Gilroy native led AIDS fight

Dec. 1 was World AIDS Day, a time to reflect on the disease that still threatens and ravages lives in the U.S. and around the globe. Stories behind the Los Altos Story, a new book about Dude Angius, Gilroy High School Class of 1946, a pioneer in AIDS awareness, was published this month.

Born in 1928, Dushan Angius Jr. lived on Rosanna Street and later on Carmel Street. His father, Dushan Angius, Sr., had a service station on the southeast corner of Sixth and Monterey streets, later on the southwest corner of Fourth and Monterey streets and was a volunteer fireman. Dude’s mother Margaret taught at Brownell Elementary.

Dude, as Dushan Jr.  became known as a child, was an outstanding student and was freshman and senior class president. As an athlete, he won 11 letters in basketball, football and track.  They called him “The Gilroy Flash.” In both his junior and senior years, he was captain of the basketball team and all-league MVP.

Gilroy High baseball had been discontinued in World War II and was not reinstated until 1947, so Dude played in the Fast Pitch League, where his team won the league championship. He led in batting, RBIs and triples, made the SC Valley softball hall of fame, was on several all-star teams, and was offered a Stanford scholarship. Earlier this year, Dude was inducted into the Gilroy High School Hall of Fame.

Dude, as Dushan Jr.  became known as a child, was an outstanding student and was freshman and senior class president. As an athlete, he won 11 letters in basketball, football and track.  They called him “The Gilroy Flash.” In both his junior and senior years, he was captain of the basketball team and all-league MVP.

Gilroy High baseball had been discontinued in World War II and was not reinstated until 1947, so Dude played in the Fast Pitch League, where his team won the league championship. He led in batting, RBIs and triples, made the SC Valley softball hall of fame, was on several all-star teams, and was offered a Stanford scholarship. Earlier this year, Dude was inducted into the Gilroy High School Hall of Fame.

Dude graduated from Stanford University, where his athletic career was cut short by a knee injury. He would teach at Mountain View High School after graduation, where he was a coach and athletic director, then became athletic director at Los Altos High School after leading Mountain View’s basketball team to an undefeated season. He retired from education in 1982, and would work until 2000 in insurance.

In 1989, when his son Steve flew home from New York, he looked so gaunt that Dude and his wife, Barbara could hardly recognize him. Steve, who was gay, had AIDS at a time when there was no effective treatment. Dude had just become president of the Los Altos Rotary Club, and soon a fellow Rotarian announced he had contracted AIDS from a transfusion. The son of another club member was a filmmaker, and his friend was Robin Young, a news correspondent (now co-host of Public Radio International’s daily show, “Here and Now”) who then wrote what came to be known as The Los Altos Story. Young brought a film crew to the Angius home and documented the raw emotions of the Angius family as they struggled to share their love and support for their son. On the first day of filming, Steve had to be rushed to the hospital. He died that same day.

Angius and other Rotarians organized the Rotary AIDS Project, which turned The Los Altos Story into a 30-minute documentary that earned the Peabody Award for Broadcast Excellence. It reportedly inspired the Oscar-winning film, Philadelphia. The film can be seen online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LK3CBcTCqw&t=107s

As a keynote speaker at the 1992 Rotary International Convention, Dude shared his story with an audience of 25,000, to a standing ovation. The Rotary president said the Los Altos Rotary AIDS Project “changed the face of Rotary.” The project continues to advance AIDS education and research through the world.

Gilroy can be very proud of Dude Angius.

By Phill Laursen

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