Gary Anhalt
1947 - 2021
GARY LEE ANHALT Cedar Rapids 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 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 ( Additionally, the community is encouraged to honor Gary's memory by reaching out to legislators to advocate for funding and resources for education.
Published by The Gazette on Feb. 10, 2021.
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12 Entries
Mr. Anhalt was a first year teacher as I started 4th grade. I saw him years later, as he was the photographer at my brother’s wedding. So glad I had the opportunity to have him as my teacher and certainly the greater Cedar Rapids community was fortunate to have him him as an advocate for students and their teachers. My deepest condolences to the entire Anhalt family.
Diane Burnett
Diane Burnett
March 18, 2021
Mr Anhalt was my gym teacher at Eisenhower elementary school back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He had a ton of energy and I remember he would get involved in the games and sports with us. While this was a long time ago, the good memories of him as my teacher and coach remain. He was a good man who passionately did what he loved; teaching and coaching and investing in young peoples lives. May you Rest In Peace Mr Anhalt and may God bless and comfort your family.
Tracy Powell, MD
March 9, 2021
Mr Anhalt was one of my favorite teachers at Eisenhower Elementary.
A lot of great memories for this man
And his dedication to all of us who knew him. I always look forward to going to Gym, he always encouraged to give it our best.
Jeff Lightner
I attended from 1967-1973
Jeff Lightner
March 8, 2021
I got to know Gary as a school board member through his involvement in the Iowa Association of School Boards. His commitment to students, to educators, and to our public schools impacted everything he did. He treated everyone with warmth, compassion and caring. My sympathy to his family and the entire Cedar Rapids community.
Lisa Bartusek
February 16, 2021
I remember going to his birthday before Alex's birthday last year online. His birthday was 2 days before Alex's. I remember all the fun stuff we used to do at the Mall of America. Grandpa bought me a tiara at the Disney store and we played with the Legos at the Lego store. We enjoyed riding the "up and down" together. I also enjoyed many visits to the Komo Zoo with Grandpa and Grandma.
Audrey Cassells
February 12, 2021
Sorry of the loss of a good Christian and a good democrat. Enjoyed the many conversations with Gary after Mass. He will be missed.
Parnell Etteldorf
February 12, 2021
I am so sorry for your loss of a loved one. Gary contributed so very much to our community.
Janice Aiels
February 11, 2021
Gary had a big heart. He was a good friend, teacher, leader, and mentor. 73 is too young to die. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
My heart is sad, and I am sad for his immediate family and his extended family.

Rosemary Berckes
February 10, 2021
Gary was my physical education teacher when I went to Grant Wood between 4th and 5th grade. He was a good man and he will truly be missed godspeed sir.
Dustin Coughenour
February 10, 2021
So sorry to learn about Gary. A terrible loss for so many. Gary lived a great life and touched so many with his time and efforts. Sympathy to all family and friends. He will be missed.
Marv Trachta
February 10, 2021
Our neighborhood, our community, our state, has experienced a great loss with the passing of Gary. To the family, thank you for sharing him so that he could advocate for our children and educators and Dems for years. To his co-workers, may you aspire to his doggedness and care and ability to look to the future. With love...
Sayde (Brooker) Alexandrescu
February 10, 2021
Daniel Leach
February 9, 2021
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