Saturday, December 04, 2010

Aloha and Farewell Mrs. V

Today the news came of the passing of a great lady - a great lady - a lady simply known to thousands of students at Radford High School in Honolulu, Hawaii as Mrs. V.   

It wasn't long after my arrival in Hawaii as a high school freshman that I met Mr. and Mrs. V, John and Barbara Velasco.  Mr. V was the head coach at one of the leading athletic champion public schools in the State of Hawaii, Radford in Honolulu.  Mrs. V was in charge of student activities.  Together they mentored thousands of young students navigating their way through adolescence.

In my senior year I got very involved in Student Council and student activities.  Along with two other classmates, Larry Wolfe and Rusty Vierra, we chaired the Assembly & Awards Committee and our advisor was Mrs. V.  Our committee won the Committee of the Year Award and while we worked very hard, we could not have done it without the steady and wise counsel of Mrs. V.  Through her efforts I was introduced to the world of politics and government as well as event planning - and she made it fun!  She was always solid, always grounded, always positive and kind and approachable.  But at the same time, there was this unspoken expectation that you never wanted to let her down.  You wanted to make her proud.  She was an inspiration and I admired and respected her.  She was the truthteller and she knew how to maintain discipline and focus, but she also laughed at our jokes and pranks - well, most of the time.

Today the news came that she had passed away and the first person I thought of was Mr. V.  Mr. V shepherded a remarkably diverse community of students from all walks of life, race, culture, and nationality.  He was fearless and was one of the few people who could silence a room with a mere look.  He was extraordinarily disciplined and led the Varsity football team to numerous championships, including my sophomore year.  He led the team again the year after I graduated - and won the state championship, but the story of that victory was one for the papers.

The week of the state championship, Mr. V suddenly was stricken with a heart attack and died.  It was so sudden and shocking and of course, it stunned the Radford community. Though filled with grief, the football team decided to go ahead and play in the championship and dedicated the game to Mr. V.   The public school team stood in a circle on the field and offered a prayer and then played their hearts out and won the game.

Mrs. V inspired generations of students and her inspiration continues to this day.  Thank you for your confidence in so many, for your firm direction with a gentle hand, for your warmth and faith - you made a difference in so many lives, Mrs. V - and you made a difference in my life.  Mahalo nui loa, Aloha ke Akua.


Nickie Goomba said...

Thank you for this gentle and touching reflection. Their goodness and dedication stand as an example to us all.

I've taken the liberty of reposting it at my site.

Again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Mahalo Mary for this wonderful tribute to two very special Mentors, teachers, Coach, Advisor, Counselors & Friends. Respectfully yours Joanne (Boren) Pontes Class of "80"

Anonymous said...

Mahalo Mary, for share the memory's of Mr. V and Mrs.V. They will always be the heart and soul of Radford Rams. They touch so many lives, including mine. RIP. Mr. and Mrs V
Kelli ( Britton ) Upton "83"

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mary - they were a wonderful couple. So many of the Radford teachers made such an impression on me, it's hard to believe I was only there for one year.

William P. Sulik, "77"

Anonymous said...

Thank you for expressing the thoughts of so many of us! They were indeed a wonderful couple that I was privileged to know and work very closely with...Blessings to her wonderful family...
Terri Freitas DaSilva
Class of '83