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Community remembers influential instructors with game trophies

on September 17, 2011

After two cross-town rivals battled it out in a lopsided first half of football Friday night, the Richmond community took time to remember two former instructors by naming two annual game trophies in their honor.

Richmond High School Assistant Principal Kibby Kleiman presented the Sylvester Greenwood Cup as the prize trophy for the annual Richmond High School and Kennedy High School football game, in honor of the late Sylvester Greenwood. He also announced the newly established Dolly Felix Cup, which will be awarded to the winner of the Richmond-Kennedy boys’ basketball game, in honor of the late Dolores Felix.

Greenwood, a former teacher and interim superintendent, passed away in early June at age 66, due to complications with diabetes, according to Felix, who taught physical education and coached everything from basketball to badminton, died in late June at age 79, after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

“It’s a blow,” said Kleiman, who knew both instructors. “It’s a double blow.”

Kleiman said Felix graduated from Richmond but began working at Kennedy when it first opened in 1967, and remained active at the school, continuing to coach badminton until the very last years of her life.

“This whole area owes a great deal of gratitude to Dolly,” Kleiman said. “She was Kennedy High – she was here when they built the place.”

Greenwood, who began his 38-year tenure with the district as a security guard, served the school district in various capacities, including principal of Kennedy and assistant superintendent, reported.

Kleiman said Greenwood’s calm demeanor and big heart left a lasting impact in Richmond through what the community called the “Greenwood kids,” troubled students to whom he devoted extra attention.

“He was a rock, very solid through the years, through a lot of changes,” Kleiman said.

Greenwood’s daughter Sylvia Greenwood, the principal of DeJean Middle School, received a plaque Friday night commemorating her father’s service to the school district.

“He was very strong and fair with those students, and he really cared about this district and the outcomes for the students in this district,” she said.

Kennedy English teacher Ian Bader said he remembers well the student-teacher badminton tournaments Felix would organize each year.

“I hated it,” Bader said, jokingly. “She took these little kids and said, ‘Hey, you wanna play? Oh yeah, I’m gonna wipe the court with you.’… And they – they kick our butts.”

Kleiman said Felix, who served as athletic director at Kennedy, developed the school’s badminton program from scratch and eventually brought the North Coast Section tournament to the school.

“I’ve been here so long it doesn’t even seem weird anymore,” Kleiman said, admitting he was at first amused at the thought of a high school badminton program.

Kleiman said the idea behind the two namesake trophies was to create a way for the community to continually recognize the two figures who had touched the community, especially through their passion for athletics.

“(They were) just great role models – both of them,” Kleiman said. “You lose so much communal history, so much institutional memory.”

The Kennedy Eagles left the field Friday night with the first Greenwood Cup, after a 73-18 win over the Richmond Oilers.

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