Our guest rooms at Anderson School in Bothell, WA, are named for teachers and administrators as well as for people who helped shape and inspire the Bothell community. And so we introduce Ron Nardone…
Not only was Ron a student at Anderson, but he continues to enrich the lives of students in the area through his amazing collection of memorabilia, the scholarship he and his wife established and his longtime commitment to the Bothell township.
A letterman sweater. Class photos. Stacks of yearbooks. The old goalposts and scoreboard from the football field. A huge, cloth banner for W.A. Anderson Junior High.
Ron Nardone is an avid collector of memorabilia from W.A. Anderson School, Bothell High and Pop Keeney Field This is just a fraction of stuff he has accumulated over the past five decades (and counting!), assembled in large store- and service-station-like structures and around the grounds on his 12-acre property that friends have christened “Nardo Land.” It all makes sense, really, because the years Ron spent as a student and athlete at Anderson and Bothell were some of the best of his life.
Today, besides being a collector and local historian of sorts, Ron owns a successful construction business and is a strident champion of the Bothell schools and athletics programs. In 2015, Ron and his wife Sally Jo established the annual Nardone Sports Inspiration Scholarship for a worthy Bothell High student “whose enthusiastic participation in BHS sports programs has been a constant inspiration to teammates, coaches, boosters and classmates at Bothell High School.”
Part of the Nardones’ motivation for creating the scholarship was that Ron himself could have benefitted from such inspiration and enticement when he was a student. Before the advent of alternative education, like Bothell’s nationally recognized Secondary Academy for Success school, Ron had trouble, as many people did, learning within the traditional academic system. Sharp as he was, Ron was not achieving at pace as a student. So, while attending Anderson School, he was put into remedial classes in the basement, a decision that impacted his self-esteem. However, Ron went on to become an athlete and played on the Bothell football team during the late 1950s and early ’60s, bolstering his confidence and pride.
After graduation in 1961, Ron’s grandfather advised him to invest in real estate, saying, “Buy dirt, boy.” And he did – for example, he bought the nearby old Maltby schoolhouse in 1974 and much of the property around it, rejuvenating and developing the historic crossroads location. Today, Ron is known as “The Mayor of Maltby.” Perhaps you’ve heard of this tiny, unincorporated town just outside Bothell? After all, it’s home to the well-known Maltby Café, lauded by the Seattle Times, Food Network and Zagat’s alike. (Plan ahead if you want to go! – there’s usually a line to get in.)
The café itself was actually one of Ron’s business ventures – set in the basement gym/cafeteria of the old schoolhouse, three women approached him in 1988 about using the space to start a restaurant. No one really thought it would work – except Ron, that is. He sold the women the space, and the rest is delicious food history.
Ron, at a young age, even before he was out of high school, also began collecting Americana in the form of gas station artifacts. As one article reported, “Every time a gas station remodeled, it got rid of its old signs and pumps. More often than not, the station owner considered the old stuff junk and was content to be rid of it. ‘Nardo’ was happy to oblige. Even when an old station had nothing to offer, he photographed it to preserve the image. By the late 1970s, his collections had grown large enough that he needed more space to house them. What did he build for that purpose? Service stations, of course.”
Today, the local memorabilia Ron has amassed at “Nardo Land” has become something of a museum to Bothell High, Anderson School, and the community in general. He and Sally Jo especially enjoy opening it up for friends, family and alumni, and regularly host big parties and school reunions there, sometimes even chalking up the yard lines on the lawn between the football goalposts. But perhaps their most important legacy to the community and beyond is the Nardone scholarship. With that gift, Ron recognizes those kids who may not necessarily have had the strongest academics, but who do a lot to inspire and lead their teammates, friends, fellow Bothell students and community – just like Ron did back in the day, and as he continues to do today.