'Like a second father': Former St. Charles High School athletic director Bergeson dies at 91
A couple of years ago, one of Paul Bergeson's former students approached his son and said, "Your dad believed in me when nobody else believed in me."
That moment has become one of Dave Bergeson's fondest and most exemplary memories of his father, an esteemed former athletic director, educator and coach at St. Charles High School. Paul retired in 1988 after serving St. Charles Unit District 303 for 38 years.
"He loved his job because of all the people he met and the relationships he formed with his students and other teachers," Dave Bergeson said. "We've had a lot of people (recently) come up to us and say my father was like a second father to them."
Paul Bergeson, 91, died Monday after a recent fall in his apartment, his son said. His family now is celebrating the life of a devoted family man, an avid outdoorsman and a teacher in every sense of the word.
"The reason people loved to be around him was because his eyes always reflected to you the best of you," said his daughter, Carol Yunkes. "He always saw the good in people, and he'd point it out to you."
A lifelong resident of the Fox Valley area, Bergeson graduated in 1945 from Batavia High School, where he was class president and a track and field star. He married his high school sweetheart, Ethyl, three years later; they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in August.
After attending Illinois State University, Bergeson started in 1950 as an economics and government teacher at St. Charles High School, now the Thompson Middle School campus. In the yearbook, the Class of 1957 dedicated their academic year to him, Dave Bergeson said.
Paul Bergeson later served as head coach for track and field, as well as cross country, and went on to become the school's athletic director for more than 20 years, his family said. He was inducted into the Illinois Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the St. Charles East High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The school also named a regional track meet after him.
In addition to his work, Bergeson loved fishing, camping and bird-watching, his family said, noting he was active in the Kane County Audubon Society. He also was involved in the St. Charles Kiwanis Club and was a member of the local American Legion.
But it was Bergeson's patience and compassion that left the greatest mark on his family and community, his children said.
"He always said, 'Everybody deserves your respect. Everybody deserves a voice,'" said his son, Bill Bergeson. "He was something special. ... He lived that life, and he walked that walk every day, and I'm so proud of him."
In addition to his wife and three children, Paul Bergeson is survived by a fourth child, Susan Bergeson; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by a daughter, Barbara Schoo, and two brothers.
Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Moss Family Funeral Home, 209 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia. He will lie in state at 10 a.m. Friday until funeral services begin at 11 a.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, 8 S. Lincoln St., Batavia. Interment will be in the West Batavia Cemetery.