In Memoriam

Mike Fanelli

Photo by Dinno Kovic

SF State Athletics Hall of Famer Mike Fanelli (’85) passed away from brain cancer Nov. 25, 2023, at age 67. He set the SF State record for the 10,000-meter race in 1981 and went on to become a Bay Area legend in the world of running. Outside of a successful career in real estate, he coached the USA National Track Team three times as well as 14 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers. A track historian and journalist, he is the namesake for the Bay Area’s Mike Fanelli Track Classic.


Jack Hanson (B.A., ’56), a third-generation San Franciscan, was a mainstay in Bay Area news, working at KRON, KPIX, KTVU, KGO-TV, the Cable Health network and more. He incorporated his wit and personality into his work as a weatherman, talk show host, interviewer and reporter. Also a cartoonist, he’d occasionally incorporate his doodles into weather reports.

“He made everyone he interviewed feel as though they were fascinating to him, because they were. He took joy in learning people’s stories.”
—Maria Goodavage on her friend Jack Hanson, Bay City News, Dec. 14, 2023


Former New York Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson (B.S., ’63) died at age 79 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s. After playing ball at SF State, he signed with the Mets at 19 and was promoted to the major leagues two years later. Upon retiring, he joined the Mets’ coaching staff. He was a National League All-Star in 1970 and 1971, won a Golden Glove award and was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1986.


Before transferring to SF State, Billy Gianquinto (B.S., ’69) played football in high school and for San Francisco City College. After graduation, he began coaching high school football, became head coach at Piner High School, taught physical education, officiated basketball and more. However, his true loves were hunting and fishing. A world-class duck caller, he invented duck whistles and hosted outdoor shows.


Television director Rod Holcomb (B.A., ’69) died at 80. He was best known for directing the pilot and farewell episode of the television show “ER,” snagging an Emmy for the finale in 2009. His directing credits also included shows like “Battlestar Galactica,” “Fantasy Island” and “China Beach.” He was an active member of the Directors Guild of America.


In addition to playing Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” franchise, Carl Weathers’ (B.A., ’74) credits include “Predator,” “Happy Gilmore” and “The Mandalorian.” He also played himself in multiple episodes of the sitcom “Arrested Development.” Before coming to SF State, he played football for San Diego State, had an eight-game stint with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and joined the BC Lions in Vancouver in the Canadian Football League.


Las Positas College’s first-ever theatre instructor Ken Ross (M.A., ’75) left a lasting impression on the campus’ community. Joining the college in 1987, he spent 20 years as the head of the theatre department and 10 as part-time professor emeritus.


Reporter Dave Robb (B.A., ’76) wrote for outlets such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline for over four decades in addition to authoring several investigative books. He covered a range of subjects, but Robb — a son and grandson of union members — was best known for his in-depth reporting on Hollywood’s labor issues.


Agonafer Shiferaw (B.S., ’82), former owner of the historic Rasselas Jazz Club in San Francisco, moved to the U.S. in the ’70s as an SF State student studying Management. After working in local government for a decade, he opened a hardware store in 1984 and Rasselas Jazz Club two years later across the street. The club became a community hub that mixed Shiferaw’s native Ethiopian cuisine and major names in jazz.


Oakland police officer Tuan Quoc Le (B.A., ’13) was killed in the line of duty. Born in Vietnam, Officer Le moved to Oakland and was naturalized in 2001. Dedicated to his community, he graduated from the 183rd Police Academy in February 2020 and served as a community resource officer in West Oakland. “With all of our Ethnic Studies majors, we have always stressed the importance of service to the community. Tuan always took that to heart,” says Grace Yoo, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies. “In fact, I saw him several years ago and he was so excited that he joined the Oakland Police Academy. He wanted to make a difference in the city that he grew up in.”