Obituary of Gerald Anderson, 90
Oct. 30, 1932 – Aug. 1, 2023
– With profound sadness and enduring affection, the Anderson family grieves the loss of their beloved elder, their one and only head coach, Gerald (Jerry) Rollin Anderson Sr. Over an accomplished life of 90 years, Jerry answered to many titles. He was a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, as well as a domestic historian, dry-witted raconteur, and proud Californian. But across the board, he was the consummate coach, who personified the same traits in everyday life that he practiced throughout his career: Patient enthusiasm, unwavering devotion, steady discipline, principled authority, and generous respect for others.
Born October 30, 1932, in Ventura, Jerry Anderson was the middle son of three boys. George, Gerald, and Geoff were raised in Burbank by their parents, Hilda and Henry Anderson. Like many in the Silent Generation, their lives were defined by both adversity and adventure. He remembered the deprivations of the Great Depression and the sound of air raid sirens during World War II, when they had to draw the blinds in compliance with wartime blackout rules. Jerry shared whimsical stories about growing up in old Los Angeles, during the golden age of Hollywood. He rode the red and yellow streetcars with his older brother, George, back when Los Angeles had the world’s largest trolley system. He watched college football games at the newly-constructed L.A. Coliseum, now celebrating its centennial. He once won a sports trivia contest on a local radio show and went on-air with Mel Blanc. He used to laugh when his mother scolded his grandfather Hackley for mowing the lawn in his floppy, backwards toupee. Jerry attended Burbank High School (where he was student body president and All-CIF in basketball) and graduated in 1950 alongside other gifted athletes, not to mention artists, actors, and performers.
Strikingly handsome and tall, Jerry’s athletic talent soon took him out of Los Angeles County to points north. He played basketball for Cal, his father’s alma mater. At Berkeley, Jerry patched together various jobs to pay for college (including delivering The Daily Cal with his freshman teammates and serving food at the dining halls). Jerry ultimately found his professional calling when he became a teacher and coach, training under his mentor and first boss, Pete Newell. It was also at Berkeley, while teaching swim lessons, where Jerry met and soon married a fellow athlete, Olympic synchronized swimmer, Jacqueline Brown. After he graduated from Berkeley in 1954 with a Bachelors in physical education, Jerry completed an M.Ed. from California State University, Sacramento. There, the couple put down shared professional and personal roots, teaching and coaching for the better part of 50 years. Jerry taught physical education at Sacramento City College and coached the men’s basketball team for over 30 years, periodically coaching swimming and other sports. Jerry and Jacquie also ran a swim school out of their backyard pool for over three decades. Both a family business and a labor of love, the Anderson swim school successfully taught hundreds of children and adults how to swim, and safely enjoy the water.
The Anderson swim school was also staffed with four notable apprentices, aka their children: Jerry Jr., Kirk, Kimberly, and Michael. The brood was raised in a busy household, brimming with love, wry humor, and a vast cache of medals in competitive swimming and basketball. Jerry Sr. spent some of his discretionary time relaxing in front of ESPN Sports Center– he designated it “research” – but poured the bulk of his available energy into playing ball games, cards and board games, doing yard work, and attempting to train their various rescue dogs, who mostly spurned his commands and took themselves for unauthorized walkabouts in the neighborhood. Jerry could get his kids home for dinner with a loud whistle, however, from blocks away. Over the decades, the family also hosted and nurtured visiting relatives, aging grandparents, foreign exchange students, and a rotating roster of chlorinated student-athletes.
Life tested Jerry’s composure, at times. He was never a fan of paying the bills, according to family lore; the looming ledger sometimes led to grumpiness. Through careful budgeting, however, they were able to buy vacation properties that multiple generations of family members have come together to enjoy over the years. For the most part, the hardships that challenged Jerry’s composure caused him to become even more tolerant, thoughtful, and open-minded. After his retirement, Jerry and Jacquie relocated to the Central Coast to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. Jerry spent more time watching sports on television in his later years, but only when he wasn’t playing chauffeur to his grandchildren. Eventually, Jerry and Jacquie settled in Templeton, trading in their backyard pool for sweeping views of rolling hills and vineyards.
Jerry died of natural causes in his Templeton home on Aug.1, 2023, nine days shy of his 66th wedding anniversary. Jerry is survived by his devoted wife, Jacqueline, all of his four children, 12 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, and their rescue dog, Leia. Jerry Anderson will be gravely missed. But his memory and lasting legacy will never be forgotten.
Published by San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Sep. 16, 2023.
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