Henry Hill Anderson Jr. was born in Manhattan on June 2, 1921, the eldest of three boys of Henry Sr. and Helen Jennings (James) Anderson. His parents moved the family from a small Long Island estate in Roslyn to Oyster Bay when the boys were young.
Henry Sr. was a partner in the family’s New York law firm, Anderson, Howland and Murray. Clients included Harold S. Vanderbilt, a railroad executive, champion yachtsman and great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Mr. Anderson’s great-grandfather Henry B. Anderson, in addition to advising Cornelius, was counsel for the City of New York.
Much of the family’s wealth came from another great-grandfather, Oliver Burr Jennings, who was one of six initial stockholders in the Standard Oil Company, founded by John D. Rockefeller. (It was that branch of the family tree that reached back to Aaron Burr, the country’s third vice president and the slayer, in a duel, of Alexander Hamilton.)
Henry Jr., who was known as Harry, emulated his father’s work ethic.
“Harry’s card was to have an extraordinarily strict father,” Mr. Vaughn, his biographer, said. “One reacts to this accident of birth several ways. One is to rebel and run away. Or, when he says, ‘Jump,’ jump as high as you can. Harry said, ‘I’ll show him how darn high I can jump.’”
At Yale, Mr. Anderson sailed as a member of the university team, organized by the student-run Yale Corinthian Yacht Club in Branford, Conn., where his grandfather had been commodore. (Today, the team is considered one of the best collegiate programs in the country, and Mr. Anderson remained devoted to it, donating waterside property for its use in Branford.)
His Yale class of 1943 graduated early, in December 1942, because of World War II, and he joined the Army, serving as a field artillery officer in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army and receiving a Bronze Star.