Sunday, January 15, 2012

Remembering Doc Berger


DeSmet Jesuit High School lost one of its greatest teachers this past week. Dr. Patrick Berger---lovingly referred to as "Doc" by just about everyone who knew him---was the rare breed of teacher who melded education and entertainment so seamlessly that it was easy to forget how much we were learning in between all the laughs.

Doc was as exuberant as they come, no matter what challenge lay at hand. He introduced us to great American authors---from Hawthorne to Fitzgerald---with the same vehemence that he employed to rally the troops for our annual calendar sales. We all welcomed his morning announcements orations with smiles and chuckles; the greatest tragedy is that we never thought to record his rich monologues and set the audio to a medley of inspirational movie speeches---the Youtube hits could have been gastronomical. Truly, Rome may have had Cicero, and England, Churchill, but we had Doc. There was no equal.

In his wisdom, Doc also knew that grading high school English papers was a dish best paired with a cold glass of scotch---or perhaps an entire bottle or two...we were never quite sure. But the advice was valuable, and the individual concern always evident. Doc met us where we were and encouraged growth from there. In doing so, he won the respect of everyone. His infectious laugh was matched only by his enthusiasm for the subjects he taught, and I'd like to think we were all the better for it.

In memory of Doc Berger and his unparalleled spirit, I've put together the above portrait---an attempt to capture the Doc that I knew best. I am sure that his spirit will live on in all who had him as a teacher, and all who knew him as a friend. May he rest in peace while we carry on his passion.


If you would like to read more about Doc, feel free to view this obituary at stltoday.com.

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