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.