Seaholm High School in Birmingham is mourning the loss of one of its own this week, after special education teacher Frank Ventrella passed away Sunday.
Ventrella, 53, a 25-year Seaholm instructor and Northville resident, passed away after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. During his years with Birmingham Public Schools, Ventrella worked extensively with the district's Autistic Education Program.
"(Frank Ventrella) had a positive impact on hundreds of students' lives during his tenure," a note from Seaholm principal Deanna Lancaster said. "Frank was a compassionate and caring man with a great sense of humor."
"Even after enduring several grueling rounds of chemotherapy, Frank returned to Seaholm this fall to teach his students," Lancaster added.
Already, Ventrella's family and friends had taken to Twitter and Ventrella's obituary page to honor Ventrella's memory on Monday and Tuesday.
"I hoped I wouldn't see this day for another 40 years. RIP cousin Frank Ventrella," tweeted Gabrielle Fazio Sunday.
"Mr. Ventrella I will miss you," tweeted Lauren Vermillion. "You have made a huge impact on my life. We will see each other again in the end."
"I am so sorry to hear of Frank's passing," writes Karin Schamber of Milford on Ventrella's obituary. "My heart goes out to your family especially at this time of year. May you know that many warm thoughts and prayers are with you in the days ahead."
Despite undergoing intense cancer treatments, Ventrella himself was active on Twitter in the weeks leading up to his death, connecting with students after returning to Seaholm in August. Ventrella took medical leave from Seaholm in April.
"Fantastic coworkers make for a good return back to work! I am a lucky man at home and at work. Truly blessed," Ventrella tweeted on Sept. 6.
Ventrella and his wife Lisa had three children, Gina, Tony and Ellie. He also leaves behind his parents Joseph and Mary and his siblings, Michael and Joan.
A viewing was held from 2-9 p.m. Tuesday at the Northrop Sassaman Funeral Home at 19091 Northville Road in Northville. A prayer service was held at 7 p.m.
A funeral service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, located at 47650 N. Territorial Road in Plymouth. In-state begins at 9:30 a.m. with the funeral service and mass scheduled for 10:30 a.m. A wake will follow.
All donations can be made to the Unlimited Strides Scholarship Fund in care of Frank Ventrella.