UNION CITY -- Guy Emanuele Jr., a highly regarded former New Haven Unified School District superintendent and Fremont school board member, has died, his family announced Monday. Emanuele, who had been battling complications from Parkinson's disease, died early Sunday. He was 83.
He led the district from 1976 to 1998, a crucial period of growth for Union City and New Haven Unified, officials said. He "found New Haven a district of bricks, and he left it a district of marble," said former Union City Mayor Mark Green. "He was the most important person in the school district's history."
Union City's Guy Emanuele Jr. Elementary School was named in his honor after he retired.
Emanuele was born in 1930 in Oil City, Pa., north of Pittsburgh, and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He began his teaching career in 1956 in the Decoto School District, one of three districts later incorporated into New Haven Unified.
After two decades as a teacher, counselor and administrator, he was hired as New Haven Unified's superintendent in 1976. The 11-year-old district had already had three superintendents by that time. Emanuele brought stability to the young district and quickly improved its culture, district leaders said.
He led the charge in building new schools, including an alternative high school, and voters showed their trust in him by passing three bond measures during his tenure.
New Haven Unified officials say he did much to create the district's legacy of excellence in the arts, athletics and other activities that kept students engaged in academics. Under Emanuele's leadership, James Logan High's marching band and forensics team earned national recognition, and its sports programs won numerous Mission Valley Athletic League titles.
"I'm really an old-fashioned guy," Emanuele told this newspaper in 2006. "(I want) to educate the whole man, not just in science and language, but in music and athletics. That is part of developing a positive character, a good character."
After retiring from New Haven Unified, Emanuele twice was elected to the Fremont school board, serving from December 1998 to January 2006.
"In just about every meeting I attend, people talk about the Guy Emanuele days," said Arlando Smith, New Haven Unified's interim co-superintendent and chief academic officer. "The man's legacy is embedded in the model of what the district should be and the way people should be treated."
Emanuele is survived by his wife, Kay Emanuele, of Fremont; daughters Rosalyn Reasor and Lisa Lockyer; sons Guy Emanuele III and Pete Emanuele; and eight grandchildren.
Private services will be held later this week. A public memorial is scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Jan. 23 at Logan High School's Guy Emanuele Jr. Pavilion, 1800 H St., Union City.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.