Friends, colleagues remember former state senator Samuel Aanestad |

Friends, colleagues remember former state senator Samuel Aanestad

Sam Aanestad

Former state representative and assemblyman Samuel Aanestad is being remembered by colleagues and friends alike, just days after his death.

Aanestad, who was also a dentist, oral surgeon, and served as vice-chief of surgery at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, died Sunday evening at the age of 71.

Katherine Medeiros, President & CEO of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, worked with Aanestad for several years before his retirement from the hospital in 2013.

“I loved working with him,” said Medeiros. “He was very kind, had high integrity. He would listen carefully, and was very thoughtful in his response. He was a very good man.”

Timothy Snyder worked in a partnership with Aanestad for about a year.

“As a person, I can’t say enough good things about him,” said Snyder. “He was honest, hard working, loved his family, was a good practitioner and loved helping people. He loved his patients.”

Snyder said when it came time for Aanestad’s granddaughter to have her wisdom teeth removed, Aanestad was sorry he couldn’t perform the procedure himself but had every faith in Snyder’s ability.

“He will be missed by me, and the community, and his family. He was a great guy,” said Snyder. “It’s a shame that we lost him. He was a good personal friend who I will miss.”

Former Nevada County Supervisor Sue Horne said she didn’t have a lot of contact with Aanestad in the political arena, but instances involving veterans stuck out in her mind.

“It was important to Senator Aanestad that the men and women of the armed services were recognized for their service to our country,” Horne said. “I greatly appreciated his presence and participation in our local efforts to acknowledge our military men and women and their families.”

Greg Marks, a Nevada City resident and former field representative for an assembly member, knew Aanestad through both his political and business lives.

“We first met Dr. Sam in 1990 when he performed oral surgery on our youngest daughter,” Marks said. He was a gentle man and a gentleman all rolled in one package. He made our daughter feel at ease while he examined her, and when the surgery came about, he was gentle and caring.”

Later, their paths crossed in the political world.

“All the time in office, he carried himself with honor, integrity, and an eye for what was best for California,” Marks said.

Dave Humphers, who for 22 years was the head coach of Nevada Union’s Varsity football team, recalls Aanestad fondly.

“Sam was a great friend to Nevada Union football, and very supportive of me personally,” said Humphers. “He cared deeply about the program’s success and cared deeply about the young men who played.”

Humphers coached Aanestad’s son Erik, while the elder Aanestad took on duties of announcing the team’s games over KNCO radio.

“He painted such a clear picture of our games on the radio,” Humphers said. “Sam put out a great broadcast.”

In addition, Aanestad volunteered his time helping out on the sidelines.

Humphers recalled the 1993 Section Championships during which Sam was sick, his voice gravelly. Never to miss a game, Aanestad showed up to fulfill his announcing duties.

“He had a really bad cold and probably should have been at home,” Humphers said. A couple of plays were so exciting, however, that Sam couldn’t help but shout out the action on the field.

“He was very supportive of the synthetic turf project, he was a big supporter of education and the value of sports. For all that he accomplished, he was really supportive of the people in his life. He always found time to be supportive. He gave a lot of time, energy, and support.”

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at or 530-477-4231.

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