Pleasanton high school mourning sudden death of beloved teacher

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- A high school in Pleasanton is mourning the death of a beloved teacher, who passed away the day after he retired.

Eric Thiel was only 65 years old with a long bucket list. And now, his colleagues have set up a GoFund Me page for his family.

Thiel's death came as a surprise to teachers and staff at Amador Valley High in Pleasanton. Everyone here agrees dying unexpectedly the day after you retire is not what should happen.

Zack Thiel is one of his sons. "I talked to him after the graduation ceremony they had on Friday and he was going out to celebrate," he said.

The 65-year-old biology teacher died the following day. So far, the cause of death has not been determined.

On Sunday, he was meant to go see the play "Hamilton" with another teacher, Dennis Aquilina.

"Eric was just full of life, full of happiness. I was his other side, crazy from New York, had the attitude and he would always be positive and say, 'Common, we have to go get there,'" Aquilina said.

He spent 38 years teaching, 25 of those at Amador. He brought AP biology to the school and won numerous awards, including Educator of the Year, awarded by the National Society of High School Scholars.

Aquilina showed ABC7 all the comments left by other teachers and students on Thiel's Facebook page. "His influence was insane. I didn't expect that at all and it makes me extremely proud of him," Zack Thiel said.

School is out for the summer, but many have dropped by to leave flowers.

Tom Hall, who also retired the same day, said Thiel had many plans. "He was going to spend time with the family. We were going to spend more time on our bicycles. I was going to get a paddle board, he was going to get a paddle board," he said.

A GoFund Me page was set up by another teacher. Thiel leaves behind a wife, four children and two grandchildren.

Click here to donate to the GoFundMe account.
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