Memorial service held for Fresno City College President Tony Cantu

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A memorial service in honor of the 10th president of Fresno City College was held on Friday afternoon.

Tony Cantu, 64, died over the Easter weekend. The Fresno State graduate worked for the State Center Community College District for nearly 30 years -- most recently as president of FCC.

It was standing room only at St. John's Cathedral in Downtown Fresno, where the priest told friends, family, and colleagues about the man of education who found potential in his students. His was a life taken too soon and unexpectedly.

One of those former students was just named acting president in Cantu's absence. Cheryl Sullivan emotionally remembered the man who had such an impact on both her personal and professional life.

"He was always supportive, and I think across the board he was about bringing everybody up. Whether it was just getting us into classes, or making us feel supported in our jobs, I think he was really there for everyone," said Sullivan.

Sullivan also admired his wholehearted approach to the students whom he wanted so desperately to help succeed -- so much so that he'd contribute his own finances for trips, performances and athletics.

"He really believed and he put his money where he said he believed. He really wanted our students to have that national platform and that statewide platform and to really bring that back to Fresno," said Sullivan.

And while much of this week has been shadowed with grief, many are trying their best to remember the good times -- the things that made Cantu the well-loved person that he was.

"We'd always end up having conversations about how much he loved cereal and how much he loved pasta and how much we both needed to lose weight," educational advisor Ernie Garcia said.

Garcia worked closely with Cantu in the student services office and says he'll always remember his laugh and his treatment of others.

"I'm just gonna miss, you know, the way he really cared about students, and he really valued everybody that he worked with," said Garcia.

They say he's paved the way for current and future students at FCC, beefed up the transfer rate, making sure everyone has a clear path in and out of city college. It's a vision that Sullivan says will be furthered; only now, it will be in Cantu's memory.

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