It’s hard to believe we lost him 10 years ago Dec. 23.
If Santa’s sleigh ferried Gregg Anderson to heaven on the eve of Christmas Eve, it’s only appropriate.
We will celebrate his legacy anew this weekend when Antelope Valley College hosts the 68th Gregg Anderson Invitational men’s basketball tournament.
His greatest legacy is the 1,400 acres of home ownership dreams come true in what we cherish as Rancho Vista.
There’s a reason the Westside School District named a school after him, and AVC named one of its greatest traditions after him.
He reminded us all that, as Dorothy found out in the Wizard of Oz, we don’t have to look farther than our own backyard to pursue our dreams.
As the man who developed Ka’anapali Beach in Maui when the rest us were still figuring out where Oahu was less than a generation after Pearl Harbor, Gregg Anderson could have lived anywhere he wanted in the world.
Other than a few weeks every summer in Maui, he spent 90 percent of his year in the house on the hill overlooking Palmdale.
This was a man who was involved in the wiring of Beverly Hills for cable television, who nearly underwrote the Albertson’s Ranch project that is now Westlake Village, and developed Marin Country Club.
“Oh, sure, the high rollers developments were fun,” Anderson told the Valley Press in 2004. “But I’m prouder of Rancho Vista than anything else I’ve done. Rancho Vista is about people, not profits.
“I love to get up early in the morning and go down and watch the commuters leaving for work, and the mother taking the children by the hand to the bus for school. These are real people, real families, real dreams come true. I’m proud to be their neighbor.”
The Tulsa native was Forrest Gump before Forrest Gump.
He had personal anecdotes with Ronald Reagan, Sen. Ted Kennedy and U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers.
President Reagan always talked about a shining city on a hill.
Gregg Anderson built one.
When they completed the Beverly Hills deal for developer Paul Trousdale, Anderson and his lifelong partner, Ron Waranch, were asked something by Jack Kent Cooke.
“Well, you’ve taken all my money,” Cooke said. “Is there anything else you young men would like?”
Replied Anderson: “Since you brought it up, there’s that new basketball team you’re bringing in from Minnesota. Can we buy season tickets?”
Gregg and Ron were Lakers season ticket-holders whose accounts had single-digit serial numbers.
Their love of basketball prompted them to seek the purchase of the San Diego Clippers in 1981.
“Welcome to The Club,” then-NBA general counsel David Stern said in a congratulatory phone call that was reported by the San Diego Union and Sports Illustrated.
Only the Board of Governors meeting treachery of special master Alan Rothenberg, who wanted to get his friend Donald T. Sterling into the NBA, kept them from owning the Clippers.
Gregg and Ron were multi, multi-millionaires who never wrote a word down in legalese for their partnership.
They trusted people.
It’s why they fell in love with this Valley.
Anderson immediately hit it off with new AVC coach Newton Chelette when he arrived from Santa Barbara City College in 1989.
This was a former D-1 coach who had recruited Joe Dumars at McNeese (La.) State, and almost bagged Karl Malone.
A protege of Jerry Tarkanian, Chelette was too polished to do anything but a touch-and-go from here back to the NCAA, or the NBA that the pilots at Edwards would’ve admired.
Instead, he turned AVC into his perennial backyard of dreams.
The current basketball coach at Paraclete High School is in the California Community College Hall of Fame as both a coach and athletic director.
He made everyone and every place around him better than he found it.
Just like Gregg Anderson.
The “Invitational” in the Gregg Anderson Invitational?
It’s an invitation to you and me to do the same thing.