‘Eric loved his job because he loved the Kentridge students, staff, coaches and community,’ said Dave Lutes, longtime Kent School District athletic director. “He fostered leadership, sportsmanship and the ‘KR WAY.’

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Eric Anderson, considered by many the face of Kentridge High School athletics, unexpectedly died in his sleep at home early Saturday morning.

He was 57.

Anderson taught in the Kent School District since 1985 and became athletic and activities director at Kentridge in 2000.

“Eric was a tremendous educator, a mentor to many and believed in the potential of young adults,” Kentridge principal Mike Albrecht said. “He was for the past 20 years the face of Kentridge. … Eric has left a legacy at Kentridge that will have a lasting impact and he will not be forgotten by thousands of people.”

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Students organized a candlelight vigil for him Monday night at Kentridge.

Anderson, a graduate of Enumclaw High School, taught and coached at Meeker Junior High beginning in 1985 and began teaching at Kentridge in 1998, becoming an assistant principal in charge of athletics and activities two years later.

“Eric loved his job because he loved the Kentridge students, staff, coaches and community,” said Dave Lutes, his good friend and longtime Kent School District athletic director. “He fostered leadership, sportsmanship and the ‘KR WAY.’ His incredible support and guidance of the outstanding KR coaches and athletes will be his legacy by which to remember him.

“Eric will be deeply missed by not only the KR community, but also by the other individuals he touched in the Kent School District and the North and South Puget Sound leagues.”

One of those touched was Tony Davis, longtime football coach and AD at Tahoma High in Maple Valley.

“Eric was everyone’s friend,” Davis said. “He had the wisdom that goes with his years of experience as an AD and cared about all the kids in every sport. Great one-liners that would always lighten the mood. Eric would finish our conversations with, ‘See you buddy,’ and it had a genuineness to it that cannot be put into words. That’s the memory of him I will keep in my heart.”

An email went out to Kentridge staff members Saturday afternoon announcing that Anderson had passed away from unknown causes, pending an autopsy. The Kent School District said Tuesday the autopsy showed Anderson died of a heart attack.

“Eric enjoyed the 4th of July with family at the lake and was frustrated with Felix’s performance at last night’s (Friday’s) baseball game,” fellow staff member Glenn Dacus wrote in the email. “There was no indication that anything was wrong. He died peacefully and we will miss him terribly.”

Anderson is survived by his wife, Margy, and two children — son, Ian, and daughter, Maria.