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Nicholas Denis Ferentinos

1942 - 2016
Nicholas Denis Ferentinos Obituary
Nicholas Denis Ferentinos
May 25, 1942 - Jan. 25, 2016
Saratoga, CA
Nick Ferentinos passed away last Monday after a courageous battle with lung cancer with his wife Dina—the love of his life—by his side.
An esteemed educator, Nick taught at Homestead High School for 35 years, inspiring and influencing thousands of students and fellow teachers over the course of his career. Throughout his life, he established lasting relationships, which were often built on his passion for language and his keen wisdom about the deeper lessons of life. Nick's intelligence, kindness, integrity, and natural ability to cultivate deep friendships were a gift to all who knew him.
Nick was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Greek immigrants Theodora and Denis Ferentinos. Four months after Nick's birth, his father passed away, leaving his mother to care for him and his two older brothers. A few years later, the family moved to central California, and Nick often recalled his idyllic days growing up in Modesto.
While attending San Jose State University Nick asked Dina to audition for a play he was directing. Though she could not attend, Nick had already made up his mind. "It's okay," he said. "You've got the part." Their connection was instantaneous, and from then on, the two were inseparable. They married in 1965.
After earning his bachelor's degree and teaching credential, Nick began working at Homestead High School in 1965, teaching English, journalism and serving as the adviser to the student newspaper, The Epitaph. Under Nick's leadership, the fledgling newspaper reached national prominence and won numerous prestigious awards over the course of his tenure. Never idle, Nick also spent a sabbatical year co-authoring a book, The Islands: A Personal Portrait of the San Juans, in 1973.
Nick was an extraordinary teacher who had a talent of seeing the uniqueness in each of his students and motivating them to achieve high standards. This created lasting bonds, as both Nick and Dina forged life-long relationships with many of his students and continued to welcome them to their home for nearly 50 years.
For his tireless efforts as an educator and within the field of scholastic journalism, Nick has received a wide range of accolades from major institutions such as the New York Times and Columbia University. In 1993, he received a Fulbright to work with journalism teachers in New Zealand. The following year he was named National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year.
After more than three decades at Homestead, Nick retired from the classroom, but not from teaching. Instead, he shifted his focus and became a mentor for the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz, where he worked to help teachers nationwide. He also maintained his ongoing affiliations with the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association.
Nick and Dina loved spending time in Mendocino and traveling to New York to attend plays. Reading and music—two passions Nick's brother Greg introduced him to at an early age—delighted him. Nick's CD collection numbered in the thousands and covered many genres. A self-described "completist," Nick collected every recording of favorite musicians such as Neil Young and Richard Thompson. But more importantly, he loved sharing music with Dina and friends, often attending concerts at venues around the Bay Area.
Nick liked to quote a Beatles lyric that he thought summed up his life:
And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
Indeed, this was evident when the lung cancer diagnosis Nick received last April prompted an outpouring of appreciation for the lasting impact he made on so many lives. Former students compiled more than 150 tributes, binding them together in a two-volume gift that moved him to no end. Additional letters and emails arrived separately, and many former students around the country often traveled to visit with Nick. In his final weeks, he often said, "I'm such a lucky guy. I feel surrounded by love."
Nick leaves behind his beloved wife, Dina, his brother Jerry, his dear sister-in-law, Holly Perrucci, eight nieces and nephews, and cherished friends all around the world. His brother, Greg, preceded him in death. The date and location of Nick's memorial service will be posted within the next two weeks at http://www.epitaphtribute.com.
A student scholarship fund has been created in Nick's name to honor his lifelong appreciation for the written word. For more information or to make a donation, go to:

View the online memorial for Nicholas Denis Ferentinos
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jan. 31, 2016
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