In Memory of

Dean

J.

Bergeron

Obituary for Dean J. Bergeron

Dean Joseph Bergeron died in Boston, MA on December 9, 2023. He is survived by his three sons, Michael, Matthew, and Don, and his dearest friend, his caretaker, his everything, Jose.

Dean was born in a farmhouse in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom on February 6, 1939, to Chloe and Joseph Bergeron. He received his early schooling in a one-room schoolhouse in Barton, where he was taught by his mother and where he first learned to teach other young people. Later, attending high school in Orleans, he encountered teachers and mentors that encouraged him to pursue his passion for history and education. Over time, this only child, lovingly mocked as spoiled by his many cousins, grew to be a selfless and giving teacher and mentor.

After studying Education at St. Michael’s College, Dean received his graduate training in History at Villanova and Brown University. Between the two graduate programs he briefly taught at the high school in Windsor, Vermont. It was there that his gift for touching the lives of students—even the most wayward among them—was first tested. When the superintendent assigned Dean to the most hardscrabble class, the principal scoffed that he wouldn’t last a week. Instead, Dean’s humor, authenticity and unique style of tough love quickly earned him the respect of the students and the dedication of the 1964 yearbook by the graduating class.

In 1965 Dean received a teaching appointment at Lowell State College—the future South Campus of UMass Lowell—where he taught history and political science for more than 40 years. Over that time, he pursued multiple causes outside the university, including the peace movement of the 1960s, George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, and the creation of a Franciscan community called Bethany House that provided hospice care for AIDS patients in the late 1980s.
In 1984, Dean started the initiative that he is best known for and the one for which he was most proud – Lowell’s Model United Nations Program. Since then, hundreds of students from the University have competed in national and international tournaments related to global peace and security. In the end, however, it is through his students that Dean’s heart, his vision, and his legacy live on.

Someone once said that students don’t care what you know until they know that you care. This was Dean’s gift. Dean dedicated his life to the intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth of young people. Because he could always find the kernels of potential that they couldn’t recognize in themselves, many speak about their journeys as “Before Dean” and “After Dean.”

In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to UMass Lowell in support of the Dean Bergeron and Joyce Denning Endowment Fund. Donations can be made online at www.alumni.uml.edu/deanbergeron or mailed to : UMass Lowell Advancement Office, 45 Lawrence Drive, Lowell, MA, 01854. Checks should be made payable to UMass Lowell and note that the gift is in memory of Dean Bergeron.

Private Services will be held in Newport, VT in the summer of 2024.