His job as principal at Vintage High School was never 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For Frank Silva, it was all day, every day. Nights and weekends. Holidays and summers.
If there was a football or basketball game or a wrestling meet, Silva was there, looking on from the sidelines. It wasn’t just the home games that he was at. He also traveled to the road games.
If a student needed help with a college application, Silva and his wife, Laura, were right there, opening their home and doing all that they could to fill out the forms.
His door in the main office was always open, as he would take time to talk with staff members, students, parents and those from around the community.
He helped start the athletic booster club and was instrumental in finding ways to improve the old Napa Memorial Stadium.
He was Napa County chairman of the Northern California chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
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He was president of the Monticello Empire League and a member and officer of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.
He was a founder of the Napa Valley Education Foundation.
“He loved every minute,” Silva’s wife, Laura said. “Frank believed that extra-curricular activities, whether it be sports, band or student leadership, were an important life lesson. Students learned good sportsmanship and how to get along and work with others outside their own group.
“Frank often said that school spirit was important to a good learning environment and a successful school.”
Frank Silva passed away in July of 1997, five years after retiring from his job as director of secondary education for the Napa Valley Unified School District. But he is not forgotten.
Silva is heading to the Vintage High Athletic Hall of Fame, which is now in its fifth year. The 10-member class was elected by a selection committee. The Hall of Fame’s board of directors approved the class.
The latest class also consists of:
* Norma Hill and Jim Lanterman, coaches.
* Conrad Alvarez, Mike Hunter, Lori Stultz Gentry and Mark Nicol, athletes.
* J.C. Pickett, Bruce McCall and Glenn Hughes, special category.
A dinner and ceremony to honor the inductees is on Sept. 9 at the Elks Lodge of Napa.
The newest members will be introduced at Vintage’s Hall of Fame game against Davis on Sept. 8 at Napa Memorial Stadium.
“It makes me very proud,” said Silva’s son, Frank Silva, the principal of Browns Valley Elementary School and a 1981 Vintage High graduate. “He was the type of person, as he raised us, to be humble and let your work do your talking.
“I’m glad that people have noticed his hard work and his dedication to Vintage and the sports program, and how he really helped develop the program into one of the powerhouses of the MEL when I went to school there and even before I got there.
“He really lived his work. It was a passion for him. It just wasn’t a job. He hired really well. He hired excellent people and he supported them and believed in them and motivated them to do their best.”
Frank Silva taught and coached at Silverado Junior High School. He was the head coach for track and field and an assistant football coach.
He also taught and coached at Napa High. He was the head coach for cross country and track.
He was an advocate for girls sports before Title IX was enacted.
“It wasn’t an 8-hour job for him,” said Laura Silva. “When the kids were little, we went to every wrestling, every basketball game, every football game, every baseball game, as a family, because otherwise, we wouldn’t see him. He would leave early in the morning, come home, grab something to eat, and then we would all get in the car.”
Chuck Wiese was the first principal at Vintage when the school opened in 1972. Silva was promoted from his job as assistant principal of instruction at Napa High to principal at Vintage, leading a new school.
“He always said it was like the perfect storm, the staff that he had,” said Laura Silva. “They enjoyed working together and they all liked each other.”
Frank Silva was principal from 1972 to 1982. He was at the district office for the next 10 years, from 1982 to 1992, when he retired after a 34-year career with the Napa Valley Unified School District.
Frank Silva started with the district in 1958, teaching social science, math and wood shop at Silverado Junior High. He graduated from San Francisco State and got his master’s in education there as well.
He became dean of activities at Napa High in 1971.
“He said from the time he was a little kid, he wanted to be a teacher,” said Laura Silva. “He loved football and he loved coaching.
“The one thing about Frank … he never needed to get the credit. That wasn’t something that he had to have. He just wanted the job done. He always thanked people for anything they did. He was a very good organizer. He listened to people. And he wasn’t too proud to change, if someone had a better idea.”
Frank Silva was involved with the Napa Valley Tennis Association and the city of Napa in the construction of the upper tennis courts at Vintage.
Laura Silva said her husband’s one dream for Vintage was to have a swimming pool.
“They started to raise money and by the time they had enough money, the price went up. He never got to see a swimming pool,” she said. “I go out there and I see the swimming pool now, and I think he would have loved that swimming pool.”
Frank Silva was 65 when he passed away. He died of a heart attack near the family’s cabin at Cisco Grove (Placer County).
He was a graduate of Balboa High-San Francisco.
Bob Hansen, a former NVUSD superintendent, told the Napa Valley Register in 1997: “He was one of those capable, unflappable people. As a high school principal, he was the kind that could talk to anyone. He had an empathy for people and made you feel better for talking to him.”
Frank and Laura Silva have three children – Marisa Miller, Frank Silva, Larry Silva – and five grandchildren.
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