Richard Dean Panzica, 83, of Fremont, Calif., loving father and husband, passed away peacefully Jan. 1, 2016, after an extended illness.
A life celebration will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday in Los Cerritos Community Center, Fremont.
Richard was born Dec. 19, 1932, in Peru to Nick and Cecilia (Slimko) Panzica. The grandson of Polish and Italian immigrants, he had fond memories of his childhood in Illinois, growing up with his three siblings, attending Catholic school with his friends, and playing ball.
It was literally in the cornfields of Illinois where he was discovered and recruited to play baseball and football on a full scholarship for the University of New Mexico. He lettered in both sports and was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Honor.
After graduation, he joined the Air Force as a 2nd lieutenant and retired as a major. He served as a personnel officer in Japan. While there, he coached military baseball teams and was asked to coach the U.S. baseball team as a demonstration sport in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. It was an honor he turned down to help his then wife with their toddler and baby on the way.
He moved with his family to Hayward, Calif., where he began a 30-year distinguished career as an educator. He earned a master’s degree in education from San Jose State University and became a principal in the Hayward Unified School District. He retired in 1990. Richard was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed tennis and was recruited to play in the Filipino-American tennis league. He continued to enjoy these activities in his retirement, as well as traveling with his wife. He enjoyed having his home as a central gathering place for family.
Richard is survived by his beloved wife of 20 years, Nancy, and his cherished children, Valerie (Mike Brum) Klingler, Kimberly Panzica, Aubrey (Victor Nasarow) Simpson, Dean (Kathy) Panzica and Paula Panzica; eight grandchildren, Natalie, Austin, Arther, Lily, Garrett, Calvin, Beau and Hunter. He is also survived by Gene’s wife, Joan Panzica, his sisters, Cecilia Lardizabal and Janet Hyder; and his first wife, Beverly Eastman, the mother of his children; his brother-in-law Philo (Laura) Bemis and sister-in-law Tracy (James) Winkler; as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Nicholas “Gene”; and his grandson, Russell Klingler.