Pam Antinetti, a 15-year principal at Oakdale's Magnolia Elementary School and a member of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Education, died Friday after a battle with cancer. She was 66.
Family members and colleagues remembered her as a giving educator who held her teachers to high standards and pushed students to excel. Her workday didn't end when the bell rang, nor did she take a break on weekends.
"Teaching is not an 8-to-5 job," said her son, David Antinetti, an administrator at Thomas Downey High School. "It's something that becomes you, and when you asked her what she did, she said 'I am a teacher and I educate children.'
"If there was something she could do to help, she always would," he added.
Mrs. Antinetti began her teaching career at Curtis Creek Elementary School in Standard in 1965.
That's where she met her husband, Norm. They married in 1966 and soon became fixtures of Oakdale's education community.
Norm Antinetti retired as a longtime history teacher, basketball coach and athletic director at Oakdale High School. Mrs. Antinetti worked in Oakdale elementary and middle schools starting in 1967, capping her career by building Magnolia's reputation as a leading campus in the district.
"She created so many deep connections with people just naturally," said Marilyn Rockey, who worked at Magnolia before becoming principal at Modesto's El Vista Elementary School. Mrs. Antinetti "just had this loving, giving nature. She was empathetic to parents, to students, to teaching staff. Just because of her great feelings for people, you just wanted to do your best for her."
Mike Tozzi, chief administrator of Stanislaus County Superior Court, remembered meeting Mrs. Antinetti in 1999 when he first ran for a seat on the Oakdale school board.
"Magnolia was sort of the shining star of the district, and it was the shining star because of her leadership and her skills," he said.
They became colleagues on the school board when Mrs. Antinetti won her seat in 2007, a year after her retirement.
"We got to know her really well, and, of course, when she decided to run, we all kind of smiled and said, well, 'That's the way Pam gives back to her community.' "
David Antinetti said it was hard to miss his mother's enthusiasm for her work, which he said helped inspire him to pursue a career in education.
"I spent many a night in her classroom with her, even on weekends, even in summer," he remembered.
Tozzi said Mrs. Antinetti had not missed many school board meetings despite her illness. He said the school board will discuss how to fill her seat at an upcoming meeting. The term for her seat has about 21 months left.
Mrs. Antinetti is survived by husband Norm, children Amy and David Antinetti, three grandchildren, her mother and brother.
Burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Oakdale on Saturday at 1 p.m. A reception will follow at the Oakdale Community Center.
Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2366.