Norm Clevenger

Norm Clevenger

Former Santa Ynez Valley Union High School principal Norm Clevenger was remembered Monday for his love of the Pirates and his devotion to the wider community.

Clevenger, 67, died at his home Sept. 8 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, his family said Monday.

He worked 40 years in high school education as a teacher, coach, counselor, vice principal and principal.

But his nine years at Santa Ynez Valley High School made him a huge supporter of the Pirates, as he attended as many games as possible. 

“He loved Santa Ynez high school,” said Scott Cory, current superintendent of the high school district, calling Clevenger the “heart and soul” of the school for students and staff.

English teacher Jeff Reck, who worked at the school when Clevenger served as principal, called him “a steady, rock-solid principal.” 

“He kind of reminded of just dad,” Reck said. “You didn’t want to do something stupid or screw things up. But he did it in a real gentlemanly way. He was a good guy. More the Atticus Finch approach than the heavy-handed approach.”

Clevenger’s stint at Santa Ynez Valley ended abruptly in 2008 when a former superintendent said his principal’s contract would not be renewed. A few days later, Clevenger was placed on administrative leave and escorted out of the building.

Upset parents filled the auditorium to urge the school board to renew Clevenger’s contract, and launched a recall attempt against the board members.

However, organizers suspended the recall effort when Clevenger was hired as principal of San Marcos High School near Goleta in 2008. He retired in 2011.

In a football game last month pitting Santa Marcos against Santa Ynez, the inaugural Norm Clevenger MVP Award was handed out in honor of the schools’ former principal.

A perpetual plaque will be kept in the winning team’s display case, Santa Barbara Unified School District representatives said. 

Clevenger also was active in the wider Santa Ynez Valley community, participating in Solvang Rotary, including serving tri-tip sandwiches at Old Santa Ynez Days, working behind the gaming tables at Monte Carlo Night and coordinating the entrants in the annual Fourth of July Parade.

“He was all about the valley,” Cory said.

He loved golfing and served on the board of the Alisal Ranch Men’s Club.

Clevenger graduated from Capuchino High School,in San Bruno, California, where he excelled in football and baseball.

He went on to the College of San Mateo, before transferring to UC Berkeley, where he received a bachelor’s degree in biology. He earned a master’s degree in education from United States International University.

He is survived by his wife, Jan, current president of the high school district board of directors; stepsons Brian Jenkins (Tabatha) of Los Alamos and Brett Jenkins (Ashley) of Buellton; mother-in-law Barbara Albertoni of Solvang, sisters-in-law Nancy Wirz (Pat) of Hollister and Ellen Albertoni of Santa Ynez; brother-in-law Joseph Albertoni of Honolulu; and five grandchildren.

At Clevenger’s request, no services are planned.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations may be made to Visiting Nurses/Hospice Care of Santa Barbara or the Norm Clevenger Scholarship Fund at the Rabobank branch in Solvang.

Arrangements are under the care of Loper Funeral Chapel in Solvang.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.