History & School Culture
With no high school in the Sunnyvale/Cupertino area, the West Side Union High School spun off from the Encinal School District in September 1921. The first year and a half the organization was devoted to conferences to determine whether the district should unite with other high school districts or start its own school. On Tuesday evening, May 1, 1923, it was unanimously decided to start a high school in the district. The school started Wednesday, May 2, in rooms of the Sunnyvale Elementary School Building.
- Overview and Notable Alumni
- More History of FHS
- The Diesner Behind Diesner Field (1938 - 1968)
- World War II Years
- Tino Rodriguez - "Mr Fremont" (Class of 1944)
- An Airplane Kept on School Grounds (mid 1940s)
- The Original FHS Wigwam (1946)
- A Fire in the Main Building (1969)
- Tim Shannon: Extraordinary Teacher, Colleague, and Friend (1985 - 2010)
- Transition from Indians to Firebirds Mascot (1996 - 1997)
- Bob Stahl and Stahl Gardens (1981-2005)
One can only imagine the sight of Fremont High School in the 1920’s as it rose out of a community of orchards and small farms. The distinctive tile roof, bell tower, decorative urns, and Spanish architecture are evidence of a time when style and beauty took precedence over utility and convenience in the construction of California high schools.
Fremont High School student body in 1928
With no high school in the Sunnyvale/Cupertino area, the West Side Union High School spun off from the Encinal School District and formed the region’s first high school. This school, Fremont High School, began classes in fall 1923 at the Sunnyvale Elementary School. The school board then purchased land for a permanent site for the school, and commissioned William Weeks, a Watsonville resident, to design the main building. Weeks developed buildings up and down the California coast, from as far south as San Luis Obispo and as far north as Ukiah. He also constructed a variety of buildings in his hometown, Watsonville. Construction on the main building began in 1926, with the gym following in 1927. The gym (replaced many years ago) ran perpendicular to Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, and had a “Hoosiers” look, meaning, the fans sat atop the action rather than right on the floor.
1935 saw the completion of a swimming pool, situated immediately behind the gymnasium, and a library attached to the main building. The library, built in 1935 served that purpose for many years, but we now know it as the Student Center, and before that it was known as the Wigwam. The book stacks took up most of the ground floor, with the upstairs annex serving as study rooms for ambitious Fremont students. Eventually, the library was moved to what is now the 140’s wing, which was also formally the Wigwam, and finally to its current site which replaced the 50’s and 60’s wings. The football bleachers, the first of their kind on the West Coast, were also completed during this time.
Baby Boom Explodes Student Population: As the baby boom swelled the number of school age students in California and Santa Clara County became a destination for young families, Fremont had to expand past its one building roots. Even though the Fremont Union High School District continued to open schools, Fremont added a new gym, now running parallel to Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, the 50’s and 60’s wings, a new science building with a pond, and finally in 1961, the 80’s and 90’s wings. 1966 also saw the destruction of the student center, which served as the high school before construction finished in 1926. By the time the 1970’s rolled around, the campus would look much like it did in 1998 when the current modernization efforts commenced.
Fire and Rehabilitation
One of the most dramatic events in school annals occurred in 1969. Many theories abound, and facts remain fuzzy, but somehow the bell tower in the main building caught fire; fortunately, the fire did not spread to the remainder of the main building, preserving the health of the oldest building on campus. Oddly, 1969, the same year of the fire, saw the school’s main building go under the knife. Architect Edwin J. Meyer and contractor Stevenson Pacific Incorporated secured and modernized the now 40 year-old main building.
The New Science Building
With a 30 year old science building no longer adequate for the technological needs of the 1990’s, the Fremont Union High School District funded the science building, which sits on a site formally utilized for student parking. The building successfully upgraded the facilities for the Fremont Science Department.
In the spring of 1998 the Fremont Union High School District community passed a bond for modernization of the five campuses. As one looks around campus, the additions are at times subtle, and others stunning. The gorgeous music building adjacent to the home football bleachers houses the band and choir programs. This replaced the now destroyed band room attached to the back of the main building. The other most striking addition is the library. The library, now in its third location on campus, is a modern facility, equipped with the latest technology, but also retains a sense of history, by duplicating the look of the main building. The Fremont swimming pool, a partnership with the City of Sunnyvale also made its debut after the bond measure. The pool replaced a pool so antiquated, the water polo team could not compete at home because the polo tank did not meet specifications for league play. Other modernizations include new bleachers in the gym, conversion of the main building, updated auditorium, television/media studio, revamped art wing, renovation of the small gym, and modernization of the campuses’ classrooms. FHS athletic fields were also significantly renovated in 2010 – 2011 and the front parking lot received a makeover in 2012.
Fremont has seen many of its graduates contribute locally, and nationally over the years. In fact, thumbing through early yearbooks reveals many names affixed on the schools, streets, and businesses of the South Bay: Stelling, Meyerholz, Adair, Olson, Mariani, and Stowell. Other notable alums include:
- Peter Ueberroth: Olympic organizer, 1984 Time Magazine Man of the Year, Major League Baseball Commissioner
- Andrew Fire: Nobel Prize winner in the field of medicine
- Francie Larrieu: 5-time Olympian and world record holder
- Teri Hatcher: actress, appeared on television and in motion pictures
- Tully Banta-Cain: current New England Patriots player and former linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers
- Troy Tulowitzki: Shortstop for the Colorado Rockies and one of only 13 players in Major League history to make an unassisted triple play
- Marty Mathiesen: Fremont teacher and coach, first principal of Sunnyvale High School.
- George Fernandez: Fremont teacher and coach, first principal of Cupertino High School
- Steve Kloves: Oscar nominated screenwriter of The Wonder Boys,
- John Dunning: Championship volleyball coach at UOP and Stanford
- Carl Ekern: All-Pro football player with Los Angeles Rams
With no high school in the Sunnyvale/Cupertino area, the West Side Union High School spun offfrom the Encinal School District in September 1921. The first year and a half the organizationwas devoted to conferences to determine whether the district should unite with other high school districts or start its own school. On Tuesday evening, May 1, 1923 it was unanimously de- cided to start a high school in the district. The school started Wednesday May 2, in rooms of
In June 1923 the Board purchased the present site of FHS and commissioned William Weeks, a Watsonville resident, to design the main building. Construction on the main building began in 1926, with the gym construction following in 1927. The original gym (replaced many years ago) ran perpendicular to Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road and had a “Hoosiers’ look because the fans satatop the action rather than right on the floor. In 1925 the school’s name was changed to FremontUnion High School.
During 1935 the original swimming pool was completed and a library was attached to the main building. The location of the original library — now known as our student center — has changed throughout the years. Initially the library book stacks took up most of the ground floor, with the upstairs annex serving as study rooms for ambitious Fremont students. Eventually, the library was moved to what is now the 140swing, and then ultimately to the current location when the 50s and 60s wings were removed tomake way for the library.
As the baby boom swelled, the Fremont Union High School District opened additional high schoolsand expanded FHS facilities including the addition of a new gymnasium, the 50s and 60s wings (since removed to make way for the current library), a new science building with a pond, and fi- nally in 1961, the 80s and 90s wings. During the 1990s a new science building was constructed
In the spring of 1998 the FUHSD community passed a mod-ernization bond which funded striking upgrades to our facili- ties including a new music building which replaced the band room that was previously attached to the back of the main building, a new library equipped with the latest technology, and a new swimming pool built in partnership with the City of Sunnyvale. The most recent bond is providing funds forupgraded sports fields and the installation of solar panels.
Over the years you may have heard the FHS football field referred to as Diesner Field. Here’s some information about the ‘Diesner’ behind Diesner Field.
Howard Diesner was born in 1908 and was a graduate of the University of Illinois and the Illinois College of Medicine. In 1935 Dr. Diesner made his way to the small town of Sunnyvale and joined with Dr. Tolbert Watson who was the Sunnyvale town doctor since the 1920s. Their office was upstairs at the corner of Murphy and Washington streets in downtown Sunnyvale. Dr. Diesner was known as a larger-than-life figure who went the extra mile to provide service to his patients, often working late into the night. Dr. Diesner married Beatrice Watson (FHS Class of 1932) and two of his three children graduated from Fremont.
Beginning in the late 1930s, Dr. Howard Diesner was the “team doctor” for the FHS football team. For over thirty years ‘Doc’ faithfully attended FHS home football games and provided medical attention to the team. He even helped during away games and his son, Harvey Diesner, remembers that after many Friday night away games the team bus used to pull up to their house and the coach would be there with a couple of injured players that Dr. Diesner would take to the office on Murphy street to patch up and then take home. Jerry Hitchman, FHS Class of 1954, remembers that at one home football game Doc was on the sidelines when a FHS football player chased down an opposing ball carrier on the Fremont sidelines. The FHS player didn’t quite catch the runner and as he continued across the sidelines he made one of the all-time great tackles on Doc Diesner who was standing on the sidelines. At football games the coaches and refs even put Dr. Diesner to work as the holder of the chains that marked where the ball was located. Dr. Diesner is remembered as a generous and good-hearted man who was very supportive of the team and school.
In addition to his service to FHS, Dr. Diesner served as a Fremont Union High School District Board of Trustees member from 1938 – 1968 with a stint as the Board President in 1947. In 1957 he also joined the first Board of Trustees that created Foothill Community College in Los Altos. Dr. Diesner co-founded the Sunnyvale Medical Clinic which subsequently became the Camino Medical Group.
In 1956, the FHS football field was dedicated to Dr. Diesner and, fifty years later a new scoreboard was installed and dedicated to his memory and legacy. The attached photo of the new scoreboard and Dr. Diesner’s children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter was taken at the dedication on September 9, 2006. Dr. Diesner died in 1984.
On Monday, December 8, 1941 at 9 a.m., Principal Vern Hall announced over the school intercom, “Would everyone be quiet? There’s a special announcement from Washington DC.” Mr. Hall then put on President Roosevelt’s radio broadcast so all could hear the president address the nation and speak about “A date which will live in infamy.”
With the coming of spring, there was great uncertainty with regard to the Class of 1942’s graduation activities. About half of the senior class joined the military before graduation, and even greater numbers would be absent from succeeding graduations. When an FHS student enlisted in the military and departed from FHS a small American flag was placed at their desk and at the graduation ceremonies those who were serving in the armed services were represented by an American flag at their spots on the graduation stand.
Prior to the war, in 1941 a new building was completed to provide a woodshop, auto shop, and classrooms for FHS (below is a current view of the building now used by our art department). After the outbreak of the war the building was used to train pilots for the military. An airfield had even been proposed for what is now the athletic grounds. An interesting feature of the building was a bay of windows on the north side, providing a view of the runway that never was. On the northeast corner of the building was a half circle of windows that provided a room for a link trainer (a mechanical flight simulator that trained pilots for instruments-only night flying). After the war, the building used by the military was returned to the high school and provided wood, metal, and machine shops as well as additional classrooms. Two military style Quonset huts were added to the west of the campus and one of the huts is currently used by the FHS wrestling team.
Fremont itself became a makeshift recruit training ground at the start of World War II. Army recruits were based in Washington Park in Sunnyvale and also at FHS.
The troops were strictly admonished not to fraternize with the FHS students, particularly the FHS female students. However, necessity is the mother of invention and some of the female students would write notes to the soldiers, wrap the note around a rock, tie it with a string, and throw the rock to the football field where the soldiers were practicing their drills. Many relationships and several marriages resulted from these interactions. During the war there were no FHS dances held on campus, however some teachers organized a dance at the Sunnyvale City Hall for the soldiers and invited FHS female students. Afterwards all were reprimanded due to the costs of gasoline and electricity.
In February of 1942, President Roosevelt announced that citizens of Japanese descent were to be moved and confined to camps inland from the coast of California. Many FHS students protested this act as an unfair violation of their rights to an integrated community. Still, Japanese-American Fremont students and their families disappeared, sadly leaving their homes and their school behind. Below is a photo of two Japanese-American FHS students — Henry Nose (Class of 1948) and Willie Yoshimoto (Class of 1949) who volunteered in the FHS laundry and lived in the cramped FHS laundry during 1945-1946 while they awaited their families’ return from concentration camps.
With thanks to former FHS art teacher (1968-2007) Dan Keeslar who contributed greatly to this report.
Faustino ‘Tino’ Rodriguez was nicknamed ‘Mr. Fremont’ for good reasons; he was a lifelong supporter and ambassador of all things Fremont.
Tino was a member of the FHS Class of 1944. He was a master storyteller and could regale you for hours with stories of his Fremont days, the value of his Fremont education, and the importance of education for all. Tino nearly single handedly organized a Grad Night trip to Disneyland for the Class of 1968 for 350 students with 10 buses to the San Jose airport and 5 planes for the roundtrip.
Tino was tremendously grateful for the education that he received at FHS and modeled giving back to the school and community. A man of modest means, together with his high school sweetheart and wife, Manuela, he created the Rodriguez Family Scholarship that is given annually to an FHS senior and they also made many generous donations in support of various FHS projects.
Tino was the driving force behind the creation of the Fremont High School Alumni Association over 50 years ago and was especially integral to the creation and growth of the Fremont High School Alumni Association scholarship program which has given nearly $150,000 to FHS graduates.
As a tribute to the Rodriguez family legacy to FHS, in 2005 the prestigious Spirit of Fremont award was created and awarded annually in Tino and Manuela’s names to a FHS male and female senior who personifies the true spirit of Fremont. Tino passed from this life to the next on March 14, 2010.
There once was an airplane that was parked in the area behind the old FHS pool and near the current art building.
In the 1940s, the Industrial Arts teacher here was named Eddie Cornell. Mr. Cornell was so great at scrounging surplus equipment for the school that he was nicknamed ‘Surplus Ed.’ He managed to get a hold of tools, aircraft engines, and even Quonset huts for FHS. In fact, he went to a naval facility and took three Quonset huts apart and rebuilt them at FHS to be used as bus garages.
Sometime in the mid 1940s, Mr. Cornell bought a B-25 two-engine bomber for $300 at a war surplus auction. The bomber, named after Bill Mitchell, was a plane used in the early bombing of Tokyo and was reportedly flown in the movie ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo’ which was a morale booster early in World War Two.
Once purchased, the plane was flown into Moffett Field in north Sunnyvale and disassembled. The body of the plane and the wings were placed on a Navy tow truck and driven down Highway 9 (currently Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road) to FHS. Local law enforcement blocked all the intersections between Moffett Field and FHS so that the plane could be safely transported. It really must have been a sight!
When the plane was delivered to FHS the students jacked up the body and reattached the wings. They even ‘started her up’ and were surprised at how much noise it made. The plane was used for teaching auto tech and aeronautics to FHS students and in 1949 the plane fell into disrepair and was taken to the scrap yard.
The original 1923 building first used as the West Side Union High School --- later named Fremont High School --- was primarily a wooden structure. As the school expanded and new buildings were added to the campus, the original building was moved near to where the 70s wing currently is and designated as a student center which quickly became the social hub of the campus. In 1946 FHS students Betty Spolyar Rowland and Eugene Ravizza thought that 'Wigwam' was just the right name for the new FHS student center and the name stuck.
The aerial photo from 1946 shows the Wigwam (next to the tennis courts). Students congregated in the Wigwam to meet and talk with other students, enjoy snacks, play games, and to dance. I’m told that there was lots of dancing. In fact, the April 27, 1956 edition of ‘The Fremont Chief’ school newspaper reported, “The dance floor is literally swamped with shuffling feet and swinging arms.” There was a jukebox in the Wigwam and a member of the Class of 1956 remembers that “You never had to put a coin into the jukebox, merely press down on the dozen or so assorted tabs in front and you would soon be dancing to the Midnighters, The Platters, or Fats Domino.” Students enjoyed playing ping-pong in the Wigwam and the TV was especially popular during sporting events such as the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. New York Yankees World Series.
Refreshments were sold in the Wigwam. Students could purchase milkshakes for twenty cents, and popsicles, candy, and soft drinks for five cents each. The Wigwam was so crowded during lunch and school breaks that instead of taking the time to make change, a Wigwam token was made and sold for five cents.
Subsequently all food and beverage items were priced in five cent increments so that students could quickly purchase their items using the new tokens.
Many Fremont alumni fondly recall their time at the Wigwam and remember it as a highlight of their Fremont experience.
With the advent of the new 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s wings the Wigwam was reinvented in a different part of the campus.
Did you know that there was a fire in the main building on June 26, 1969?
There indeed was a fire that caused serious damage to the main building. The exact cause of the blaze was never determined although arson was ruled out as a factor. The suspicion was that that antiquated electrical cords and exposed wires may have contributed to the start of the fire. Thankfully no people were harmed despite the serious damage to the building.
While the building was being repaired, the classrooms located in the main building were unavailable during the 1969-1970 school year. Because of the reduced number of classrooms, the entire freshmen class spent their freshmen year at Monta Vista High School. Students arrived at FHS in the morning and were bused to and from MVHS for their classes.
Tim Shannon was an extraordinary drama and technical theater teacher at Fremont High School from 1985 through 2010. His unexpected passing on April 6, 2010 left behind a legion of fans and a legacy of excellence.
Known as ‘Tim’ to his students, he was a constant source of inspiration and a confidant who guided his students through the often-turbulent high school years. Tim empowered students to find solutions and learn by doing, and he encouraged them to persevere through life’s challenges. He was always the ‘eye of the hurricane,' a calming influence amid the seeming chaos of a late rehearsal or during opening night jitters. Tim brought a clear vision and sense of humor to each conversation. His legacy includes nearly one hundred productions at Fremont High School, as well as many students who pursued college degrees in theater and went on to careers in drama and stagecraft.
FHS students remember Tim fondly, and former student Heather Steffen recalls, “He is the reason I came to school, he was my hero, he brought out the best in me.“ Andrea Nysen explained, “Tim taught me to believe in myself. He just didn’t teach me about theater, he taught me about life. He inspired me to be a better person and will inspire me for the rest of my life.” Anna Westendorf shared, “Everything I learned about perseverance I learned from Tim, but more importantly
I learned what it means to be truly grateful.” Eric Medeiros remembered this sage advice from Tim: “He taught me that just because my favorite actor is Jack Nicholson that I don’t have to act like him all the time.” FHS music teacher Joe Howard, a longtime colleague who was inspired by Tim, remarked, “Tim never forgot his students. He never judged them and was very accepting. He took the time to know each one.”
In addition to his work at Fremont High School, Tim was an active member of the South Bay arts community. He believed in giving back and was generous with his time in working with the California Theater Center, San Jose Arts Commission, TheatreWorks in Mountain View, and the California State Thespian Festival, as well as tutoring at the Huntington Learning Center.
Tim was a bit of a prankster who often had a twinkle in his eye. He loved the Beatles, J.R.R. Tolkien, Monty Python, Shakespeare, and Star Trek. He also was an avid coin collector. Tim was particularly drawn to sports and delighted in watching his son, Greg, play baseball. Tim was a longtime fan and season ticket holder of the San Francisco 49ers.
In April 2011, Tim was inducted into the California Thespian Hall of Fame, a pinnacle of recognition for theater educators. Tim is the first person to be admitted posthumously. At the request of Fremont High School, on April 12, 2011 the Fremont Union High School District Board of Trustees renamed the FHS main auditorium to Shannon Theatre.
When Fremont High School began there were many intentional similarities with Stanford University including architecture, school colors, and their mascot, the Indians. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the original mascot for Fremont High School was the Indians. The Indian theme was consistent throughout FHS, most notably via the Wigwam (social hub of the school), the Featherettes (dance team), The Chief (student newspaper), and The Pathfinder (student yearbook). The Indians mascot was a vital and respected part of the Fremont community and partnered with the students and staff to increase spirit and energy in the campus and community.
Late in the 20th century in much of the United States some questioned the wisdom of designating Native Americans as mascots or as the names of sports teams. They wondered whether the Indian was always treated in a respectful and dignified manner and claimed that in some cases the use of an Indian mascot was offensive, demeaning, or racist. The result of this controversy was that many Native American names and images associated with sports teams were changed including eliminating the Indians mascot at Stanford University in 1972.
In 1995 a group comprised of non-local and local people approached the Fremont Union High School District with concerns about the use of the Indians as the FHS mascot. The group asserted that this designation was inappropriate and insisted that a change be implemented by the FUHSD Board of Trustees. The Board respected the authority of the site and deferred the matter to the FHS administrative team and encouraged them to strongly consider student and community input in this matter.
Over the course of the 1995-1996 school year a series of meetings were held at FHS to solicit input about the name of the mascot. Many FHS students, staff, alumni, and community members were in attendance to discuss the history of the FHS Indian mascot and the positive and negative reasons for making a change to a different mascot. While some voiced support for making a change there were also very strong feelings about retaining the Indian mascot. A deep loyalty and allegiance to the current mascot was especially prevalent among FHS alumni members.
After considering the input shared at the community meetings, in the spring of 1996 the Fremont Union High School District Board of Trustees voted to eliminate the
Indians mascot because their desire was that the FHS mascot should reflect an inclusive community and they didn’t want to personify any group or set of people that would alienate the community. As a result of this decision, the Board recommended that all Indian memorabilia be removed from FHS by June 30, 1996 and FHS apparel with the Indians mascot would no longer be sold. Remaining FHS shirts and PE uniforms displaying or referring to the Indians mascot were donated to a sister public school in Mexicali. The Board of Trustees was very generous with their financial support during this transition and assisted in paying for items displaying the school mascot that needed to be replaced. The FHS Class of 1996 was the last FHS class to graduate as the FHS Indians.
Once the decision was made to eliminate the Indians mascot, the search ensued to select a new mascot. Anyone in the community – students, staff, alumni, and community members – was encouraged to recommend a name for the new mascot. All submissions were accepted with the exception of suggestions that personified any group of people. Many ideas were submitted including the concept of not having a mascot but simply referring to the school only by it’s name.
A ballot containing all the new mascot submissions was created and FHS students voted to narrow the list to the top three favorites: Firebirds, Sequoia, and Wolves. The final mascot decision was made by the FHS staff and students who with 65% of the vote chose the Firebirds as the new mascot. Some remember that one of the reasons for this ringing endorsement was the similarity of the Firebird to the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes which served as a symbol of the change, as well as the alliteration of Fremont Firebirds.
The initial transitionary steps from the Indians to the Firebirds occurred during the 1996-1997 school year. That year’s FHS leadership class helped to select the uniform that would be worn by the mascot. They decided that when a female student was wearing the uniform the mascot would be called Phyllis and when a male student was representing the mascot then the name Phillip would be used. Over the years, however, the FHS mascot has been referred to as Felipe without regard to the gender of a student. Assistant Principal Bob Grover, in collaboration with several FHS students, designed the first Firebird logo and this graphic was painted on the side of the FHS large gym in 1997.
Former FHS Assistant Principal, Cip Sena, encouraged Fremont High School students and staff to stay true to the spirit of Fremont when he admonished, “They can take your logo, but they cannot take your spirit --- only you can give up your spirit and pride --- don’t let that happen. Work together as the Fremont Family and keep the spirit and pride in yourselves and your school alive, regardless of what your logo may be.” Although the name of the FHS mascot has changed, the ongoing enthusiastic spirit and allegiance to Fremont endures and remains strong.
With thanks to former FHS administrative team members Bob Grover, Peggy Raun-Linde and Larry Vilaubi and former FHS staff members Dick Canavese and Dan Keeslar who made significant contributions to this report.
In many ways, Bob Stahl was a renaissance man who was skilled in multiple areas, interested in improving the world around him, and enthusiastically dedicated to the beautification of Fremont High School.
Bob Stahl was a proud member of the FHS Class of 1963. During his high school years, Bob was active as a drummer in the honor band, A band, and Chieftains (the FHS swing band) and was honored to be selected for the Santa Clara County Honor Band. Bob went on to play first chair snare drums for the San Jose State marching band.
Beginning his employment with the Fremont Union High School District in 1976, Bob was a custodian at Sunnyvale High School. He was promoted to Facilities Manager at Fremont High School in 1981 and served in that role until 2005. Throughout his tenure at FHS, Bob insured that the FHS facilities were safe and clean for our students, staff, and community members.
Remembering the roses that graced the front of the school when he was a student, Bob dedicated himself to a renewed beautification of the Fremont campus. He single handedly inspired, organized, and supervised the legendary landscaping projects throughout the campus and was often here long into the evening and weekend preparing the ground and tending his plants. The front of the school was a particular focus and included the bold roses in the deepest reds exploding through the summer and fall, the glorious tulips in many colors swaying in the breeze in the spring, and the carpet of red and white petunias that peak during graduation week each year. Former FHS principal Peggy Raun-Linde remembered that the title of Facilities Manager didn’t really describe Bob’s true vocation when she shared, “He’s an artist, and it comes through in his garden.”
Bob was particularly devoted to seeing that an impressive array of tulips bloomed each year. He selected varieties that peaked at different times to extend the floral display as long as possible. When asked to explain why he favored tulips above the other flowers he replied, “I love the blooms because of their ability to pick up people’s spirits. I’ve been very lucky in my life to work at something I love doing.”
It is rare to see a public school adorned so richly and the landscaping in the front of the Fremont campus is known throughout the area, bringing smiles and joy to passing motorists. It is a tradition for many families to bring their children to be photographed in front of the tulips during the Easter season. Bob hoped for a specific response from those who passed by the front of the school, “I want them to say, ‘Oh my gosh, look at that!’ “
Diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer, Bob retired from Fremont in 2005. At that time a tulip planting party was organized to honor and celebrate Bob’s numerous contributions. Hundreds of people attended the ceremony and Bob was bestowed with many honors including those from the FHS student body,
Bob was also an accomplished gardener at his own home and had a prolific vegetable garden. He made the most amazing fudge and was quick to share it during the holiday season. Bob was an accomplished fisherman and enthusiastic sports fan who was particularly devoted to the San Francisco 49ers and Giants. Despite the initial four to six month prognosis he received when his cancer was diagnosed, Bob defied the odds and lived a full life until his passing in 2010.
Fremont Union High School District, City of Sunnyvale, and California Assembly. Bob gave the crowd instructions in how to plant tulips and the crowd pitched-in to help plant over 6,000 tulips that blossomed in all their glory in the spring of 2006. Bob endorsed the promotion of Carlos Ramos to the FHS Facilities Manager position and said, “I’m not the least bit worried about what is going to happen to the school because Carlos is so conscientious.” Indeed, Carlos Ramos was promoted to FHS Facilities Manager in 2005.
With gratitude for and in recognition of Bob Stahl’s ongoing legacy and commitment to the beautification of Fremont High School, on November 7, 2011 the front of the school was renamed Stahl Gardens.