For more than 30 years, Gerald J. "Chic" Anderson was one of the pioneers clearing the way for athletic excellence during the booming growth period for Palatine Township District 211. And before he retired in 1988, Anderson had built a solid foundation at Palatine High School that still thrives today.
Anderson, who died Wednesday at 84 after a 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease, was a true champion of high school sports, say family and friends, and his positive attitude and tireless support for high school athletes were recognized throughout the state and by national organizations.
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Born Dec. 10, 1928 in Cambridge, Ill., he is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Lou, and his 7 children: Mark, Tammy Fitzgerald, Cindy Ellis, Gordy, Joe, John and Stan, and 13 grandchildren.
"Anyone who met him was touched by him," said daughter Cindy Ellis. "His mantra was 'attitude is everything.' He never complained, never uttered a bad word."
Those who knew him best say he never sought attention and preferred the spotlight shine on the students, Palatine High School honored him in 1988 by naming its football/soccer complex Chic Anderson Stadium.
"He was such a man of integrity and honesty and a promoter of youth sports through the high school level,"
said Bob Frisk, who spent 50 years writing about high school sports for the Daily Herald, said Anderson's positive spirit was remarkable.
"Nobody could say a bad word about Chic," Frisk said. "He was a true giant and without question one of the nicest guys I've ever known."
Anderson graduated from Woodhull High School (Illinois) in 1946, and Western Illinois in 1952, and earned his master's degree from Northern Illinois University in 1966.
Among his many honors:
• Inducted into the Illinois Athletic Directors Hall of Fame (1998), and the Palatine High Hall of Fame (1999);
• Named Illinois Athletic Director of the Year (1979), and National High School Coaches Association Athletic Director of the Year (1982);
• One of six to receive the "Outstanding Service Award" from the National Federation of State High School Athletic Administrators (1973); and
• Received the 1982 "Distinguished Community Service Award" from the Palatine Chamber of Commerce, and named "Sportsman of the Year" by Northwest Community Hospital (1990).
In 2006, Anderson was inducted into the Somonauk (Illinois) High School Hall of Fame along with the 1954-55 boys basketball team he coached. That was Anderson's first coaching and teaching job after serving two years in the Army, and his team finished 21-5. He coached multiple sports there and at Wyoming (Illinois) High School from 1956-58, where he also coached football.
He joined Palatine High School in 1958, then taught and coached at Fremd (1962-1965) and Conant (1965-69) before returning to PHS in 1969 as its athletic director.
In his first tour at Palatine, he taught business and physical education and was assistant boys basketball coach, working with head coach Richard Kolze, who later served as District 211 superintendent. He also coached football and baseball.
Under Anderson's watch, the sports programs at Palatine grew from seven sports and 15 levels of competition to 22 sports and 61 levels.
In a 1988 Daily Herald column about Anderson's retirement, Keith Reinhard spoke highly of the "soft-spoken and easygoing" coach and administrator.
"Anderson is one of the most conscientious and diligent school administrators ever to work in the Northwest suburbs and the state," Reinhard wrote. "His accessibility and sincerity are mirrored in the popularity he enjoys throughout the district."
Palatine High School athletic director Jerry Dobbs, echoed those comments on Wednesday.
"What I always knew of Chic, and I kind of modeled myself after this, is he didn't ever want to be in the limelight," Dobbs said. "He just wanted to do what he could for the kids at the school. Make sure things should be done the way they should be done, and not really get recognized for it."
Visitation will take place from 3-9 p.m. Friday at Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home, 185 E. Northwest Hwy., Palatine. The family is inviting everyone to wear Palatine High School's colors: scarlet and gray.
A Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas of Villanova Church, 1201 E. Anderson Drive, Palatine, with interment St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Chic Anderson Award Fund, c/o Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home.
• Daily Herald staff writer Mike Spellman contributed to this report.