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Anderson remembered for long-term devotion

By DALLAS COGLE

Staff writer

The dawn of a new school year was harshly interrupted by the somber news Sunday night that longtime Lackey High School athletic director David Anderson had unexpectedly died of an “aneurism in the brain,” according to his widow Garnet, with “absolutely nothing” of a heads-up anything of that nature was wrong physically.

Anderson was 65 years old, his birthday next month.

“It was so sudden, absolutely a total shock,” Garnet said Tuesday morning in a phone interview as she fought back many tears while mixing in some joy and laughs as she began to reminisce about her late husband. “He was a very wonderful person.”

Anderson and his wife, who is a counselor at John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf, were married for 43 years. They knew each other for 46 years as graduate school sweethearts, meeting at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

“We got married on June 14, Flag Day,” Garnet said, referring back to their wedding in 1969.

She then continued with a much more recent fond memory, the day before Anderson died, “He was at a ballgame on Saturday. On Saturday evening, I cut my hair and he was laughing at my hair since I cut it myself.”

By 7:15 a.m. Sunday, Garnet said she found Anderson unconscious at home and quickly called 911 when she could not get him awake. Her initial thought was perhaps he had slipped into a diabetic coma, given he was a diabetic. But nothing of the sort had ever occurred before to Anderson, who always appeared to be in consistently good health.

Anderson was taken to Civista Medical Center in La Plata before being flown to the Shock Trauma Center of University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

At 9:05 p.m. Sunday is when Garnet received the call that Anderson had died.

“It’s a very sad day at Lackey,” Chargers head football coach John Lush said Monday.

Lush recounted receiving an email from Anderson earlier Sunday morning before the aneurism occurred. In fact, Lush got to see a lot of his athletic director during what became the final weekend of his life.

Of course, Anderson was working at Lackey’s varsity football Friday night, which saw the Chargers open the season with a 30-12 victory over visiting La Plata.

Then Lush was with Anderson at Lackey’s freshman football game Saturday morning.

“It’s just crazy,” Lush added. “He was Lackey through and through. I think it’s important to realize that he lived and died doing what he loved most working for the kids and community of Lackey High School.”

A man of devotion

From the many years of marriage to his wife and love for his family — which included one son Brian and four granddaughters in addition to a pair of brothers, a sister and his parents who are all still alive — to his commitment to Lackey, Anderson believed in full devotion.

He worked in Charles County Public Schools for 43 years, all but one of those at Lackey. In 1970, he arrived to Lackey as a physical education teacher. From that point, his relationship with Lackey was an inseparable bond.

Anderson became the Lackey athletic director in 1980 and thrived in the position the last 32 years though he never looked for recognition or public praise.

“David was an extremely honorable man. He was the first person in the doors and the last one out,” said close friend Glenn Jones, who spent 32 of his 37 years in the school system working alongside Anderson at Lackey before retiring on July 1.

Jones was most recently a Lackey vice principal after having prior tenures at the school as an accomplished wrestling and football head coach under Anderson.

He continued, “He was a special friend, a special human being. I relish every moment I was able to spend with him. He didn’t believe in delegating responsibility. He was just a joy to work with. He was always at the school so this is going to be a huge loss. He’s going to be sorely missed. He’s been there since the inception of the school at its present site.”

Jones then added, “It’s going to be extremely surreal when I go to a Lackey football game and not see him in the corner of the end zone in his golf cart. He had no visions of retiring.”

Garnet echoed, “He was very devoted to Lackey and the Lackey community. That was his life.”

In 2010, Anderson was honored as the Maryland State Athletic Director of the Year by the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association.

“David received awards but you never knew it,” Jones said. “He didn’t want anyone to know it.”

Lackey fifth-year principal James Short noted that Anderson was also a member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and was scheduled to fly out this Saturday for a conference, training others in his position.

“It’s a huge loss. Dave Anderson was like the historian of athletics in this building,” Short said. “He was on the coaching staff when I played basketball here in 1976. One thing is for sure, Mr. Anderson was going to represent athletics in a positive manner.”

The Lackey principal, a product of his school’s 1977 graduation class, added, “My relationship with him transcended over three to four decades. He was a really great guy.”

In addition to his athletic director duties, Anderson spent 20 years as the Lackey boys soccer head coach. At times during that stretch, he also headed the junior varsity boys soccer program.

Anderson was also the junior varsity head coach of boys basketball at Lackey during the 1970s while serving on the varsity coaching staff.

“I was fortunate to work with Mr. Anderson at Henry E. Lackey for four years where I learned a great deal in athletic administration from him,” said McDonough athletic director Jason Bursick, formerly the Chargers wrestling head coach. “Many lessons learned are used continuously in my daily endeavors as AD at McDonough. I overly enjoyed being a colleague of Mr. Anderson’s but more importantly a friend of his. He was a person that I could call at any time to get straight answers from in regard to athletics.”

What made the biggest impact on Bursick was the personal memories with Anderson outside of the job title they had in common.

“I always liked talking to Mr. Anderson about his hobby of hunting,” Bursick added. “He would get so excited telling me about his day in the woods or the buck that he bagged the night before. You could always count on Mr. Anderson to send emails daily of wildlife, patriotism or a funny/strange one you know, those ones that would make you just laugh and shake your head as you said to yourself, ‘Only Davie Boy.’

“I will terribly miss him, our conversations and those emails.”

dcogle@somdnews.com