A photo of Calvin Kitchen watches over the audience during a memorial for the longtime Gilroy High School campus supervisor on July 8. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Calvin Kitchen could always be counted on to provide sound advice to anyone struggling with an issue, as well as bringing the barbecue sauce to any party.

But even though he moved away from his home state of Florida decades ago, he remained a Miami Dolphins fan for life. It baffles everyone who knew him to this day.

The beloved Gilroy High School campus supervisor, who made the rounds on the campus and greeted generations of students over the past 19 years, died on June 18 after a battle with prostate and spine cancer. He was 59.

Kitchen’s friends and family gathered at Centennial Circle on the Gilroy High campus July 8 for a memorial organized by the school that included a 21-gun salute by VFW Post #6309, speakers and music. Attendees also helped pour dirt on a tree planted in the school’s quad that memorializes Kitchen.

After the ceremony, friends and family gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Gilroy for a barbecue.

Kitchen was born in the Florida Keys on Oct. 30, 1961, and enlisted in the army when he was 22 in 1983. He was stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and later served in Operation Just Cause in Panama.

He moved to Monterey in 1992 where he was stationed at Fort Ord. It was there he met Aurora at a dance party. According to his obituary, it was the last song of the night and both of them were just about to leave when he saw her there, “looking perfect” and as she described him as, “he looked so cute.” They were married for 30 years. 

Kitchen is survived by his wife, Aurora, five brothers, two sisters, 39 nieces and nephews and countless friends.

Kitchen’s niece Jessica Gudino said her uncle was a gentle soul who not only protected his family, but also the students at Gilroy High.

“It came easy to Calvin to pour everything he had, not only into his barbecue sauce, but to every role he embraced throughout his life,” she said. “He was naturally drawn to the role of protector.”

Gudino added that Kitchen may have put on a tough exterior, but he was “cuddly on the inside.” She recalled a time when she was younger, saying that she told her uncle to quit smoking because it was bad for his health. Gudino said she recently learned that Kitchen quit smoking soon after, because he wanted to protect his family.

“We were like daughters to our tío, and he was like a father to us,” she said.

Nephew Justin Rojas said some of his fondest memories were when Kitchen would take the cousins for a walk at Las Animas Park after school, as well as later in life chatting about the San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors. He remained hopeful that the family converted his uncle to the Bay Area teams.

“He’ll always be missed and never forgotten,” Rojas said.

Former Gilroy High Assistant Principal Bruce Corbett worked with Kitchen for eight years.

“He wanted to greet every student every day,” he said. “Everyone was treated with respect and most of all, politeness.”

Fellow campus supervisor Jessica Sustaita was part of the panel that hired Kitchen 19 years ago.

“I probably will never meet a person like Calvin again,” she said. “I will miss him dearly, but I know Calvin will have my back every day.”

Previous articlePolice blotter, July 5-10, 2021: Pair of attempted robberies
Next articleGilroy insurance agent found guilty of repeated sexual assault
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here