San Rafael High School Alumni Association
San Rafael High School Alumni Association

                               2019 HALL OF HONOR

 

The San Rafael High School Alumni Association is proud to announce this year's inductees into the Hall of Honor. 

 

 

                   JESSIE DIFFLEY  (Posthumously)

                   Foreign Language Teacher,  1956 - 1983

 

                    LARRY LACK

                    Science Teacher and Coach,  1960 - 1997

 

 

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The Hall of Honor was established in 2009 to pay tribute to individuals who have made contributions to San Rafael High through various channels, including having had a positive impact on students; improved the quality of San Rafael High school; contributed time and energy to the betterment of San Rafael High; are a positive reflection on the school or have made a valuable contribution to society.

 

To be inducted into the Hall of Honor, individuals must be nominated and must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have had a positive impact on students
  • Improved the quality of San Rafael High School
  • Contributed time and energy to the betterment of San Rafael High School
  • Are a positive reflection on San Rafael High School
  • Made a valuable contribution to society

 

The nominations open each year in January. The committee reviewing nominations consists of San Rafael High School administration, alumni, and parents. The induction ceremony is in May. Nominees can be alumni, donors, volunteers, community members, staff, coaches (athletics, drama, extra-Curricular programs). Is there someone you would like to nominate? If so, check in January for the nomination form! Information is also sent to alumni via our annual newsletter and The San Rafael High School Alumni Association Facebook page.

 

For more information contact the Hall of Honor Chair:
Judy Colton, judybcolton@gmail.com

 

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Information on our 2019 inductees:

 

Jessie M. Diffley:                  Educator – Foreign Language

SRHS Years of Service: 1956 – 1983

 

Jessie Diffley grew up in Indian Orchard, MA. She graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1939 with a major in Spanish and a minor in music. In 1948 she received her Master’s degree from Mt. Holyoke College, MA in Spanish Literature. Jessie’s passion for life and strong personality of conviction and drive made her the icon she is so remembered for today.

 

Until 1941, Jessie worked as a typist/stenographer/code clerk at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. She married, Lieutenant Peter Diffley in 1943, continuing to live with her parents while he was stationed overseas with the 5th Army.  In 1949, in search of jobs, Jessie and her family sailed to Europe where she worked as a secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. The family remained there until 1952, visiting Spain several times.

 

Jessie’s educational career in San Rafael began at Dominican Upper School, in 1954, where she taught Spanish and French. Then in 1956 she began her career at San Rafael High School teaching both Spanish and French. During her 27 years at San Rafael High, Jessie also served as Foreign Language Department Chair and is credited with keeping the Spanish and French AP classes afloat during her last five years at SR. When not in the classroom she worked with students in the arts arena and directed several plays. One such was, “La Casa De Bernarda Alba.”  She loved to sing and had a contralto voice, which could also be heard in her college and church choir, and always enhanced a great story.  She also performed and supported the arts in her community.

 

Jessie was bigger than life and wherever she was or whatever she did, she was center stage.  When one thinks of Jessie they cannot help but talk of her, “Husky, expressive voice” that commanded respect and has been compared to that of Katherine Hepburn. She had a keen sense of style and loved to display her collection of sling back, peep-toe high heels. Her talents were many including sewing and knitting to make her own clothes and to dress “character dolls” for family and friends.

 

However, she is most remembered for the impact she made on students and her passion for life.

Students revered Jessie and have shared that, “Mrs. Diffley made us feel worthy. She brought out the best in each of her students by looking inside and touching their hearts.” “She was a teacher of life…her classes were intriguing and simply alive with energy and challenges…” “She was so good at walking the talk that when Senorita Diffley talked, students listened with an ear of respect.”  And finally, another student wrote, “I loved her, and loved the richness of the gifts she gave to me and her other students.”

 

Jessie remained married to Peter until 1963, but their daughter, Jessie Johanna, was their pride and joy. Jo lives today in Maryland and has wonderful memories of Jessie as her mother and as a teacher, as she too attended San Rafael High School, class of 1962.  Upon retiring in 1983, Jessie’s “joie de vivre and élan” continued allowing her to pursue other passions such as time on the golf course, sea cruising and working at the Variety Fair in Montecito Shopping Center. Jessie died in August 1991, but her legacy will live on forever in the hearts of all who knew and loved her.

 

 

Larry Lack:        Educator - Science Teacher and Coach

 SRHS Years of Service: 1960 – 1997

 

Larry Lack was born in Alameda, CA in 1938, but raised all over the U.S. during WWII, as his father was an Army Medical Officer.  He got his BA from San Jose State University in 1959 and MA from San Francisco State University in 1983.  His educational credentials include Marine, Biotech and Molecular Biology along with Education Administration. He started teaching Biology and Physiology, along with coaching the Boys Swim and JV Football teams at SRHS in 1960.  Larry’s commitment to education, both in and out of the classroom, are second to none.

 

Larry’s quest for expanding his depth of knowledge and the education of youth in the field of science has been ongoing throughout his career. Highlights include taking advantage of National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Defense Education Act (NDEA) grants to attend 14 Institutes of Higher Education, which included Cal, Stanford, and other top universities in California.

 

In the 1970s he is credited with:

  • Starting an ‘Easter Ecology Expedition’ taking students camping in the Mojave Desert to explore the adaptations of flora and fauna, which permitted them to survive in that harsh environment.
  • Starting a Marine Science course, which annually, took students on at least 6 coastal field trips.

In the 1980’s:

  • He was selected as a Mentor Teacher and annually conducted workshops in Models of Teaching for SRHS District Colleagues.

In the 1990’s:

  • He was as one of first two HS teachers in the Bay Area to incorporate Biotechnology into Biology curriculum, helped start the Bay Area Biotechnology Education Consortium and served on its BOD as Marin’s representative for 12 years.

 

Larry’s accomplishments in the field of sports equally rivaled those in the educational arena.  Highlights include:

  • In 1960, started the San Rafael Swim Club to provide a year-round swim program for HS swimmers. 
  • In 1964, boys won MCAL Swimming title for first time, and dominated MCAL swimming for next 5 years.
  • In1964 he started the SRHS Boys Wrestling program and Wrestling Club, which built SRHS into a League power by 1968, culminating in winning both the dual match and League Tournament titles in 1972.
  • In 1968 started an informal SRHS Girl’s Swim team, which led to the incorporation of Girl’s Interscholastic competition in the MCAL. 

 

Honors and special recognitions are equally impressive and include:

  • In 1988 named an Outstanding Biology Teacher for the State of California by Genentech.
  • In 1993 was named Marin County’s Educator of the Year.
  • In 2018 was inducted into the MCAL Athletic Hall of Fame as a Coach.

 

In 1998, after leaving the classroom, Larry spent 4 years as one of 8 Regional Directors for the state’s Science Professional Development agency. Then from 2002-08 he was the Secondary Science Student Teaching Supervisor for Dominican University’s teacher education program. 

 

Larry’s success in life can also be credited to his encouraging manner and tremendous ability to work with others. His willingness and patience in helping both students and staff alike, to succeed, are to be commended. He always has a smile followed by a positive attitude that there is nothing one can’t do as long as they are willing to put in the time to succeed. As a former colleague of Larry’s I got to experience and observe this first hand. He is a problem solver and believes, “The glass is half full.” Larry’s passion for life and positive attitude make him that superlative teacher, mentor and coach. He is respected by generations of students and colleagues, and is clearly deserving of this honor.

 

Continuing to reside in Novato, upon retiring Larry has spent the past 20 years pursuing one of his passions as a Fly Fishing Guide/Instructor, and spending time with his wonderful family. Married in 1961 to his wife Kathleen, they have a family of four, all extremely accomplished. Daughter Lori, a concert pianist who works as the principal accompanist in the Stanford School of Music, son Landon, West Point grad who is CEO of his own medical import company in Beijing, China, daughter Leslie, successful artist like her mom who is an equestrian instructor on her ranch north of Reno, and son Lindsey, Stanford grad who worked for the NSA for a decade and now works for an internet security firm. 

 

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Information on our 2018 inductees:

 

Marie Bradley:   Secretary – Assistant Principals and Athletic Director

SRHS Years of Service: 1960 - 1986 

 

Marie Bradley spent 26 years at San Rafael High as the Secretary to the Assistant Principals and Athletic Director. Marie considered San Rafael her family as it was more than a job. She got along well with and knew everyone, as she was at the hub of all activity.  When asked what she is most proud of Marie said that, “Kids asked for advice…I had a lot of fun with the kids, didn’t have to teach them anything except respect…I treated the kids as I wanted someone to treat my children.” She continued, “I had fun, it was a fun job…I was a friend to all.”

 

Others describe Marie as supportive, dependable, trustworthy and simply a good person who created a welcoming environment for all. “She always had a smile and if you needed something, Marie was the one to ask.” She was truly an asset to the school!

 

Marie proudly recalls using the typewriter, and maintaining the mimeograph machine and many of the other, now antiquated machinery. Computers were first introduced to the school the year after she left. When not in the office one might find Marie outside supporting boys and girls athletics. She spent a lot of time working with Coach Muster and his football program. She also gave time and support to baseball, softball, basketball and wrestling. Being with kids was what most inspired Marie.

 

Upon retiring Marie volunteered for 21 ½ years at the Petaluma Valley Hospital Auxiliary, and also spent time volunteering for Petaluma Hospice.  She loved traveling with her husband, Paul, who died in 1992. 

 

Marie Bradley grew up in Mill Valley and graduated from Tamalpais High.

Marie has four children, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Her husband Paul was a graduate of SRHS Class of 1936, and in a few years two of her great grandchildren will start SRHS. Marie currently lives in Rohnert Park and was happy to share that she just celebrated her 92nd birthday, the day she was chosen for this honor.

 

 

John C. Curtin:       Educator – Social Studies & History

SRHS Years of Service: 1957 – 1967

 

John (Jack) Curtin, an only child, grew up in Fulton, New York until age 14 when he and his mom moved to San Francisco.  He attended St Joseph’s Military Academy in Fulton NY for elementary school, and attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School. He got his BA at San Francisco State, graduating in 1956, and continued for a 5th year to obtain his teaching credential, and he earned his PhD.  at UC Berkeley in 1970. 

 

Jack spent 10 years at San Rafael High in the Social Studies Department. There he taught Social Studies/World History, US History, Philosophy, and Government. He was also the department chair and was known as one of the instruments of change at San Rafael. 

 

Jack had tremendous impact on his students.  As stated in his nomination, “From the moment the bell rang until the last second of his class, students were captivated by his unbelievable ability to make learning fun, which was enhanced by Jack’s sense of theatrics.“  “He was the first teacher that instilled in me the love of learning, and that not all history and ideas are perfect.”  Jack was also known for taking a personal interest in his students. He employed the Socratic method in getting his students to look beyond rote dates, places and events, and to understand why things did or did not happen.

  

His passion for teaching reached far. While at SRHS he also taught Freshman Sociology classes at College of Marin. He left SRHS to accept a position at San Francisco State College teaching Social Science. The Ford Foundation hired him away from College of Marin to teach at San Quentin State Prison where he taught college level Sociology to the inmates. He started the Criminal Justice Program in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at SF State University where he served for many years as Dean. He taught both undergrad and graduate level courses, and he authored three books.

 

Jack currently lives in Novato with his second wife Shay. His two daughters also attended SRHS, as did two of his three grandchildren. Today he spends most of his time reading, listening to music and watching old movies.

 

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Information on our 2017 inductees:

Allan S. Barahal
The Longshoreman Teacher, SRHS Years of Service: 1960-1979

 

Allan Barahal was a history, government, humanities and philosophy teacher with the San Rafael City Schools for 21 years, 19 of which were at San Rafael High School, and two at Madrone. He is an example of an educator who successfully intertwined his life experiences with that of his teaching to give students a more enriched understanding of the world they would enter as adults. Allan’s daughter, Rachel, best describes her father as, “Engaging and charismatic, my dad brought his history, philosophy and humanities classes to life. His concern for every student’s future and his dedication to teaching made ‘Uncle Al’ one of San Rafael High’s most beloved teachers.”

 

Allan, born in 1920 in Toledo, Ohio, the first and only son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, grew up during the Great Depression in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Wayne State University, in 1940, with a BA in history and attended graduate school at Harvard University.  WWII changed Allan’s plans! He joined the Merchant Marines and worked the ships form 1942-1945, sailing all over the world. After the war Allan met his wife, Anabel, in 1946. When entering a Detroit, Michigan hotel for a pre-arranged wedding celebration their witness, an African American, was denied admittance. They stormed out and as a result they led the way, along with the National Maritime Union, in picketing the restaurant non-stop until the restaurant finally gave in. This action led to the breaking of the color line at all hotels and restaurants in Detroit. Allan and Anabel later settled in San Francisco where Allan worked at Simons Mattress factory and joined the ILWU to become a Longshoreman and warehouseman on the San Francisco docks. In 1960 he left the docks and got his teaching credential from U.C. Berkeley. His life’s experience became an integral part of his teaching, and his many student followers remember his passion for helping others and standing up for what he believed was not right in the world. Allan has referred to himself as the, “The Longshoreman Teacher,” as this is how many of his students remember him.  His lessons were alive with the passion and zest he has for life and helping others. One student described Allan as, “A rare teacher who opened his door to students, all students, not just those formally in his classes.” “His room felt like a safe place, a place for discussion, conversation, and a place to build the friendships so important during teenage years. His wit, his humor and also his wisdom shone for all of us.” He remains today as a very well respected and admired teacher.

 

Allan has two adult children, Jed and Rachel, who are graduates of San Rafael High School. He currently lives in Ukiah, CA with his wife, Anabel, of 71 years.

 

 

Ed Cunningham
Teacher of English & Latin, SRHS Years of Service: 1962 – 1996

 

Ed Cunningham walked the halls of San Rafael High School for 34 years.  While he mainly taught English at all grade levels and ability levels, other assignments included Latin, Physical Education, and Humanities/Philosophy. His commitment to students was at the core of all he did, and his legacy is respected to this day.

 

Ed graduated from Gonzaga University in 1959 with a B.A. in philosophy and a minor in classics.  He went on to receive his M.A. in English from Dominican in 1966.  He was awarded an NDEA summer grant to study and design Advanced Placement (AP) English program, which he subsequently introduced into the district’s high school curriculum. Over the years, Ed’s desire to continue to expand his depth of knowledge in education led him to participate in several study and collaborative programs. This included: Spending a half-year sabbatical studying elective English programs in California and England; In the 1970s in collaboration with other teachers, including Allan Barahal, he helped to establish NEXUS, a school-within-a-school for juniors and seniors from San Rafael and Terra Linda High Schools; On a summer Fulbright he studied in Rome and Naples; And a National Endowment Award Grant took him back to London where he mainly studied Charles Dickens and the Illustrated Novel.

 

Ed was passionate about his teaching and working with his students to ensure they succeeded. One student struggling to deal with personal challenges at home, flunking English, and pretty much giving up, describes how Mr. Cunningham worked with her to pass his class.  She states, “He gave me hope that I could climb back to a place of academic success in English and in general.” Thanks to his encouragement and support, this student went on to graduate from U.C. Berkeley and later earning an MBA and realizing her own company.

 

Ed was also actively involved, professionally, outside of the classroom. This included member of: The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), The National Council of Teachers for English (NCTE), National Council of Teacher of English (CATE), the Central California Council of Teachers of English (CCCTE), and the Curriculum Commission that plans the annual Asilomar Conference for English teachers.  

 

Since retiring Ed has worked for more than five years at San Quentin State Prison, and for seven years at St. Anselm Grammar School, teaching 7th & 8th Grade Religion. In 1999, he was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Church, and he presently serves at St. Anselm Church.  

 

This August, Ed and his wife, Catherine, will have been married for 55 years.  They continue to live in San Anselmo where they raised their two daughters, Teresa and Carol, and can now boast they have five grandchildren. 

 

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2019 honorees were Jessie M. Diffley, (Posthumously), Maestra Increible, 1956-1983 and Larry Lack, Science Teacher and Coach, 1960-1997

 

2018 honorees were Marie Bradley, Secetary - Assistant Principals & Athletic Director 1960 - 1986 and John C. Curtin, Educator - Social Studies & History 1957 - 1967

 

2017 honorees were Allan Barahal, The Longshoreman Teacher 1960-1979 and Ed Cunningham Teacher-English & Latin 1962-1996

 

2016 honorees were Beverley Tanem, Teacher and Volunteer 1971-Present and Tom Untermann, Alumni-Class of 1965, and Supporter 1965-Present

2015 honorees were Robert Carrasco, Spanish Teacher and Friend 1961-1990 and MarieGoff-Tuttle, French Teacher and Mentor 1971-1999 and Robert Muster, Physical Education Teacher and Football Coach 1958-1989

2014 honorees were Sue-Ann Joy, Teacher, Guidance Counselor & Volunteer 1968-Present and posthumously, Rebecca (Becky) Mangiardi, Library Clerk & Student Mentor 2000-2010

2013 honorees were Natu Tualagaloa, Class of 1984 and Bill Monte, Class of 1957.

2012 honorees were Patti Garbarino (Class of '73) and posthumously, Paul Miller (Athletic Director '32-'57 and Math Department '57-'73).

Other past honorees have included Angelo Colombo, Hugo Rinaldi, Rich and Dolly Nave and Terry Summa, Mario Ghilotti and Byron Jones.

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SRHS Established in 1888 - the oldest high school serving Marin County