Tony Agbayani, Jose Barron, Jim Brown, Dino Cunial and Richard Durham were inducted into the East Union Hall of Fame on Friday night at Dino Cunial Field before the varsity football game between East Union and Manteca.
Agbayani, student body president his senior year, graduated from East Union in 1974. A Lancer through and through, seven of his nine children graduated from East Union and two grandchildren are currently Lancers.
Agbayani is a Superior Court Judge and has worked for San Joaquin County over the past 35 years first as a Deputy District Attorney and then as a Superior Court Commissioner before becoming a judge. He was in private practice as an attorney in Manteca for 14 years.
“I am pretty excited and very proud,” Agbayani said. “Mainly because of the guys I am being inducted with. My old band director, Jose Barron; my old principal, Mr. Durham; my old teacher and coach Mr. Cunial and to be included with them is just a real honor.”
Agbayani won the prestigious East Union John Phillips Sousa Award in 1974 for achievement in band and his son was awarded the very same honor in 2016.
Barron worked at East Union for 33 years as band director, Student Activities Director and as an administrator. All three of Barron’s children graduated from East Union one of his sons followed in his footsteps and is currently a band director in Manteca Unified.
“It’s like I won the lottery,” Barron said. “It’s better than winning the lottery because I don’t have to make any public appearances.”
In 1998, Barron was voted Manteca Unified School District’s Secondary Teacher of the Year. He was inducted into the Manteca’s Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2006 he was inducted into Stockton’s Mexican American Hall of Fame. The East Union band room completed in 2002 is named Jose Barron Hall.
“I’m lucky to have the band room named after me,” Barron said. “I marvel at the idea they decided to pick me. I’m flabbergasted that out of the thousands of kids and hundreds of teachers that have been here, they decided they wanted to pick me.”
Representing the late Brown was his grandson, Ryan Brown. Coach Brown was a math teacher and football coach at East Union for 17 years and he coached the Lancers to Valley Oak League championships in 1981, 1982, and 1989, being voted VOL Coach of the Year in those seasons as well. In 2006, East Union named its weight room in Coach Brown’s honor, and in 2009, Coach Brown was inducted into the Manteca’s Hall of Fame.
“It’s a very special night for our family,” Ryan Brown said. “Especially for my grandmother. We are very honored and wish our grandfather could be here for it.”
Coach Brown embodied the edict, “Lancers Lead, Others Follow.” Football was more than a game to him. For him, football delivered student athletes life lessons such as conducting oneself well both on and off the field, and the importance of giving 110 percent, all day, every day.
Coach Brown’s widow, Jan, was appreciative of the honor.
“This is a great honor,” Jan Brown said. “Jim would have loved it. We are very honored and thankful that they thought about him.”
Cunial was one of the original teachers at East Union when the school opened its doors 52 years ago. He taught history for 34 years, and also served as Athletic Director. Cunial coached both football and basketball, and served as the Department Chair for the Social Science department. He was awarded the Manteca School District Secondary Teacher of the Year in 1989, and was also voted Athletic Director of the year for the Sac-Joaquin Section. He was also awarded the Bell Ringer award by the California Teachers Association in 2000.
“This kind of humbles you a little bit,” Cunial said. “Getting an honor for getting paid for what you do is kind of nice.”
According to Cunial, the most memorable moment for him as a Lancer was the day he was told that the football stadium at East Union was to be named in his honor.
“It’s really special that this is happening on this field,” Cunial said. “I come out and watch my grandson play on this field on Saturdays. It’s special.”
Durham was the principal of East Union 18 years, was President of the VOL three years, and was VOL commissioner for five years. Durham was part of the team of people that created and implemented East Union’s famous saying, “Lancers Lead, Others Follow.”
“I enjoyed my 18 years at East union High school,” Durham said. “Because I went to school every day with a smile on my face and I enjoyed what I was doing.
“I enjoyed the staff and my family was very supportive of me.”
The East Union cafeteria building is dedicated to Durham and Durham was dearly beloved by the teachers and staff who worked for him.