(~1918 - 2007)

A lasting love for Burlingame

By Heather Murtagh, San Mateo Daily Journal

February 7, 2007

Victor Mangini had a passion and love for all things Burlingame.

The 88-year-old left his mark all over the city by working with students at the high school in both academics and the athletic field, leading the City Council as mayor four times during his 20-year tenure and just getting to know those in the community. Burlingame lost this former Citizen of the Year when he died Sunday afternoon (February 4, 2007).

Despite his love for the suburban wonderland, Mangini began life in an urban metropolis on the other side of the continent. Mangini was born and raised in Manhattan’s East Side where his father was a waiter and his mother worked as a milk lady handing out pure milk to school children. He was one of five children.

Mangini received his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and his teaching credential and master’s degree from Columbia University. Shortly after Columbia, Mangini was called to serve in World War II. Mangini was assigned to the Presidio as a training officer for the Army Air Force after training. Mangini retired from the Air Force as a colonel after 37 years of service in 1978, said his daughter Mariavittoria Mangini.

Mangini was concerned that so many young people were leaving the area while he served in San Francisco, so he looked for a local place to stay. The father of a member of Mangini’s squadron was the first postmaster in Burlingame and encouraged Mangini to consider the Peninsula city.

Mangini was hired as a history teacher and coach in 1946. He would serve the school for 44 years as a teacher, a coach and an administrator. Sports played a part in Mangini’s life from an early stage. He played football at Manhattan College. Mangini played on a two semi-professional teams, one for football the other for baseball, said his son Martin Jerome “Jerry” Mangini. He was an Eastern Army All Star.

When Mangini began work at Burlingame High School, coaching was a part of the job description. He was assistant football coach and head track coach from the beginning. His coaching years were legendary. In football, Burlingame topped San Mateo for 11 years straight. He served as dean of boys for the class of 1955 and 1958 before becoming assistant principal in 1958.

His work inspired the title of Citizen of the Year in 1957 — the city’s 50th anniversary. This title made Mangini really excited about participating in the upcoming centennial event, said daughter Mariavittoria Mangini.

Mangini retired in 1980 but continued to volunteer with the English as a second language program for a while.

Mangini began his work in city affairs on the Parks and Recreation Commission. He was appointed to the City Council after the death of Councilman Eddie George — a position he held until 1989.

Mangini led a full family life as well. He met his future wife, Rina Sari, in 1948. The couple married later that year after dating for six weeks. They had two children together — Mariavittoria and Martin — and were married for 27 years. Rina lost a battle with breast cancer in 1975. Mangini remarried in 1976 to Grace Cecelia Mangini. Grace passed away in 2003. Mangini is survived by his two children and his brother George Mangini of Manhattan.

Mangini was also headed the scholarship selection committee for the C. A. Buck Foundation encouraging Burlingame youth to pursue higher education for 55 years.

“He was Mr. Burlingame,” said Bud Harrison, a long-time friend and former mayor. “Even in his final couple of months we asked him if he wanted to go to a convalescent home. There’s one on the corner of Peninsula Avenue and El Camino Real. He would not hear of it. He said, ‘that’s not Burlingame.’”

His dedication to the city, citizens and youth didn’t go unnoticed. In 2001, the City Council voted to name the circle street in front of Burlingame High School after Mangini. The school was given a new address of 1 Mangini Way in June 2001.

One of former mayor Joe Galligan’s proudest moments was as mayor in 2001 when he presided of the dedication of Mangini Way. The event brought Mangini to tears.

The two knew each other for more than 50 years. Galligan attended summer school at Burlingame High School when Mangini was teaching there. Mangini called to offer Galligan support after hearing his announcement to run for City Council in 1997.

“[Mangini] received his last rights more than once, but always ended up going home,” Galligan said. “It kind of showed how much he loved life.”

In 2001, Mangini was inducted into the San Mateo County Sports Hall of Fame. “It was such a big honor. He was compelled to recognize the older guys who helped him and he had looked up to,” said his son. “He took up half the time allotted [for everyone to talk]. When he was finished someone said, ‘you can all wake up now.’ Anything Burlingame was his love and his passion. He was a father figure to so many people.”

His children are constantly recognized around town and told how much their father meant to the community. Jerry Mangini is being approached on the street by those who want to pay respects. Just after sharing a sad moment, the people begin to laugh, he said, as they remember his father.

“He was a neat guy,” he said. “He was the guy you wanted to sit next at lunch; that you wanted at your house to watch a ball game and have a beer; Or back you up in war. ... He was a hell of a guy.”