San Juan High School Faculty – Obituaries

Robert Glenn CORNWELL, Sr. – April 5, 1926 to December 21, 2013 – Raised in the village of Wabasha, Minnesota, Bob grew up navigating the Mississippi River and exploring its sloughs. In summer he and his friends boated and fished, skated and built bonfires on the ice in winter. His own father died when Bob was only 10, a trauma which colored the rest of his life. At that young age he was thrust into the role of ‘the man of the house’ – a responsibility which weighed heavily on him.

Bob’s lifelong devotion to education started serendipitously. A laboring job on the Milwaukee Railroad and the urging of his late father’s business partner sent him to the Hamline University admission’s office just days before 1944 fall classes began. On the railroad his nickname had been ‘Lean To’ because he sometimes leaned against the signal poles rather than putting his shoulder to the shovel handle. His boss told Bob he had no future on the railroad. He was right!

Bob’s worldview was shaped by liberal Hamline professors and the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. During the Depression, he listened to FDR’s ‘fireside chats.’ Despite coming from a long line of Republicans, Bob never wavered in his Democrat loyalties (excepting the candidacy of Socialist Norman Thomas in 1948), serving as a delegate to both state and national conventions. Read more about Bob… 

Medric Linder “Mr Linder” (Mick) May 21, 1921 – January 21, 2015 LINDER, Irene “Drene” June 25, 1924 – January 15, 2015 Officially, he was Medric and she was Irene. But everyone knew them as Mick and Drene, except for their students, who knew them as Mr. Linder and Mrs. Linder. Mick was at San Juan High School for about 22 years, teaching science, chemistry, and physics. Drene was at Barrett for about 27 years, both while it was K-8th grade as well as after it became junior high only. She taught “core” (English and history) at the 7th and 8th grade levels, and related courses such as typing and creative writing. Mick (Medric I. Linder) was born in Bayard, Nebraska on May 21, 1921. His family moved to California when he was young, where they lived at various times both in the Palo Alto and Sacramento areas. He was a star quarterback on the Palo Alto football team, and got a football scholarship to attend Stanford University. WWII intervened before Mick had a chance to take the field for Stanford. He became a pilot in the Army Air Corps, flew reconnaissance in both WWII and the Korean War, and retired from the Army reserves in 1981. Drene (Irene M. Davis) was born in Tobar, Nevada on June 25, 1924. Both her parents and grandparents homesteaded there, but were able to make a go of it for only a few years. The Davis family returned to Wells, Nevada. She graduated from Wells High School and got her teaching credential at what is now Northern Colorado University in Greeley, Colorado. She married after WWII ended, had two daughters, Kathy (Kathleen) and Gini (Virginia), and later divorced. She was raising her girls by herself (with the help of her parents) when she and Mick began dating. Mick and Drene met in Greeley in 1959. Both were teachers and both had recently earned master’s degrees. Kathy and Gini have fond memories of Mick and Drene hand-in-hand throughout their courtship. They married on August 14, 1959. The family moved to Carmichael, California in time for Mick and Drene to get teaching jobs before the 1959-60 school year began. One reason for the move was that teaching jobs were plentiful and the pay was good. The other reason — the driving one — was to be near Mick’s cabin in the high elevations of South Lake Tahoe, which was the place he loved most. Mick and Drene loved social activities of all kinds. They went dancing. They played bridge. He became active in Rotary (then a men-only organization) and she became active in Inner Wheel (the women’s adjunct organization, which made the men in Rotary successful). For them, even Rotary was a “couple’s” activity. The cabin was a focal point of many of their family activities. After both retired, they lived there full time for several summers. Eventually, they moved to Reno, which made for an easier trek to the cabin. They lived in Reno until 2010, when they moved to live near their daughter Gini, in Salem, Oregon. Mick and Drene both died in Salem in January 2015, five and a half days apart. Mick was 93. Drene was 90. Neither had any condition that seemed immediately life threatening, but both were facing the inevitable declines and challenges of their ages. Drene was hospitalized unexpectedly with pneumonia and passed a few days later, on January 15, 2015. Mick unexpectedly and precipitously declined at the same time, and he passed a little more than five days after Drene, on January 21, 2015. They danced through life hand-in-hand and danced out the same way. They are survived by daughter Kathy Moore-Johnson, her husband Greg Johnson, grandson Joshua Moore, granddaughter Jennifer Butson and her husband Brian Butson, and great granddaughters Parker and Finley Butson. Before their deaths, Mick and Drene both learned they would be great grandparents again this August. They are also survived by daughter Gini and her long-time partner (now spouse) of 28 years, Colleen Sealock. Mick and Drene were loving parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. And they were equally devoted to the many granddogs they have had through the years, and their own most recent beloved dog, Fritz. There are no public services. Family and friends will gather this summer at their cabin above South Lake Tahoe to share memories and to continue to hold Mick and Drene in their hearts. Anyone who knew them and who would like to contact the family may write them in care of Virginia Linder, 1163 State St., Salem, OR 97301. Published in The Sacramento Bee on Feb. 1, 2015.  Read more at the Sacramento Bee Legacy.

Richard “Dick” Pierucci – Former teacher and coach – passed away peacefully at home with loving care on May 30, from complications of lung cancer. Richard was born on January 6, 1929 in Sacramento. At a young age the family moved across the river to Broderick where many other Immigrant families of Italian Heritage were settling. He graduated from Woodland High School in 1947 where he excelled in athletics and student leadership. He continued his education at Sacramento Junior College and Sacramento State earning a bachelor and masters degrees in physical education and health. In 1952, beginning at San Juan High School as a teacher and coach, Richard embarked on a 41 year career In education. His teams soon became very successful winning championships in football, baseball, and wrestling. Richard was fortunate to be selected to coach in three high school all-star games. The most noteworthy was, as a 28 year old, being selected in 1957 as one of the two coaches to coach the North squad in the annual North/South Shrine Football Classic in the LA Coliseum. In 1960, he accepted a position at Sacramento City College to teach, be the assistant football coach, and the head baseball coach. In his only year as baseball coach, the 1961 team won the championship. In the fall of 1961, Richard became the head football coach and continued his success winning multiple championships and bowl games. In 1962, his duties increased with the appointment as Director of Athletics. Richard retired from coaching in 1969, and concentrated on his expanding administrative duties. He was always a coach at heart. Richard was also a well respected high school and college wrestling official for 25 years. He retired in 1993 after leading the department at SCC for 31 years. He was known as a strong, dedicated, loyal and charismatic leader who was known to get a “little excited” at times. Richard was a recipient of five hall of fame inductions. He was a past president and member of the Dante Club for over 40 years, a member of Sacramento Elks #6 Lodge, a long time board member of the National Football Foundation, Sacramento Chapter and very involved in the Over the Hill Gang. Throughout his life, Richard enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golfing. He and his wife Pat spent time traveling and golfing throughout Northern California. Richard was a fan of watching the various sporting events of his grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father Joseph (who passed away when Richard was 8), mother Ida, stepfather Fred Botteri, and brothers Marino and Ernie. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Pat, son Richard Jr. (Nancy), daughter Terry Gonzalez (Chris), son David, sister Diane Garcia, 8 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. He will be greatly missed. As per Richard’s request there will be a private family service. Published in The Sacramento Bee on June 4, 2016.

Helen Martello – Former PE teacher 1950’s-1960’s was born July 15, 1930 in Riverhead, N.Y. and passed away April 24, 2016 in Folsom, California. Survived by her son Carl (Elaine), daughter Dawn Lewis (Dave), grandson Andrew Martello, granddaughters Amanda Torres (Armando), Holly Brochard (Jonathan), Kristina Lewis (Ben) and sister Caroline Teller. She is also survived by many nephews, nieces, cousins and friends in New York, Colorado, Virginia, Florida, Maine and California. Interment will be private. Please no flowers, instead make a donation to a charity of your choice . A Memorial Service will be held on Monday, May 9, 2016 at 11:00 AM at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 8720 Florin Road, Sacramento, CA Published in The Sacramento Bee on May 8, 2016. 

Robert “Bob” Wegsteen retired San Juan Unified School District Administrator Bob Wegsteen passed away on January 6, 2015 at the age of 60 at his home with his loving family by his side. Born in Eugene, OR to George and Ruth Wegsteen, he moved to Sacramento, CA and was a proud graduate of El Camino High School Class of 1972. Bob married the love of his life Debi on January 16, 1976 and was the proud father of two sons, Jon and Michael. Bob loved teaching, coaching, and mentoring teachers. He began his 32-year career in the San Juan Unified School district as a teacher and coach in 1979. He then moved into High School Administration in 1988. Bob was an avid golfer, do-it-yourselfer, and most importantly enjoyed hosting gatherings with family and friends in his own backyard. He will be forever remembered by his wife Debi, sons Jon and Mike, daughters-in-law Jolene and Lisa, sisters Janet Jory (Hugh), Betty Oas, and Mary Ann Flanders (Rich). As the proud Papa of Jackson, Adam, Jacob, and Mia, he will be remembered for building campfires and eating s’mores with his grandkids. Our sincere gratitude to the Roseville Kaiser Oncology staff and Kaiser Hospice for their caring support. He was a fighter and warrior in his battle against cancer. In lieu of flowers, memorials in his memory can be made to American Cancer Society 1545 Riverpark Dr. #100, Sacramento, CA 95815. Friends are invited to join the family for a Celebration of Bob’s Life at Mount Vernon Memorial Park, 8201 Greenback Ln., Fair Oaks, CA on January 19, 2015 at 2pm. Read more at the Sacramento Bee Legacy.