By Bill Tamburrino
Frank James Motta, principal at Ramona High School from 1990 to 1993, died on Thursday, March 15, after being attacked by a suspect while trying to break up a party at a neighbor’s house.
Motta, 65, died at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.
Motta had retired from education and had moved to the Spokane area where he had been volunteering at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Center since 2009. He was hired as a patient advocate four months ago.
Motta coordinated with all areas of the hospital to ensure that veterans got the best possible service available, according to Sunii Wadhwqan, a spokesperson for the center. Motta’s wife, Virginia, and his daughter, Jami, also volunteer there.
According to Deputy Craig Chamberlin, a spokesperson for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, Motta was attacked by a partygoer while trying to break up a party at his neighbors’ house Saturday night, March 10. The neighbor was out of town and had asked Motta to clear out the party.
An 18-year-old suspect with gang affiliations was arrested on an assault charge, officials reported. He reportedly showed no remorse for his actions in a television interview recorded before Motta’s death. The charge could be upgraded to a murder charge due to Motta’s death.
Motta, 65, was an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War. He had a career in education that lasted over 30 years. He was an English teacher, football coach, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendant.
Mel Galli, who retired from the Ramona Unified School District after working as a teacher, coach, athletic director, and assistant principal, said he worked with Motta at several schools.
“I was a junior varsity coach at Workman High School in La Puente and Frank was a first year teacher,” said Galli. “He asked if he could be my assistant coach. He was so energetic and such a hard worker. When I got my first varsity job in Granger, Wash., he came with me as a varsity assistant. When I moved to Othello, Wash., he also remained on my staff.
“Ironically, he came to Ramona as our principal when I was a varsity football coach. He mentored me and got me into administration.
“He got totally involved in everything he did. He didn’t do anything halfway. At times he rubbed people the wrong way, but you always knew where he stood and what he stood for. He was an educator and a humanitarian. I bet that he went all out helping those vets in Washington.”