Gary Lee Anhalt died suddenly on Feb. 5, 2021, at the age of 73. Born and raised in South St. Paul, Minn., Gary enjoyed his time as a competitive rower at the Minnesota Boat Club. He earned a B.S. in elementary education from Winona State University and went on to flourish in a 40-year career as an educator, starting by teaching science and physical education in Cedar Rapids. He met his wife Holly (Brisbin) Anhalt in college and they were married in 1970 at First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids.
Gary lived a professional life of purpose, leadership and commitment serving the children and families of Cedar Rapids. During his teaching career, Gary started the soccer program in the Cedar Rapids schools, coaching at Washington High School for over two decades. He was a founding member of the Iowa Soccer Coaches Association and a member of the Iowa Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame. Passionate about student wellness and physical fitness, Gary and his fellow physical education teachers started the district-wide fifth grade Fun Run during his time at Grant Wood Elementary, an event that encourages children to be physically active and have fun. He served on the Cedar Rapids Recreation Commission for seven years.
He retired in 2009 and ran for school board of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, serving as an at-large board member, first elected in 2009, and re-elected in 2013 and 2017, with his term set to expire this year. He served as a district director for the Iowa Association of School Boards and was a 30-year delegate to the National Education Association Representative Assembly. Additionally, he worked for 12 years as president of the Cedar Rapids Education Association, the teachers union. During his time as CREA president, he was part of the mentoring and induction program for new teachers.
Gary also spent 20 years as a commercial photographer, running a black and white studio out of his basement and shooting countless weddings, proms, homecomings and church events. Gary loved technology, photography, video filming/editing, and could be often found with a camera or other gadget in his hands. He taught elementary students how to take photos and started a news broadcasting studio at Grant Wood Elementary. He was an active member of All Saints Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids, where he distributed communion. Gary was a proud and loving father to his three children and in the later part of his life, he discovered the joys of being a devoted and playful grandparent to his four grandchildren. He and his wife Holly celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2020.
His professional community will remember him as a tireless advocate for teachers, children and public education, and all who knew him will remember his warmth and kindness. Gary believed that everyone mattered, and would tell his colleagues to ask themselves, "Was anyone's day better because you were in it?"
He was preceded in death by his mother, Marjorie Anhalt; and his brother, William Anhalt.
Gary is survived by his wife of nearly 51 years, Holly Anhalt; and his children, Ben Anhalt and Shawn Durrett, Peter and Meg Anhalt (Walter), and Heidi Anhalt and Shaun Cassells; grandchildren, Macy and Willa Anhalt and Audrey and Alexander Cassells; siblings, Tom Anhalt, Jim Anhalt, Diane Schember and Laura Anhalt; and father, Robert Anhalt.
Private family funeral Mass: 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. Friends and extended family are invited to watch the Mass via livestream. Please find the livestream link on Gary's tribute wall and share your support and memories with his family at www.stewartbaxter.com under obituaries. An in-person service is planned for a later date when safe to gather in celebration of Gary's life.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Gary Anhalt's name from his family, friends and CREA family may be made to the Cedar Rapids Community Schools Foundation (www.crcsf.com). Additionally, the community is encouraged to honor Gary's memory by reaching out to legislators to advocate for funding and resources for education.