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Educator left his mark on Manteca families

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Educator left his mark on Manteca families

Bill Pinto


POSTED January 28, 2012 12:48 a.m.

Bill Pinto, Shasta Elementary School Principal of more than 33 years, has left a host of memories in a legacy that made a positive difference for countless Manteca children.

Pinto, 85, died last Friday, Feb. 20, after lingering health problems that wore him down over recent years.

Pinto leaves his wife Carolyn and three children, Mark, Gina and Jill along with six grandchildren and one seven-month-old great-grandson named for him.

Inducted into Manteca’s Hall of Fame in 2004 in Education,  he was lauded for his devotion to education resulting in a positive impact on children, teachers and parents. Pinto was perhaps one of the most respected and influential educators in the district, according to the citation.   He recognized the importance of developing future leaders, be it a student or teacher.  He was always a true advocate of the student and worked positively with parents and teachers to bring out the best in every child.

Shasta School secretary Sally Williams remembers well when she and Pinto opened the new Shasta Elementary School on Edison Street moving from Lindbergh School on North Street in June of 1966 where Pinto was principal. 

“We had only four days to move,” she said, “because summer school was scheduled to start on Friday.”

Pinto retired in June of 1987 and his secretary followed suit one year later in 1988.

Former Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Harold Hughes became Pinto’s boss in 1970 and told of a great relationship between the two of them that lasted into their retirements.

From his home in Midland, Texas, Hughes commented on his friend Friday afternoon saying, “I really admired him as an administrator and liked him as a person.  We exchanged Christmas cards every year and Bill would always add friendly comments.  He was not only a colleague from work but also a friend.”

Hughes noted that it had been a “double dose of bad news” for him this past week with Pinto’s passing and that of Alex Hildebrand.  He said that Hildebrand had been on the school board when he was hired as district superintendent – another person he greatly admired.

Retired principal of the rural Nile Garden School Bill Whiteside also savored working with Pinto from 1972 until 1985. 

“He was a true gentleman in every respect.  He was a mentor to me in my years as a principal and thereafter.  He was respected by his peers and by his students.  Bill was a great friend and a colleague who gave a lot to the fabric of the community,” Whiteside said.

Williams remembers the opening of Shasta as if it were yesterday.

 “The air conditioner did not work, but the heater did – oh, what fun,” she quipped.

Then, when the fall of 1966 came, around there was mud everywhere caused by rainy weather and no sidewalks.  Children even had to use a dirt foot path through a vineyard on Powers Avenue to get to school, she noted.

Williams said the school was “a family” and everyone did their part.  Classes were large and there were no aids to help the teachers and students and she was the only secretary in the office. 

“Bill could always be seen picking up trash.  He was known as Mr. Clean - he also did windows,” she laughed.

During Pinto’s World War II tour with the Navy in the Philippines, he was invited into the homes of the people where he taught English with those early students hoping to immigrate to America.  His wife Carolyn said this week that he became fond of the people and made the decision that he wanted to make teaching a career.

He enrolled at the College of the Pacific (COP) in Stockton when he returned home in 1946,  excited to be on the road to achieving a teaching degree – also becoming a yell leader at the school.  He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education in 1950 and earned a master’s degree in 1951.

Started as teacher at Lincoln School

Pinto first served as a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School and was elevated to become principal of Lindbergh Elementary in 1954.  Two years later he was given the assignment to open the new Shasta School and was given the opportunity to help plan the campus.

The Pinto family will long remember their summer vacations at Santa Cruz where Carolyn Pinto reminisced that they always had a “wonderful and memorable time.”  She would tuck away any extra cash every year so they would have that $500 they needed for their vacation – much less than it costs today for a two-week stay.

Pinto’s parents John Goes Pinto and Mary De Forte Pinto met after coming to the U.S. from the Azores in the mid-‘20s and neither spoke any English.  Pinto was born at Merritt Hospital in Oakland by a midwife – more customary than not at that time.

His dad was an “expert shoemaker” with his own shop but the family lost everything in the crash of 1929.  The family sold their house, car and shoe shop and moved to Manteca where a friend named John Mendosa lived.  They were able to buy a two-story home for $5,000 and his dad worked for a while in the Mendosa clothing shop.

Not knowing the English language made Pinto’s first kindergarten experience difficult at 4 years old in Oakland.  However, after moving to Manteca, he entered kindergarten at Lindbergh Elementary School on East North Street becoming a young teacher of the new language in his own right.

Family members said he would go home at night and teach his parents the English that he had learned at school that day.  Bill ended up skipping the fifth grade and graduated from Manteca High School in 1944.

Pinto along with his teen buddies Pete Fiore and Jim Jacobs pooled their money and bought a Ford jalopy with a rumble seat having what was described as “many exciting escapades.”  A favorite was loading up the car with friends and driving to their favorite irrigation ditch for an afternoon of swimming. 

Pinto was a founding member of the Manteca Historical Society and the Give Every Child a Chance Tutoring Program. It was in 1992 that he was inducted into the Manteca High School Hall of Fame in recognition of his longtime contributions to education in Manteca.

A memorial celebration of life will be held at the Pinto home at a future date in the spring, yet to be announced.  P.L. Fry Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.

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