It had been years since Donna Anderson (Dalben) had been back to Manteca to see how much the area that was such a big part of her youth had grown.
And on Tuesday night, Anderson (Dalben) – now a resident of Placer County – got the opportunity to not only do just that, but also take a stroll down memory lane during a special ceremony at East Union High School honoring her late father, Peter Dalben, for whom the school’s gymnasium was built.
It was only fitting that the ceremony took place at halftime of the basketball game between the Lancers and the Lathrop Spartans – a school that was never even close to existing during her father’s time on the various school boards that oversaw education in Lathrop and French Camp.
“It’s really good to see Lathrop High School playing tonight – that’s something that my father would have loved to see,” Anderson (Dalben) said following the brief ceremony where she and brother Gilbert were presented with a certificate. “It’s definitely a trip down memory lane to be back here and to see how much this place has changed.
“I haven’t been down Main Street yet, but I’m sure that there’s more than one stoplight like how I remember it.”
Peter Dalben – who was inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame – served on school boards that oversaw area education institutions for almost three decades. H
Dalben served on the French Camp Elementary School board from 1952 to 1966 and was clerk and president for most of those years. From 1961 to 1963 he also served on the Manteca Union High School District board. Then from 1965 to 1975 he served on the Manteca Unified School District board including at least two terms as president.
He was a member of the French Camp-McKinley Rural Fire Protection board and served four years as board president. Dalben also served on the French Camp Municipal Advisory Council in 1981-1982.
Dalben worked for 24 years as a public works shop division director at Rough and Ready island in Stockton. At one time he supervised more than 200 employees including those assigned to government bases in Dixon and at Mt. Diablo. He worked for 38 years as a government employee.
Dalben served three years as the French Camp 4-H Club electrical leader. He was one of the founders of the Twin Cities Little League in 1967 and served on the board for three years.
While he passed away in 1990, Anderson (Dalben) said that the gymnasium lives on as a testament to his dedication to the youth of the area – a project that he personally made sure was going to be the best regardless of what that entailed.
“He actually showed up during construction and talked to some of the guys and wanted to know how much more it would have cost to make it even larger,” Gilbert Dalben said. “They told him $40,000, and he found a way to make sure that money was raised so that East Union High School had the biggest gymnasium.
“He wanted to make sure that it was full-sized, and that’s exactly what he did.”
The idea for Tuesday’s ceremony has been planned since school officials had a meeting with the family in November to discuss their feelings towards an effort to name the court after longtime East Union boys basketball coach and athletic director Bill Stricker. An online petition at Change.org was set up to raise awareness of the effort by Ryan Lagomarsino and has since gathered 295 signatures.
According to Anderson (Dalben) the family requested that the naming remain as is with no additions.
Stricker, who was involved with East Union High School for more than 40 years, was inducted in the Manteca Sports Heroes Hall of Distinction.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.