, traveling throughout the U.S. She married Keith Ironside and taught music in California while husband finished internship and residency. In 1970 she and her husband lived in Frankfurt, Germany, where he worked in a military hospital for the Air Force.
In October 2008 Darlene was inducted into the Minnesota PGA/Minnesota Golf Association Hall of Fame. Her plaque reads:
Between 1954 and 1971, Darlene Anderson was the only winner of all four Women Amateur tournaments offered and was considered by many the Grand Champion of Minnesota Women’s Golf during this era.
In the early 1960s, Anderson’s play was unsurpassed. She won the 1963 MWGA Stroke Play and the MWGA Match Play Championships, and followed with another MWGA Amateur in 1964. In the run up to that periood of sustained dominance, Anderson captured three MWPGA Public Links titles, in 1959, 1960 and 1962. Anderson was also runner-up in the MWGA Match Play twice and MWPGA Public Links once.
Anderson, a retired architect, now resides in Colorado and still loves the game of golf, but spends most of her time now enjoying her pets, riding her bike, walks and music.
Darlene lived at 3920 Yosemite Ave. in St. Louis Park.