A recent Daly City Council meeting became unusually emotional as a beloved former mayor who is fighting cancer was honored for his years of service to the community.
Albert Teglia, the civic leader who earned the nickname "Mr. Daly City," and his wife recently left their longtime Peninsula residence and moved to Roseville. At the council meeting, Teglia was presented with a proclamation declaring his birthday, June 27, to be Al Teglia Day.
Teglia cried as he said goodbye to the city he loves.
Councilman Mike Guingona, who once ran against Teglia for mayor, said, "A word of caution to anybody who wants to run against Al: Al doesn't lose."
Vice Mayor David Canepa praised Teglia for spearheading the county's Jobs for Youth program, and for serving on the SamTrans board of directors — where he said Teglia made courageous decisions.
Councilman Sal Torres told Teglia, "In my career, I've always felt that if I could be half the man you were, I would be successful."
Another story came from Councilwoman Carol Klatt, who said that when she once complained about a city department not doing its job, Teglia told her to go serve on that agency's commission and do something about it.
Joseph Curran, the director of the city's Department of Library and Recreation Services, said Teglia was instrumental in the formation of both Caltrain and SamTrans.
Teglia said he and wife Frances, who are both 82, moved to a senior-friendly home in Roseville because the stairs in their multistory Daly City home had become increasingly challenging. He said they also wanted to live closer to Frances' son and grandson, and he cited the high cost of homes in San Mateo County as another reason for the move.
Teglia was born in Colma in 1931 and moved with his family to Daly City in 1949. Between 1978 and 1993, he served as mayor four times. His first wife, Verna, was his high school sweetheart.
Curran said that prior to Verna's death in 2006, Teglia had been her caregiver. He said that when Teglia married longtime family friend Frances Foglia in 2008, he got a new lease on life.
"I've never seen another human just blossom like that, especially at that stage of their life," said Curran.
The five City Council members were together when they learned Teglia had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, and they were visibly shaken by the news. Teglia, however, said the cancer appears to be under control. He said he received the diagnosis in late summer and has already had surgery.
Teglia, who is Catholic, is philosophical about facing his own mortality. He said, "I contemplate and I talk to my God and say, 'If this is what you want, and my life hasn't been all that great in your opinion, that's fine. On the other hand, if you like what I've done and you'd like to give me a chance to keep on helping people, I'd really appreciate it.'"
Teglia has always advocated for volunteerism, and he said Daly City could meet its challenges by inspiring its citizens to work together.
"You've got all the resources in the world," he said. "You've got the people. There's no magic to this. The only magic you have is in your hands, and in the hands of the people."