Former Coach Hank Anderson Passes Away
Sept. 5, 2005
SPOKANE, Wash. - Hank Anderson, men's basketball coach at Gonzaga University from 1952-1972, passed away Monday morning at Manorcare Health Services in Gig Harbor, Wash., of an aortic aneurysm.
"The entire family was at Dad's side when he passed away," said Terry Anderson, one of Hank's five children. "It was a dignified and painless death."
"Hank left a legacy at Gonzaga," athletic director Mike Roth said when informed of Anderson's death. "He definitely helped lay the foundation for what Gonzaga basketball has accomplished in recent years. He took us into Division I and was behind Gonzaga joining a conference for the first time as a Division I program. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Anderson came to the Bulldogs for the 1951-52 season, taking over a team that had gone 8-22 the previous season and compiled a 19-16 record his first season. In 21 seasons on the Bulldog bench Anderson posted 12 seasons at or above .500, including one stretch where the Bulldogs went 18-8 in 1965, 19-7 in 1966 and 19-6 in 1967 for a 3-year record of 56-21.
Anderson's career mark of 291-275 makes him the winningest coach in Gonzaga men's basketball history and his winning percentage of 51.4 percent is third all-time for coaches who coached five or more seasons. His last game on the Bulldog bench was March 1, 1972, at the University of Idaho, the Bulldogs taking an 85-69 win in a 14-12 season.
After seven seasons playing an independent schedule, Anderson, who doubled as the school's athletic director, helped usher Gonzaga into the Big Sky Conference for the 1963-64 season. Gonzaga remained in the Big Sky Conference until the 1979-80 season when the Bulldogs joined the West Coast Conference, where the Bulldogs still play today. He also saw the Bulldogs make the move into Kennedy Pavilion on the Gonzaga campus for the 1965-66 season after calling the Spokane Coliseum home for several years. Kennedy Pavilion later became the Martin Centre, where the Bulldogs played until moving into the new McCarthey Athletic Center for the 2004-05 season.
Several of Anderson's former players - Frank Burgess, Jerry Vermillion, Blake Elliott, Bob Hunt, Charles Jordan and Jerry Wasson - were present at an alumni gathering last spring in Tacoma to honor their former coach.
Burgess and Vermillion both left their mark on Bulldog basketball. Burgess is the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,196 points and led the nation in scoring with his 32.4 ppg for the his senior campaign of 1960-61. He was also Gonzaga's inaugural men's basketball All-American when he was accorded second-team Associated Press honors his senior season. Vermillion is still Gonzaga's career rebounding leader with 1,670 from 1952-55 and his 1,547 points rank eighth all-time.
In addition to Terry who resides in Spokane, Hank is survived by his wife Betty, and daughters Patricia Mortensen (Carmel, Calif.), Colleen Johnson (Boise, Idaho), Mary Simon (Oregon City, Ore.) and Liz Haley (Fox Island, Wash.).
Funeral services are pending.
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