Antonio Cardona, age 90 of Palm Desert, CA passed away peacefully on August 21, 2019. We will miss his sharp mind, devotion to family and tireless generosity.
Antonio, the oldest son of Fortunato and Domitila Cardona was born and raised with his two siblings, Nicholas and Carolina, in Santa Barbara.
Antonio left Santa Barbara High School and joined the US Navy where he served for five years during the Korean War. He returned to California on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Boxer in his dress whites sailing under the Golden Gate bridge to the tune of “California here I come”.
After an honorable discharge, he returned to Santa Barbara where he met and later married a young teacher, Lois Byllesby. It is not entirely clear if he really believed he would become superman if he married a girl named Lois, or if he had other reasons. Antonio graduated from Santa Barbara City College, UCSB and USC to become a teacher, like Lois. He taught English as a second language after graduation and went on to have a long career in education. He served as a teacher in the Santa Barbara city schools (Franklin and Peabody) and then as principal in elementary and high schools in Leone (American Samoa), Indio (California), Dhahran, Khamis Mushyt, KKMC (Saudi Arabia), and Buenos Aires (Argentina). He detoured into higher levels of educational administration in Hanford, California where he worked as one of the first directors of migrant education and later in American Samoa where he helped to found the first institution of higher education on the islands, American Samoa Community College. Some notable achievements in his career occurred when he oversaw the start of the legendary Leone Lions football program, and helped to develop one of the first systems to track migrant children through schools so that their records could move with them.
Antonio loved his life, his friends and his family. He and Lois wanted to see the world, so they did. He wasn’t crazy about gardening, hair in curlers or cats although he “made exceptions”. He loved tapioca, dancing and lemon meringue pie.
Survived by, Lois, his wife of 65 years and 51 weeks, children, Harold (Lisa) Cardona (Noblesville, IN), Carol (Zheng Xing) Cardona (St. Paul, MN), grandchildren, Emily, Allison, Eileen, Laney, great grandson Sullivan and many friends and extended family. A memorial of Antonio’s life will be held at 4 pm, Oct. 5 at 1022 E. Mason St.