Dedicated to the Dude: LAHS gym now bears name of legendary school principal

Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Former Los Altos High School Principal Dushan “Dude” Angius, above, addresses the crowd at Saturday’s ceremony naming the gymasium in his honor. Seated behind Angius are, from left, Andrew Tink, Dick Henning and Mel Kahn.

It took more than 35 years, but Dushan “Dude” Angius was finally recognized last Saturday for his many contributions to Los Altos High School – and the world – with the dedication of the gymnasium now bearing his name.

As Los Altos High principal, coach, counselor and all-around school leader for 20 years, Angius’ reputation for ethics and fairness drew admiration and devotion from the thousands of students he served between 1956 and 1976. Hundreds of alumni attended the dedication ceremony, held, appropriately, in the high school gym.

His strong leadership was key to the high school’s early reputation as an athletic powerhouse that dominated in virtually every sport. Angius himself was a star athlete.

“Does that sound as good to you as it does to me – the Dushan ‘Dude’ Angius gymnasium?” asked Dick Henning, who served as master of ceremonies at the event.

The idea for the gym dedication arose after 1959 Los Altos High alumnus Mel Kahn visited with Angius earlier this year. Reminiscing with Kahn about his time at Los Altos High, Angius reportedly said, “They were the most satisfying, happiest times I ever had, and there’s nothing there to show that I ever was there.”

Kahn replied, “I think we can do something about that.”

Kahn organized a committee of alumni and members of the Rotary Club of Los Altos, of which Angius is a longtime member. The committee successfully lobbied the high school board for the name change, gathering more than 1,200 signatures on a petition.

Los Altos Rotarian Mary Prochnow, who worked with Angius in founding the Rotary AIDS Project, spoke of how Angius “changed the world” through his willingness to participate in the 1990 documentary “The Los Altos Story.” The documentary, chronicling his son Steve’s death from AIDS, helped spread understanding around the world about the devastating disease, the reactions to which previously had been steeped in fear and ignorance.

Andrew Tink, a Los Altos High exchange student in 1971, flew from Australia to appear at the dedication. Claire Pelton, who taught English under Angius, also praised the former principal’s contributions. Both noted how Angius stood firm in protecting students and staff from “resistance” groups trying to wreak havoc on campus during the tumultuous late 1960s and early 1970s.

Angius, today beset by health problems that have left him legally blind and barely able to move his legs, addressed the large audience with his customary gratitude and humor.

His voice cracking with emotion, Angius said, “I consider myself to be the luckiest, happiest man in the world,” quoting “Pride of the Yankees” great Lou Gehrig, who, like Angius, saw the positive in his life despite physical suffering.

The dedication committee has established a scholarship in Angius’ name for students exhibiting leadership characteristics. The committee has raised $27,000 of its $50,000 goal.

LAHS gym named in honor of Dude Angius - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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