Andrist, Ralph K. 1914-2004

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ANDRIST, Ralph K. 1914-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born January 11, 1914, in Crookston, MN; died September 19, 2004, in Lynnwood, WA. Editor and author. Andrist is best remembered as an author of books on the history of the American West, including his bestselling The Long Death: The Last Days of the Plains Indians (1964). Graduating from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree in 1937, he initially worked odd jobs, such as construction and grave digging, because of the hard economic times during the Great Depression; during World War II, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and earned a Bronze Star. After the war, Andrist finally found work in his chosen profession, becoming a news editor for radio station WCCO in Minneapolis. He wrote radio scripts, too, including an award-winning documentary he collaborated on with Ralph Backlund titled Neither Free nor Equal, and in 1948 he won the prestigious Peabody Award for his series on juvenile delinquency, "As the Twig Is Bent." After this, accomplishment, Andrist worked in various editing and publicity posts, including as a garden editor for Better Homes and Gardens and as associate director of the Episcopal Church Foundation in New York City during the 1950s. During the early 1960s, Andrist tried his hand at freelance writing, publishing his first history works, including The California Gold Rush (1961) and Heroes of Polar Exploration (1962) for American Heritage Press. Andrist joined American Heritage's staff as a book editor from 1964 to 1970, later returning to the publisher after another freelancing stint to become the senior editor of the Franklin Library from 1973 to 1979. After his great success with the Western history book The Long Death, the majority of Andrist's work would be with American Heritage, with the most successful being To the Pacific with Lewis and Clark (1967), which earned him the Golden Spur Award for best Western nonfiction book for juveniles from the Western Writers of America.



New York Times, September 24, 2004, p. A25.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), September 27, 2004, p. B4.