Two weeks ago in Jerry Tarkanian’s giant master bedroom, the larger-than-life basketball coach was enjoying one of his more lucid moments as his life entered its final days.

In the room was his wife Lois, his daughter Pam, and Anne Archibald, the wife of former University of Utah head coach and BYU director of basketball operations Lynn Archibald. There was laughter in the air, valuable fragments of joy that will long be cherished as Jerry used the short respite as a rallying point in his fading mortality.

“There was a lot of stimulation in that room for him that day,” said Anne.

“We got him outside and he liked it. He was eating and getting stronger and then that all went downhill. I talked to his son Danny Tuesday night and he said Jerry was just minutes away from passing but he was fighting hard. I told Danny some people have a hard time leaving this world and your father has put up a great fight. You know it’s time.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” said Danny.

Tarkanian, 84, died Wednesday after a long battle with health issues. The Hall of Famer won 729 games in a career earmarked by teams that featured lightning-fast offense and smothering, relentless press defense. He was known as a recruiter, a collector of remarkable talent. His coaching career at UNLV and Fresno State also included controversy and legal battles with the NCAA, which ultimately came to overshadow his winning record.

But for Anne, Jerry Tarkanian will always be remembered as a man with the gift of levity and humor, a man with a sparkling personality, a warm friend and a coach who gave her late husband, Lynn, and son Damon their first jobs as college coaches.

Lynn went on to be the head coach at Utah and Idaho State before going to BYU with head coach Roger Reid in the mid-'90s. He died May 1997 at age 52. His son Damon has coached at New Mexico State, Iowa State, USC, Pepperdine and Fresno State.

Lynn was an assistant to Tarkanian at Long Beach State. When Lynn got a job at nearby San Luis Obispo, Tarkanian received an offer to coach at UNLV. Tarkanian called Lynn and asked the assistant if he would join him there if he accepted the offer. When Lynn asked his boss, Ernie Wheeler, Wheeler moved Archibald’s desk out of his office and into the hallway, citing disloyalty, and told him he would not have a job at the end of the year.

Tarkanian moved to Las Vegas after the season and Archibald followed.

“He was always so charming and funny,” said Anne. Most times when he saw her, he’d greet her with the question, “Who are you giving hell now?”

She remembers Tarkanian saying he flew on the same flight as a UNLV recruit who was returning home to Long Beach, California, after a campus visit. “I knew we were in trouble when he never turned the page of the comic book he was reading.”

One time an ex-UNLV player was giving Damon a bad time and it got ugly. Said Tarkanian of that player: “He’s going to be the sorriest person in the world because now he’s got the Catholics and the Mormons praying against him.”

One day UNLV players were concerned about going to play at Wyoming, which boasts an elevation of over 7,000 feet above sea level. Remembers Anne, “Jerry said, ‘What are you guys worrying about? We aren’t playing outside.’”

Affectionately nicknamed Tark the Shark, Tarkanian was the son of Armenian immigrants, born in Euclid, Ohio. His mother, Rose, was a refugee of the Armenian genocide that happened during World War I. His father died when he was 13.

In the winter of 1997 after a game at Fresno State, Fresno City College coach Steve Cleveland — soon to be BYU’s next coach — was talking to Tarkanian and asked if he’d heard that Lynn Archibald was dying of prostate cancer. He did not know.

A somber blanket engulfed Tarkanian and he began to sob like a little child. He joined his players on the team bus and continued to grieve. Things grew silent and you could hear a pin drop.

Two days out from knee replacement surgery, Anne, who now lives in St. George, said when I spoke to her Wednesday that she absolutely will be at Tarkanian’s funeral services in Las Vegas this week alongside Lois, who has served as a Las Vegas councilwoman and is a pillar in the desert community.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” she said.

The lives of two women once known as Lois Huter and Anne Machock intersected because of basketball and they will mourn not a legend of the game, but a husband, father, grandfather and friend.

They will relate to one another more deeply than ever before in a way they never thought they would.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at