EAST PROVIDENCE — As agile octogenarian and city native Edmund “Ed” Anelundi half-jokingly puts it, people are finally beginning to recognize the many contributions he’s made to both area sports and the community as a whole due in part to his age.
At a still spry and sharp 85-years-old, Mr. Anelundi was recently selected as one of five inductees into the East Providence High School Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Raymond B. Studley, graduating Class of 1983; Debra Zepp ’71; Angela Renaud ’66, and David J Kelleher, honorary category, join Mr. Anelundi, ’45, as this year’s honorees.
“I don’t think people think I’m going to be around much longer, so they’ve been giving me these awards,” Mr. Anelundi quipped. He was also inducted into the Rhode Island Girls’ Tennis Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame within the past few years.
“My sister (Marie) submitted my name eight years ago. That’s why they said I was 77,” Mr. Anelundi continued, referring to his mistaken age in the original press release on the 2012 EPHS Hall inductees. “But it’s an honor. I’m very happy. People used to call me all the time wondering why I wasn’t in. Now they’re calling to congratulate me. I feel good about it. And my kids and family are happy for me.”
Mr. Anelundi’s induction could be placed in the “better late than never” file. A 1945 EPHS grad, he was a member of the Townies’ state championship basketball team that winter. East Providence defeated Westerly in sudden-death double-overtime, the then-rules of the game, at Brown University’s famed but since-demolished Marvel Gym. Gid Spence, Mr. Anelundi’s backcourt-mate, scored the winning bucket, his only two points of the game, which came after the Townies and Bulldogs finished regulation and a five-minute overtime period tied.
“I have the best memories of high school. We had so much fun. We didn’t carry on. We didn’t know what drugs were. A bunch of us just hung around and played sports and just had a great time,” Mr. Anelundi said.
An All-Stater on the hardwood, as well as in cross country and track and field, both as a javelin thrower and runner, Mr. Anelundi next embarked on an athletic career at the University of Rhode Island where he was supposed to play basketball for legendary Rams’ coach Frank Keaney.
Fate, however, interceded. Before the start of the college hoops season Mr. Anelundi, who enlisted in the United States Navy as World War II was coming to an end, was called into active service.
“I was practicing for cross country at the time and one day I saw my father waiting for me. I said to the guy who I was running with someone must be dead because my father wouldn’t leave East Providence for anything,” Mr. Anelundi said. “Anyway, when I was through my father handed me the letter from the Navy and it said I was being called up. I never felt so bad in my life.”
Mr. Anelundi, fortunately, did not see military action, and he also missed one very famous piece of URI basketball history.
The Rams qualified for the National Invitation Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden at the conclusion of the 1945-46 season. It was there that Ernie Calverley hit what is referred to in Kingston as the “shot heard round the world,” a half-court bucket to give URI a buzzer-beating win over Bowling Green. The Rams would later play for the NIT title, losing to Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky, 46-45, in the championship game.
Mr. Anelundi, though, was stranded on a Navy vessel in New Jersey, none of his fellow sailors willing to take his watch while URI played just up the road in Manhattan.
“Mr. Keaney (Frank Keaney, URI’s legendary basketball coach) told me that if I could get leave I could stay with the team in New York and sit on the bench,” Mr. Anelundi said. “Any time someone wanted me to cover watch for them, I would. But when it came time to do me a favor no one stepped up. I never covered another watch for the rest of my time in the Navy. I never forgot that.”
Out of the Navy and realizing his collegiate athletic career was pretty much over, Mr. Anelundi settled into life back in East Providence. He married his wife Jackie in 1947, spending 52 years with his beloved before she passed in 1999. They had two children: Ed (not Jr.), who is a retired EPFD captain now residing in Fall River, and Judi, of Whitesboro, Texas. He has three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Mr. Anelundi, after working in the family automotive spring business, eventually joined the East Providence Fire Department in 1954, where he would be a driver for the next 20 years, retiring in 1974. He drove the engine truck at Station 1 for 12 years then spent four years each as the ladder driver at the Riverside and Kent Height stations before stepping away.
While a firefighter, Mr. Anelundi trained to become one of the first certified tennis coaches in the area. In 1968, he graduated an instructor program run by the United States Tennis Association’s New England branch, the initial group of teachers to receive the national organization’s seal of approval.
Just before retiring from the EPFD, he purchased the historic Indoor Tennis Court on Blanding Avenue off Massasoit Avenue. He would own the single court facility for 17 years before selling in 1990 to Tom Brun, who remains the proprietor.
Mr. Anelundi still coaches privately at the Indoor Court and elsewhere to this day. His current star pupil is LaSalle Academy All-Stater Amanda Pitocco. He also gained note as being the Barrington High School girls’ tennis team head coach since 1994. Mr. Anelundi’s Eagles have won three state championships (1995 and 96 and 2001) and have consistently been among the premier programs at the Division I level. It was for his efforts at Barrington that Mr. Anelundi received his tennis coaches’ Hall of Fame induction.
“I’ve had some terrific kids, some very good players,” Mr. Anelundi said. “I tell the girls at Barrington all the time to enjoy high school because it’s the best time of their lives.”
Mr. Anelundi has lived a pretty eventful life. The son of Michael and Jenny Anelundi, he grew up in the city area around “Six Corners.” Besides the EPHS Hall induction, Mr. Anelundi’s name will live on in other ways. Edmund Street, created on property his family once owned, is named after him. In essence, Mr. Anelundi is what being a “Townie” is all about; having lived, been educated, worked, raised a family and spent his retirement in East Providence.
“It’s home,” Mr. Anelundi added. “My family and friends have always been here. And my days at East Providence High School are still probably the best time of my life. The best part of the city is the people. I still have friends and know a lot of people, but there’s not too many of us from the Class of 1945 left.”
“Most of the kids who go to East Providence High School love it and they seem to stay around here or eventually come back,” he concluded. “I guess I’m one of those people.”
The follow are brief biographies of the four other EPHS Hall Class of ’12 inductees provided by the Hall of Fame Committee.
- Raymond Studley is a 23-year veteran of the Rhode Island State Police and a Lieutenant Colonel. He is also Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Field Operations and second in command overall. Mr. Studley has served in many capacities including being named interim police chief for East Providence in 2009. He is also a 2011 graduate of the FBI National Academy. While in high school, Mr. Studley was a three-sport athlete and received a student/athlete scholarship to attend URI.
- Debra Zepp was named Rhode Island Elementary School Principal of the Year in 2011 by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals. Ms. Zepp is principal at the Matunuck Elementary School in South Kingstown. According to the press release at the time, she was recognized for “her willingness to try new approaches and for her infectious enthusiasm.” Ms. Zepp has also been praised in education circles for her efforts to boost her school’s science writing abilities and for her style of “reaching out to parents, the community, students and teachers.” Ms. Zepp was further recognized for improving her school’s culture by her “personal touch, which includes writing notes on each child’s report card and her daily greeting of student’s by name every morning.”
- Angela Renaud is a post-secondary accreditation evaluator for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Ms. Renaud is also Dean of the John Hazen White School of Arts and Sciences and a full professor. She has worked as an educational consultant and a reading coordinator for the Diocese of Providence. Ms. Renaud has also been a reading specialist for the Swansea School Department and taught English in East Providence for two years in the 1970s. She was named Outstanding Woman of the Year by Johnson & Wales University in 1991 and has been a speaker at several national conferences. Renaud has been a volunteer board member for several charitable organizations.
- David J. Kelleher was a three-year honors student at Our Lady of Providence Seminary. While in high school he participated in three sports and was an active volunteer helping out at area hospitals. Mr. Kelleher has served East Providence as a teacher, principal, local historian and preservationist. He is also a member of several civic groups and a role model for many young people. He first taught school in Attleboro and came to East Providence in 1968. Mr. Kelleher was named principal at several East Providence elementary schools. A published author, he wrote “An Illustrated Tour of East Providence.” Mr. Kelleher has been a leader in the East Providence Historical Society since 1985 and is a founding member of the “Friends of Pomham Lighthouse” committee, which has worked to restore the historic landmark. Mr. Kelleher is an active volunteer in several key East Providence social and educational organizations and a respected educator.
The 29th annual East Providence High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Venus de Milo Restaurant in Swansea.
The event is open to the public and tickets are available at the high school main office and at Martin and Riverside Middle Schools. Tickets are $40. and include a full dinner. Reception is at 12 noon and dinner at 1 p.m. Tickets can also be obtained from Don and Linda Carlson by calling 401-433-3693. Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. Kenneth R. Walker, class of 1949, retired East Providence school administrator, Rhode Island College professor and current Chairman of the R.I. Parole Board will be Master of Ceremonies.
Any EPHS graduate is welcomed to join the Hall of Fame Committee. The general public can nominate someone for Hall of Fame consideration. For further information please email [email protected]