Vincent Amendola
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Vincent Amendola
August 5, 1923 - March 3, 2021
Vincent Amendola passed peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on March 3, 2021.
Vince was born in San Francisco to Adelina and Raffaele Amendola. He attended San Francisco public schools, graduating from Galileo High School in 1940 at the age of 16, followed by a brief stint at San Francisco State College.
Fate intervened with the advent of World War II and Vince was drafted into the U.S. Army, assigned to the 11th Armored Division in Europe. He and his fellow soldiers froze during the Battle of the Bulge and visited the Mauthausen concentration camp, which had been liberated and was being run by its former prisoners, an experience Vince never forgot.
After the war he returned to San Francisco State to complete his degree and obtain a teaching credential. On campus, he ran into a fellow student he had met earlier, Claire Peck. They married in 1947 and celebrated their 73rd anniversary this past December.
In 1949 they moved to St. Helena, California where at that time, "...you could play Kick the Can on Main Street." Vince taught science at St. Helena High School and Claire gave piano lessons and also taught music and other subjects. Their first two children, Michèle and Steve, were born at the St. Helena Sanitarium (now St. Helena Hospital). The family made close friendships in St. Helena that they have maintained to this day, now including children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
The family moved to San Mateo in 1956 when Vince accepted a teaching position at Hillsdale High School, and again made lifelong friends. The couple's youngest child, David, was born that year.
Vince left teaching in 1962 to join the California Teachers' Association (CTA) where he remained the rest of his career, eventually being named Executive Director of Region 1, which stretched from San Jose to the Oregon border. He was a passionate advocate for public education, the well-being of teachers, and always expressed (often loudly) a passion for tolerance and the civil rights of individuals.
When Vince and Claire retired, they returned to their beloved St. Helena, purchased property near downtown, and built a beautiful home overlooking their own vineyard.
Vince maintained a lifelong love affair with learning, inquiry, and the pursuit of his many interests. Blessed with a green thumb, he loved tending plants and growing vegetables, hybridizing lilies, and growing cacti and succulents. Ever the science teacher, he loved rocks and minerals and did striking lapidary work. He was also a passionate chef, serving homemade pastas, and homegrown vegetables and fruits to his appreciative guests. They ate it all with glasses of good red wine.
But above all, he cherished traveling with Claire. Using the Calabrian Italian he learned from his parents, and Claire's fluent French, Italian, and Spanish, they spent many vacations in Europe and beyond savoring the geography, the cuisine, and especially the people. They made good European friends, corresponded over 40 years, and enjoyed visiting them and hosting them in the United States.
Vince is survived by his beloved Claire, his children Michèle, Steve, and David, daughter-in-law Liz, brother Eugene, sister-in-law Arlene Peck, and grandsons Daniel (Marina) and Jeremy (Mary Kate).
Those wishing to honor Vince's life may want to consider donating to one of his favorite causes, including the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Planned Parenthood, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, or the NAACP.


To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Mar. 14 to Mar. 21, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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10 entries
April 1, 2021
Your parents are among our favorite people, ever! Why else would we drive hundreds of miles off our course but to see them? There were always wonderful stories, excellent food and wine, grapes to eat, laughter...all the most important things in life.
Mac and Mary Shroyer
March 27, 2021
Both of us were among Mr. Amendola´s students at St. Helena High School. He was an amazing science teacher and made his classes both interesting and education. We send our condolences to the Amendola family.
Jim & Diane Aguirre
March 26, 2021
Words can't begin to cover the memories and joy you brought to us at SHHS. Visits with you and Claire these past years have been fun. RIP
Arden Nicholson Thompson
March 25, 2021
We were neighbors, and friends, for many years. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to tour his garden, and to have him cook for us. Both Vince and Claire hold very dear places in our hearts. We extend our condolences, and are saddened to hear of his passing.
David and Susan Tiedemann
March 21, 2021
I was fortunate enough to have been one of Mr. Amendola's students at St.Helena High School "back then"! He was a wonderful teacher and a very good person and although I am saddened by the loss, I am so happy to learn that he lived such a long and satisfying life! What more can one ask for? RIP
SUSAN LAYMON
March 19, 2021
Vince, although he never told me, was instrumental in getting me my first position as the first executive director for Cupertino Education Assn. in 1970. Clair was a teacher In Cupertino at the time. Vince always maintained a strong successful career of advocacy for teachers.
Bob Persky
Coworker
March 16, 2021
The Amendolas were our next door neighbors for many years in San Mateo, I was about 8 years old when they moved in. I definitely have many memories of Vince and his family. His vwife Claire was just the sweetest person with the happiest personality. I had countless hours of fun playing with their children especially Michele and Steve. Probably the thing that stands out the most about Vince was how much he enjoyed raising plants. There were so many times I would see him handling plants, turning soil in his compost pile, working in his large shed (I thought of it as a mini nursery, he had so many plants in there) . He was constantly in motion, always a project or chore to do.
One particular memory stands out to me, it's something so minor to others it is probably long forgotten. The Amendolas would include me in some of their excursions. Vince was very involved with his profession as a high school teacher at Hillsdale. One friday evening he took me along with either Steve or Michele to a night time Hillsdale football game, I don't think Claire was there. It was the first night game I had ever been to. Wow what a thrilling experience! All the people, the lights, the colors, the noise of the cheering, bands playing, the teams in uniform and the game itself. I was nothing less than awestruck!
I enjoyed sports as a kid so this exposure motivated me to want to play high school football, I couldn't wait for the years to pass. It came to be that I played 4 years of football in high school and I loved it. I'm not sure I ever told Vince what an impression that night game made on me or if I thanked him for bringing me along. Let.me say it now to Claire, Michele, Steve and David that night your father made a big difference in my life, one I will never forget. Thank you Vince for being a great guy and a great neighbor, may you rest in peace.
John Roselli
Friend
March 15, 2021
Vince and Claire came to my retirement party which was quite a drive away. I was not in his Region nor had I ever worked for him. He cared about everyone he worked with.
Connie King
March 15, 2021
During the summer of 1959, I took a biology course from Mr. Amendola at Hillsdale High School because my own high school, Serra (a mile to the north), did not offer that subject in the 1950s. He was an outstanding teacher. He was able to cram an entire year's worth of biology into one summer session and make it interesting. Those daily classes (they were at least three hours long as I recall) could have been numbingly boring. They weren't.
John Horgan
Student
March 14, 2021
Mr Amendola was my biology teacher at Hillsdale High in 1958. I still remember things that he said! Rest in peace
Carolyn Corwin Robinson
Student
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