The people came to enjoy a weekend of everything Italian and they were not disappointed. From the sounds of accordions, the beautiful tenor voice of...
He has been referred to as a Renaissance man, a community leader, a man of conviction, a loyal champion of causes, and an all around great guy. While all these are accurate descriptions of Frank Fiscalini, I’m here to give you the story and let you be the judge.
Frank Fiscalini is a native Californian, raised in San Bernardino during the Great Depression. He served in the US Army during World War II. Following his return from service, he married his wife, Joan, in 1946. Shortly after, they moved to San Jose where Joan taught school and Frank received his B.S. degree from the University of Santa Clara in 1948 and his Masters degree from Stanford in 1950. Frank has four children, thirteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. You’d think that would be a large enough family to keep Frank busy but you would be wrong and here’s why.
He became a teacher at James Lick High School in 1950. He took him only six years to advance to Superintendent of the East Side Union High School District, remaining there from 1956-1982. Frank once said that, “He had the privilege of putting the district together.”
Because of his passion for education Frank wasn’t satisfied with just having a Masters degree. So in 1976, while he was still Superintendent, Frank received his Doctorate in Education Administration from the University of Northern Colorado.
During his tenure as Superintendent, he oversaw the building of 10 high schools; Mt. Pleasant, Oak Grove, William C. Overfelt, Silver Creek, Piedmont Hills, Santa Teresa, Yerba Buena, Foothill, Milpitas, and Independence High Schools were built. His last major construction project was the district office facility. It makes me tired just listing them all.
Frank’s commitment to the community doesn’t stop there, and retirement from the school district for Frank was just another word for opportunity. He became CEO of Alexian Brothers Hospital, coordinated the restoration of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and in 1992 was elected to the San Jose City Council (1992–2000). He served as Vice-Mayor from 1998–2000.
Since 1977, Frank has been a supporter of Opera San Jose starting when it was called Opera Workshop. As documented on the Opera San Jose website, “At the time Irene Dalis returned to San Jose from New York and founded the Opera Workshop at San Jose State,” Frank recounted, “I was Superintendent of the Eastside Union High School District and we had just built Independence High, with a 500 seat theater.
Irene called and asked about the theater, as the Opera Workshop had no proper place to perform. We arranged for the Workshop to perform in our theater.” Frank continues to be a loyal contributor, through the years he has served on the Opera San Jose Board, and currently serves on the Governance Committee.
In addition to the Governance Committee for Opera San Jose, Frank is on the advisory board for Little Italy San Jose, and is a member of the board of directors for History San Jose and Silicon Valley FACES.
Frank still finds time to lend his time to charitable organizations serving as master of ceremonies for such events as the recently held Italian American Heritage Foundation Scholarship Awards Dinner.
It is not hard to understand why Frank was honored this summer at History San Jose's Valley of Heart's Delight fundraiser held under the stars at History Park on June 28. The community outpouring was overwhelming, it truly was one of the most extraordinary gala events of the year.
The evening was filled with plenty of music from Fiddle Road and the big-band music of Millennium Sounds which served to top off the awards and speeches. There was also a surprise performance by two opera singers, to recognize Fiscalini's role in helping Opera San Jose get its start.
In true Frank style, he accepted the awards and accolades with the humility that those that know him have come to expect. As he faced the crowd of nearly 400 people he said, "I'm deeply humbled by this, the historical museum (History San Jose) is very important to me, not only as a collection of memorabilia recording our past but as a way to connect to the future we continue to make."
"He is a true Renaissance man and deserves recognition for his many achievements and humble devotion to the betterment of our community," History San Jose CEO Alida Bray said.
We’ve only scratched the surface of everything Frank has meant to this community. He is not only a man to be emulated in the Santa Clara Valley but a stellar example of what makes Italians the proudest, our contributions to the communities in which we live, work and play.
Now that you know a little more about Frank Fiscalini how would you describe him?