Sunday, October 17, 2010

Duarte Santos Memorial Library Re-dedication Speech

October 16th, 2010

Thank you everyone for coming out here today and for the opportunity to talk about my father.  I would also like to extend a very special thank you to Isabel Van Sunder and Julie Ramirez.  This re-dedication would not be possible without their passion for this school and their tireless work!  It is really amazing to see so many improvements come to Anne Darling.  My grandmother lived across the street, and I would always come here as a child to visit my parents and friends, and wow, what an amazing transformation.  I thought the school was nice then, now it’s incredible.  I’m a little envious of the next generation of Anne Darling students, they’re going to be spoiled, especially with this media center!

My father would have particularly liked the building we’re standing in today as he was extremely passionate about technology, art, and of course, teaching. This dedication is a such a tremendous honor, especially since this building encompasses so much of what he enjoyed doing in life, and what he enthusiastically shared with students and friends.

Now, a little bit about the history about my father.  Many of you knew him well, so I’ll try to share some surprises even to long-time friends.  Also... since we are in a media center, I feel compelled to use a PowerPoint presentation.  

Let’s start at the very beginning. My father was born in the gorgeous Azorean island of Graciosa in 1942.
When he was 7 years old, he started drawing and sketching portraits.  Since there were no art supplies anywhere on the island, he would have to make his own from scratch.

It was clear he had an artistic touch even as a child. He was entirely self taught, and had a gift of capturing what he saw in the real world on paper.

I know what you’re thinking since we’re getting into October, but this is actually not a Halloween costume.  He was recruited into a prestigious seminary program at age 12, and was ordained a roman catholic priest by the time he was 24. For the next decade he was a professor at the University in Sao Miguel while also celebrating mass at various churches in the Azores.

Perhaps this was the portion of his life is where he decided that he would always put the needs of other people before his own.

In the meantime, his love for art continued to grow and he quickly became well known for his talents. His religious artworks were featured in multiple publications and some of them are still used to this day.

Before I mentioned he was passionate about technology. He was actually one of the early catalysts for bringing technology to the church in the Azores, which isn’t an organization you would think to be on the bleeding edge of technology.  In fact he was one of, if not the first priests to do a televised mass in the region.  His objective behind this was to reach out to the elderly and sick that couldn’t make into a physical church. If he was still a priest today, there’s no doubt he would be streaming masses on Youtube by now.

In 1978, he decided to leave the clergy and immigrate to the US.  The details here are a bit fuzzy.

In 1981, he married my mother at Five Wounds Portuguese National Church, right down the street from here, and settled down in the greatest city in the world, San Jose of course.

Coming from a position where he was helping people on a daily basis, he wanted a job where he could continue to have a substantial impact on people’s lives, and benefit the community.  What better position is there for that than becoming a teacher?  He received his credentials in 1981 from the University of Hayward and began teaching at Anne Darling. As you can see, the kids loved him!

It also became clear that he brought along all of the talents he utilized in Portugal after immigrating here, and even expanded upon his skills. He was capable of tremendous works of art, such as this photo-realistic painting of Graciosa.

He even became an accomplished photographer and videographer.  His cameras usually came in 2 sizes, large and ridiculously large.  That’s one of the small ones.  

I had a hard time finding this photo, because he was always the man behind the camera. Even when we would go to a wedding, he would almost always volunteer to do the videography.  That was just the type of person he was.

He brought along his interest in technology as well, but Silicon Valley afforded him many more resources than the Azores. Back when most people were using typewriters, he was publishing newsletters using first generation Macs. Before anyone knew what a digital camera or a scanner was, we was already taking advantage of digital tools for artwork. Here is an example of pixel art he did for Five Wounds Portuguese National Church that was used for decades. For those of you unfamiliar with pixel art, he basically drew this one black dot at a time.  No digital cameras in 1989.

On April 17th, 1993, he had a formal exhibition in Napa featuring many of his drawings, paintings, and photos.  It was an truly memorable occasion to see much of his work in a single room.  You can find most of the originals throughout California, Toronto, and Portugal.

In the short time he had here, he received many awards and accolades. In 1985 he received his Master’s Degree in Technology Education from San Jose State with high honors.

He received the Outstanding Research Award from The School of Education at San Jose State.

The Richard B. Lewis Memorial Award.

The 1992/1993 James W. Brown Award for Outstanding Professional Contributions.

He was nominated for Teacher of the Year two consecutive years in a row, winning the second nomination.  

He received the Educator of the Year Award in 1992 by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.

And he received the Portuguese Communities Silver Medal of Merit by the Portuguese Government

However, out of all his many accomplishments and distinctions, I think he will be remembered most for the love friendship he provided to others. He really cared about people and was enthusiastic about making all those around him smile... literally.

This is one of his most famous photos, which was widely published and I think perfectly exemplifies the type of person he was. One day he was in the hospital and saw a child crying. He went up to the child and persistently tried to cheer him up.  He continued to tell jokes and entertain the kid until finally, after maybe 15 minutes, he finally cracked a smile!

Those are the moments he lived for. His purpose in life, was spreading happiness to all those around him. Whether it was his family, friends, parishioners, students, co-workers, or completely random people off the street... he did everything he could to bring them happiness. Even when he was sick with cancer, he would go out of his way to entertain the nurses and doctors.

And while my father passed away almost 17 years ago, his memory continues to live on through the lives of many.  Several times, people I don’t know have approached me on the street, saying “I knew your father, he was my favorite teacher.” Or when I’m in Portugal, “he was my favorite priest!”  I think it’s pretty incredible to be able to have that kind of lasting impact.

He was an amazing painter, photographer, videographer, director, musician, and an exceptional teacher. We’re all born with gifts and talents, but many people don’t fully utilize their potential... and even fewer people choose to share those gifts with the world.  He was a man fortunate to have started with many talents at his disposal, and he was able to utilize them all, and continue to grow and share them throughout his life.

In addition to these talents and skills he had many virtues as well.  He was compassionate, a great listener, enthusiastic, charismatic, and a great friend to all that knew him. He was always the first person to volunteer if you needed help, and the first person to offer his ear if you needed someone to talk to.

One of the most important things that I have learned from my father was that life is too short, you should give everything you can to all that you do. I’m extremely lucky to have such a great person as my father and role model.  He was a proud father and now I’m a proud son. Hopefully the students learning here will be inspired by his spirit and the legacy that he leaves behind. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for remembering him and honoring him with this dedication.

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