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Remembering Bob Athenour

Retired Amador teacher, sister city association co-founder dies at 91

Bob Athenour, a retired Amador Valley High School foreign language teacher who later helped form the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association, died last week after a recent illness. He was 91.

Affectionately known as "Señor Bob," Athenour was a Sunol native who with wife Marilyn later raised their family in Pleasanton. He also operated a travel agency locally in a second career, and was an active supporter of the Pleasanton Rotary Club and its Wheelchair Project.

"We will always have Bob in our hearts and thank the family for sharing so much of his love and life with us," PTSCA officials said on the nonprofit's website.

PUSD Trustee Valerie Arkin told the Weekly that Athenour "has left a legacy in Pleasanton. He was a teacher for over 25 years in PUSD and was a founding member of the Pleasanton Tulancingo Mexico sister-city organization. He touched so many lives and he will remain in the hearts of many. My condolences to his family. Señor Bob will be greatly missed."

Born in 1929, Athenour was raised in Sunol and graduated from Amador as part of a 26-student senior class in 1947. After earning an undergraduate degree from San Jose State University and then a teaching credential, Athenour joined the U.S. Air Force.

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He returned to Pleasanton after his military service and began working at his alma mater Amador, where he would teach Spanish and French for 27 years.

An avid traveler, Athenour also opened his own travel business in 1972; Athenour Travel Service focused on tours for adults and students alike.

His love of international travel, Mexican culture and education culminated in Athenour helping co-found the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association in 1983. The relationship between the Mexican city and his hometown remains strong 37 years later, with adult delegations and exchange students experiencing each other's cultures to this day.

"The purpose of the association was to develop communication, friendship and understanding between people of two cultures; but it became much more than that!" Athenour's family wrote in an online obituary. "His friends from Tulancingo, as well as the Sister City Program, held a special place in his heart. When visiting Tulancingo, it was common for people driving by to stop and welcome him with big hugs and excitement."

Athenour also gave back as a longtime Rotarian, including being directly involved in fundraising or delivering more than 8,000 wheelchairs to those in need internationally through the Pleasanton Rotary Club and the Wheelchair Foundation.

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Despite the ongoing COVID-19 shelter order, friends and family were able to celebrate with Athenour on his 91st birthday on June 8 with a surprise drive-by parade with dozens of cars outside the CreekView senior living facility where he resided.

Late last month, Athenour was hospitalized due to various health complications, and then spent his final days at his daughter's house with family, including being serenaded by a live trio playing his favorite mariachi songs one day, according to PTSCA officials.

He died peacefully surrounded by family early in the morning on Aug. 10.

The PTSCA website includes remembrances of Athenour, including from Tulancingo residents whom he befriended over the decades.

"An enormous sadness invades our hearts, last night I was listening to the song 'El Rey' and remembering Bob a lot," wrote Rosaurora and Hector Ocadiz. "How good that his family brought him the music that he loved so much and that reminded him of so many people with such affection. A hug for his children and grandchildren and for all of you our dear friends, to continue with what he left us."

Athenour is survived by his daughter Anne Athenour Martin and son Tom Athenour and their families. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Marilyn, and his son Karl Athenour.

The family is going to hold a private Mass and interment due to the pandemic, but they said they plan to hold larger celebrations of life in Pleasanton and Tulancingo when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

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Jeremy Walsh, a Benicia native and American University alum, joined Embarcadero Media in November 2013. After serving as associate editor for the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com, he was promoted to editor of the East Bay Division in February 2017. Read more >>

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Remembering Bob Athenour

Retired Amador teacher, sister city association co-founder dies at 91

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Aug 18, 2020, 6:56 pm

Bob Athenour, a retired Amador Valley High School foreign language teacher who later helped form the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association, died last week after a recent illness. He was 91.

Affectionately known as "Señor Bob," Athenour was a Sunol native who with wife Marilyn later raised their family in Pleasanton. He also operated a travel agency locally in a second career, and was an active supporter of the Pleasanton Rotary Club and its Wheelchair Project.

"We will always have Bob in our hearts and thank the family for sharing so much of his love and life with us," PTSCA officials said on the nonprofit's website.

PUSD Trustee Valerie Arkin told the Weekly that Athenour "has left a legacy in Pleasanton. He was a teacher for over 25 years in PUSD and was a founding member of the Pleasanton Tulancingo Mexico sister-city organization. He touched so many lives and he will remain in the hearts of many. My condolences to his family. Señor Bob will be greatly missed."

Born in 1929, Athenour was raised in Sunol and graduated from Amador as part of a 26-student senior class in 1947. After earning an undergraduate degree from San Jose State University and then a teaching credential, Athenour joined the U.S. Air Force.

He returned to Pleasanton after his military service and began working at his alma mater Amador, where he would teach Spanish and French for 27 years.

An avid traveler, Athenour also opened his own travel business in 1972; Athenour Travel Service focused on tours for adults and students alike.

His love of international travel, Mexican culture and education culminated in Athenour helping co-found the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association in 1983. The relationship between the Mexican city and his hometown remains strong 37 years later, with adult delegations and exchange students experiencing each other's cultures to this day.

"The purpose of the association was to develop communication, friendship and understanding between people of two cultures; but it became much more than that!" Athenour's family wrote in an online obituary. "His friends from Tulancingo, as well as the Sister City Program, held a special place in his heart. When visiting Tulancingo, it was common for people driving by to stop and welcome him with big hugs and excitement."

Athenour also gave back as a longtime Rotarian, including being directly involved in fundraising or delivering more than 8,000 wheelchairs to those in need internationally through the Pleasanton Rotary Club and the Wheelchair Foundation.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 shelter order, friends and family were able to celebrate with Athenour on his 91st birthday on June 8 with a surprise drive-by parade with dozens of cars outside the CreekView senior living facility where he resided.

Late last month, Athenour was hospitalized due to various health complications, and then spent his final days at his daughter's house with family, including being serenaded by a live trio playing his favorite mariachi songs one day, according to PTSCA officials.

He died peacefully surrounded by family early in the morning on Aug. 10.

The PTSCA website includes remembrances of Athenour, including from Tulancingo residents whom he befriended over the decades.

"An enormous sadness invades our hearts, last night I was listening to the song 'El Rey' and remembering Bob a lot," wrote Rosaurora and Hector Ocadiz. "How good that his family brought him the music that he loved so much and that reminded him of so many people with such affection. A hug for his children and grandchildren and for all of you our dear friends, to continue with what he left us."

Athenour is survived by his daughter Anne Athenour Martin and son Tom Athenour and their families. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Marilyn, and his son Karl Athenour.

The family is going to hold a private Mass and interment due to the pandemic, but they said they plan to hold larger celebrations of life in Pleasanton and Tulancingo when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Comments

Larry Valenzin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:26 am
Larry Valenzin, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:26 am

RIP Señor Bob,
You lived a life worth living.


Chip Ulatoski
Registered user
Highland Oaks
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:26 pm
Chip Ulatoski , Highland Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:26 pm

RIP Bob. Hayzee and I have missed visiting you. Your smile and caring will be missed.


Kevin Hart
Registered user
Amador Valley High School
on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:22 pm
Kevin Hart, Amador Valley High School
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:22 pm

When the history of Pleasanton is written, there will be a chapter devoted to Señor Athenour. From the legions of students he taught Spanish at Amador Valley, many of whom made Spanish their major in college and an integral part of their careers, to the sister city relationship he developed and nurtured with Tulancingo, to his travel agency, to his work with the wheelchair project and I’m sure many more activities and involvements of which I am unaware. I was one of the privileged to have him as my Spanish teacher. He was warm and genuine and made the time in class fly by. Even though I didn’t keep up with Spanish, I think I remember more from that class than any other in high school. I was lucky to be able to catch up with him years after I graduated and I could listen to his stories all day if I had the chance. It was always a treat to be driving around town and pull up behind his car with the license plate Sr. Bob. He lived a life that anyone would be proud of. My condolences to Tom and Anne. We will not soon see the likes of him again.


Alex Breen
Registered user
Birdland
on Aug 20, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Alex Breen, Birdland
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2020 at 3:07 pm

I feel very fortunate to have gotten the chance to know Bob while he was living at Creekview Assisted Living at the same time my mother was. Most days when I'd visit my mom, I'd find Bob sitting out under the front veranda, basking in the sun. Whenever I'd see him, he'd shake my hand warmly with his two hands, we'd engage in a bit of conversation, and he'd always ask about how my mom was doing. Our conversations always filled me with warmth and he conveyed a feeling of peace and happiness. I often worried about my mom, but Bob made me feel that she was living in a friendly, caring place, with kind people. Bob touched my life, as it sounds like he did for many people, and I will miss him greatly.


Doug Miller
Registered user
Ironwood
on Aug 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm
Doug Miller, Ironwood
Registered user
on Aug 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm

A wonderfully friendly and kind person. Rest in Peace


Penny Pickens
Registered user
Downtown
on Aug 23, 2020 at 8:20 am
Penny Pickens, Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 23, 2020 at 8:20 am

Rest In Peace dear Bob.


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