David Fontanilla was remembered by his Manteca High family.
A drive-thru celebration of his life was held Wednesday not too far from Winter Gym, where Fontanilla once coached freshmen boys’ hoops and was the scoreboard operator for both basketball and volleyball.
“We were very upset about his passing,” said Principal Frank Gonzales. “He was the nicest, friendliest teacher and cared about his students at MHS.”
Fontanilla lost his battle to cancer on Sept. 27. He continued to teach via Zoom up until his final days, according to his sister Leslie Fontanilla.
She’s the Academic Coach for Manteca Unified.
The special afternoon event was made possible by the MHS Leadership class under the direction of teacher Stephanie Hjelmstead.
It was a fitting way to provide closure to their beloved teacher.
“This was a chance for students to say goodbye and pay respect to the family,” she said.
Hjelmstead started at MHS about the same time as Fontanilla about 15 years ago. The drive-thru celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic was a fitting tribute for those to pay their respects and share favorite “Font” memories.
Leadership students Katelynn Gross, Hasmeet Sahi and Saphara Espinosa provided cards for drivers to Express their fond memories and condolences.
Some expressed their loss via posterboard and balloon messages, or dropped off flowers.
The family — included are sister Leslie and brothers Jimmy and Robert — were touched by the special moment, acknowledging the efforts of the Leadership class.
"You have helped us create more special memories that we will hold close to our hearts," the family posted on social media.
David Fontanilla, in addition, helped out with the school's Ukulele club and coached cross country along with golf in recent years.
His birthday is Dec. 14. For that, his family is planning a special memorial during that time, Leslie Fontanilla said.