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Hart High employee dies of cancer

• Vincent Renteria loved to ride Harleys

Posted: June 20, 2008 2:55 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Vincent Renteria, a Hart High campus supervisor, died after a 3 1/2-year battle with brain cancer. He was known for his beloved Road King Classic Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Something will be missing from the Hart High School campus this fall.

No longer will students hear the rumble of Campus Supervisor Vincent Renteria's Road King Classic Harley Davidson motorcycle, which let everyone know he was coming as he rode onto campus to park in his reserved spot by the school office.

A popular fixture at Hart High, Renteria died June 10 after a 3 1/2-year battle with brain cancer.

He was 46.

"Vincent was very good with the kids - he had that imposing look with his bald head and his goatee, but he connected with the kids and he did a great job for us," said Hart Principal Collyn Nielsen. "He was really a big teddy bear."

Renteria was hired at Hart High during the summer of 2004, and kept working after he was diagnosed in January 2005 and while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

"He went above and beyond. Even when he was sick, he helped out a parent in the parking lot who was having a seizure," Nielsen said. "That's just one example of the many amazing things he did at Hart High School."

The Valencia resident was active in the community, riding his Harley in charity events like the Love Ride with his wife, Tammy, and volunteering at Carousel Ranch, a local nonprofit organization that provides therapy on horseback.

"He's the kind of guy who would be here for every event helping out. If he ever saw any of us ladies trying to pick up something heavy, he would run over and pick it up for us - he was quite a gentleman like that," said Denise Tomey, executive director of Carousel Ranch. "He was a caring man who really believed in giving back, and he instilled that in his family.

"His son, Vinnie, is here volunteering today."

After Renteria got sick, he still wanted to help out at the ranch, so Tomey tried to get him to help out in the office.

"He didn't want that - he wanted to be out there doing physical work," she said. "He was such an amazing man with such a big heart."

Renteria was a father of three: Vincent III (Vinnie), 18; Ashley, 12; and Justin, 6.

"He raised three beautiful children, and he will continue to be their angel," said Renteria's widow, Tammy Renteria. Vincent and Tammy had been together for 29 years and were married for 19 of those years.

"We had a reunification of our marriage in the last days of his life, and I was at Vince's side when he died," Tammy said. "He was a wonderful husband and father."

The Renteria's daughter, Ashley, was born with cerebral palsy, but she is doing well and recently promoted from a local elementary school.

"Her life was challenged, but through our dedication Ashley has beaten all the odds," Tammy said.

Vinnie is a graduate of Golden Valley High School and attends the Los Angeles Fire Department Explorer program. Justin, the youngest, misses his father, but is holding up well, Tammy said.

"He's got a heart just like his father, and he's just handling all of this so well," she said.

Renteria had been undergoing experimental treatments at UCLA Medical Center's neuro-oncology department with the hope that what doctors learned from his case would help someone else, Tammy said.

"His wishes were that his treatment at UCLA would help others," she said.

Tammy plans to be an advocate for caregivers of people who have cancer.

"I want to help people who are walking the same steps with their loved ones who have cancer," Tammy said.

A memorial service scheduled for Saturday in Granada Hills will be a celebration of Renteria's life.

"He never wasted a minute - he would spend time with his family or help out the kids at Carousel Ranch," Tammy said. "We want to celebrate his life. It's what he wanted."


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