Don Bordenave (Sept. 27, 1930 — March 8, 2022) had a track record that few could beat; college football star and possibly the longest-serving educator in Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD). Bordenave died on March 8 at the age of 82.
Bordenave’s career in SCUSD began in 1956 when he began teaching at Santa Clara High School. He went on to become the school’s assistant principal and retired as principal in 1991. Bordenave was first elected to the school board in 1992 and served until 2012.
“Many people relied on Don’s leadership, mentorship and friendship during his time with the district,” said SCUSD Trustee Andrew Ratermann, who served alongside Bordenave for many years.
“He was so valuable because he had 56 years with our school district. We used to joke that he was like that E.F. Hutton commercial,” said Ratermann. “When he spoke – and he didn’t speak often – people listened. He had the best insight, and he was straightforward and candid. He will be much missed.”
It wasn’t just Bordenave’s educational experience that earned him such high regard. It was also his many kindnesses to the people he worked and served with. For example, when Trustee Gloria Moss became wheelchair-bound as a result of Parkinson’s disease, Bordenave went out of his way to bring her to and from meetings.
“Sometimes he could seem gruff, but he’s always there when people need him,” District Administrative Assistant Cathy VanPernis told The Weekly when Bordenave retired. “He really cared about people. He did things behind the scenes to help people out, but they never would know about it. He didn’t like to take credit.”
A graduate of Santa Clara University (SCU), Bordenave was also a college football star who played in the SCU Broncos’ 1950 Orange Bowl Championship. Bordenave spent over 25 years as a volunteer assistant coach for Pat Malley at the university. In 1977 Bordenave was inducted into the Bronco Bench Foundation Hall of Fame.
Bordenave also served in the Korean War after graduation.
Bordenave leaves three children and several grandchildren. Visitation will be at Lima Mortuary, North Winchester Blvd. March 29 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a Rosary at 7 p.m. A funeral mass will be celebrated on March 30 at 11 a.m. at St. Justin’s on Homestead Road.