When Dave Breitenbucher told his dad he was running for a seat on the Manteca City Council his father Don didn’t hesitate to share his thoughts.
“What the hell are you thinking?” Breitenbucher noted were his dad’s first words.
But after a few minutes his dad made it clear: Whatever help his son needed for him to win he’d do it.
“He was all in,” Breitenbucher said.
It’s not that the elder Breitenbucher was a newbie to campaigning. He served as a campaign manager for Adrian Fondse who represented San Joaquin County in the California Assembly in the 1970s.
Breitenbucher was the top vote-getter in the race for two council seats in the Nov. 6 election. He was selected to serve as vice mayor after taking the oath of office last Tuesday. He is one of three new members. The others are Councilman Jose Nuno and Mayor Ben Cantu.
Family is important to Breitenbucher. And so is Manteca.
21 years as Sierra
High swimming coach
It’s his mother Sandra that opened up the world of swimming that has ended up being a lifelong passion for Breitenbucher who is now in his 21st year of coaching the sport at Sierra High and in his 11th year as head coach for the Timberwolves. Before that he was an assistant swim coach for eight years at Manteca High and served 3½ years as a Delta Valley Aquatics swim coach. He is currently involved with the Ellis Aquatics Swim Club in Tracy where he is a master swimmer and a coach as well.
“My mom got me hooked on swimming,” the 56-year-old Breitenbucher recalled. “I didn’t want to swim.”
Breitenbucher as a 9-year-old at the time was all about football and other sports such as baseball.
But once he hit the water, he fell in love with swimming. He started swimming for the Manteca Dolphins and ended up spending nine years competing for the Manteca Parks and Recreation team. He didn’t swim in high school because just as he was beginning his freshmen year, the Manteca Unified School Board eliminated swimming due to budget cuts triggered by passage of Proposition 13.
He zeroed in on the butterfly as his specialty stroke. After graduating from Manteca High in 1980 he went to Delta College where he swam competitively for the Mustangs.
“When I’m swimming in the water, everything goes away,” Breitenbucher said. “I get lost in my thoughts.”
He noted besides being a stress reliever swimming has the added bonus of being solid exercise.
Among his Dolphins coaches were Diane Stellhorn, Don Cabral, and Allan Rice. He noted that when he played recreation flag football as a youngster Willie Weatherford — who went on to serve as Manteca’s police chief and then 12 years as a directly elected mayor — was his coach.
Playing for the Manteca Cowboys he was coached by the legendary Frank Guinta.
“I have a lot of admiration for Frank,” Breitenbucher said of the now deceased businessman that endless men who played on his teams as a boy credit him for instilling a strong sense of work ethic, sportsmanship, and helping others. Guinta, who owned a series of gas stations around Manteca as well as several restaurants before turning the food concession and restaurant at the golf course around, also provided a number of teen boys their first jobs.
“I would have probably ended up working for Frank if my dad didn’t own a tire shop,” Breitenbucher said.
Much of Breitenbucher’s
life spent within a mile
radius of hospital where
he came into the world
His father owned a tire shop at Garfield Avenue and Moffat Boulevard where Precision Automotive is now located adjacent to the Manteca High campus.
He remembered dropping by there after school on his 15th birthday. When he saw that his father was busy with a large number of customers he asked if he needed help. The answer was “yes” and Breitenbucher put down his books and ended up starting a job that would last for 10 years.
Prior to that, he had helped out during the summer at the tire shop.
The 1980 Manteca High graduate played tight end for four years for the Buffaloes football team. He also served as the student council director of athletics his senior year where one of his projects was overseeing the dedication of the school gym to Dr. Robert Winter. Breitenbucher noted he finished up the work on the gym dedication that Keith Jackson started the previous year when he was the student athletic commissioner.
Breitenbucher was the fourth baby born at Manteca Hospital that is now Doctors Hospital of Manteca and the medical facility’s 100th overall patient,
He has spent most of his life within a one mile radius of the hospital where he came into the world.
*his family’s first Manteca home that was among the 1,000-quare-foot and smaller houses built on Fir Street to the west of the hospital.
*his family’s second Manteca home in the Magna Terra neighborhood immediately north and east of the hospital that the late Antone Raymus built and named the streets after American astronauts. It is while living there when Manga Terra still had a community pool that his mother got him hooked on swimming.
*his current home in Powers Tract sandwiched between Manteca High and Spreckels Park. It is the same house Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu first lived in when his family moved to Manteca.
*working at his dad’s tire shop as well as attending Manteca
High and swimming at Lincoln Park swimming pool.
*manning an engine at the Powers Avenue fire station where he spent much of his 30-year career before retiring as a fire captain. He also served for 2½ years as a reserve firefighter.
“Growing up as a kid you went everywhere on a bicycle,” Breitenbucher recalled. “My mom would give me $20 and a grocery list and I’d pedal to New Deal (on South Main where the Hospice thrift store and Kelly-Moore Paints are now located) on my 10-speed and carry a bag of groceries in one arm on the way home.”
He credits his uncle Dave Cameron — who served with the San Leandro Fire Department — for sparking his interest in a career as a firefighter.
When Breitenbucher was first hired as a Manteca firefighter, the city’s engines were still running two-man crews. They are all now staffed with three-man crews.
“I remember swimming at Lincoln Pool and watching the fire engines pull out (of the Powers Avenue station) with red lights and siren on going to an emergency,” Breitenbucher said.
His son Christopher is a recreation coordinator for the City of Manteca while son Kenji is currently studying at San Francisco State University. Breitenbucher has a sister, Lynn.
“As I said before, we have some big shoes to fill on the council,” Breitenbucher said. “They put the city in a good spot.”
Breitenbucher had been serving as a Manteca Parks and Recreation Commission member before his election.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com