Robert Bernerd Anderson was born in Burleson, Texas, on 4 June 1910. He was a high school teacher prior to entering the University of Texas Law School, from which he graduated in 1932. He thereafter engaged in political, governmental, law, and business activities in the state of Texas. During World War II, he was an adviser to the Secretary of War.
In February 1953, Anderson was named President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Secretary of the Navy. During his time as secretary, he ended the last formal vestiges of racial segregation in the Navy and advocated for force levels and technological advances necessary to maintain a flexible defense strategy. In May 1954, Anderson left the Navy post to become Deputy Secretary of Defense. From 1957 to 1961, he served as Eisenhower's Secretary of the Treasury. After leaving office, he was active in business, investing, and banking, and during the 1960s, carried out diplomatic missions on behalf of President Lyndon Johnson. Anderson died in New York City on 14 August 1989.