Craig Nicholas expected the death of his longtime friend and co-coach Ted Anagnos to be, somehow, more epic.
“I always figured he’d be wrestling a gorilla on some volcano some place and the mountain would explode and that’s how it would happen. He’s was too dang young.” Nicholas said.
In the end, Anagnos died after a brief and intense battle with cancer at age 63. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and son, Christopher and Tony.
Anagnos was a volunteer coach, mentor and community cheerleader with an unmatched passion for contributing to the students making their way through McNary High School.
“He always could see the bigger picture and was a great father and husband. There were dozens of kids he got into school or got through school and who wouldn’t be the people they are today without him,” said Nicholas.
Anagnos was, at times, a larger-than-life personality. Short in stature, he had a booming, raspy voice that was unmissable on football and baseball fields and in the gym at McNary High School. It was a voice he deployed as frequently in praise as it was in admonishment.
Nicholas said Anagnos was the one to smooth things over when things got tense in the baseball dugout, and that a wink and atta-boy from Anagnos went a long way to salving any perceived wounds.
Anagnos and Nicholas were both part of the coaching staff that helped lead McNary to two football state championships.Nicholas served as defensive coordinator and Anagnos as lineman coach.
“We weren’t on the same page or same paragraph, we were on the same dang sentence,” Nicholas said.
That was possible because the two spent every Saturday watching film in their own homes and calling each other to consult about what could be done to face coming challenges or step up the Celtic game.
“By the end of the day, we’d have talked to each other 15, 17, 20 times. We should have just gotten together. Between the two of us, we always thought a kid could be half a step faster,” Nicholas said.
Anagnos’ day job was as a financial advisor. His business involvement led him to the Rotary Club of Keizer which was another source of pride and involvement. Alex Miller got to know him through Rotary and Anagnos’ “fireside chat,” essentially the low-down on what Rotary Is and what is expected of members.
“The big thing I remember was him telling me to bring my family to Rotary events and get them involved, too,” Miller said. “We got to know each other as parents and Teddy really directed our boys.”
Anagnos coached Miller’s oldest son in his freshman football season, the young Celtics went 9-0 that year.
Even before the 9-0 season, Anagnos did everything he could to support the athletes he coached. He submitted weekly reports to Keizertimes on the freshmen teams’ progress and soared beyond the call of duty as he tried to get as many kids’ names in the paper as possible.
“He told me years ago that his passion was for high school kids. He was primarily a coach who did a little bit of stocks and bonds on the side to support his habit,” Miller said.
Fellow Rotarian John Doneth said the two bonded early over their interest in youth sports, Anagnos was coaching football and Doneth was an umpire for Little League.
“He had a tough-love style of coaching, but I think a lot of student-athletes are better off for having known Ted. He was a straight shooter and not shy about offering an opinion, but I always found him to be totally honest and he walked the talk,” Doneth said.
Doneth and Anagnos had offices near each other at Staats Lake for a time and said many Saturdays were spent in each other’s company sharing news of the students they were guiding and community developments.
Even in sports and activities where Anagnos wasn’t a coach, he was a presence.
“He was always at the games whether we were at home or away,” said Jim Litchfield, a former head coach of the McNary basketball program.
Litchfield and Anagnos met when the former dabbled in football coaching and their friendship continued thereafter. When one of the star athletes in the basketball program began experiencing troubles at home, Anagnos took him in and supported him through graduation. It wasn’t the first or only time he took in a student.
“He was a coach and in the inner circle and he would hear us talk about what was happening with the kids. Eventually, he was there offering assistance,” Litchfield said.
Anagnos gave generously to all the Celtic sports as well as fine arts activities at McNary in ways that were often unheralded at the time.
“He would do whatever he could whether it was giving them a meal, giving them a ride, giving them advice if the kids showed passion,” said Jeff Auvinen, McNary’s head football coach. Auvinen said Anagnos was as much a mentor to him as he was to the students when he first started teaching at the school in 1992.
“He always said he was going to make taxpayers out of our kids,” Auvinen said. While that might seem like self-interest on the surface, it went much deeper, Auvinen continued, “He wanted them to be good people that are doing what they are supposed to be doing, that have a good job and good family, and are pulling their weight.”
Even after Anagnos stepped away from his coaching duties and took up part-time residence in Nevada, Auvinen said there was a message on his phone every Friday after the games saying he’d watched the film and offering encouragement in all areas.
Keizertimes asked every person interviewed for this story where they thought Anagnos’ passion for students arose from. To a one, they said it was his upbringing in Lodi, Calif.
“Sports were huge there and his coaches were his role models. I’ve heard so many stories about his coaches and what they taught him. He carried that over into his life and giving back to the community and the kids,” Auvinen said. “I think they broke the mold after him, he had McNary blue running through his veins and we’ll always remember him.”
It was why whenever Anagnos dropped in to meet the latest batch of Celtic gridders Auvinen introduced him as “The Legend” Coach Anagnos.