Time to Celebrate The Impact of A Beloved Educator–Charlie Bjerregaard

Former Science Teacher and Principal Charlie Bjerregaard should be remembered for the legacy of love for science and a strong Christian foundation that he provided thousands of students at Richmond’s Luther Memorial School.

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Charles Bjerregaard
Charles Bjerregaard

RICHMOND, Va.–  I just did an Internet search on the name “Charles Bjerregaard” or “Charlie Bjerregaard” and only an obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch comes up.

So, on this day that we, his former students, family and friends gathered to celebrate his life,  I thought those on the World Wide Web ought to know how great Charles Edward Bjerregaard was.

A memorial service was held this afternoon at Richmond’s Trinity Lutheran Church for the 66-year-old Bjerregaard, who served as both a teacher and principal at Luther Memorial School, where I attended both elementary school and middle school.

I am so glad I was in town and could attend the service and speak one-on-one with Mr. Bjerregaard’s two children, Sean and Shannon, who were playmates of mine and my brother, Gerald when we all attended Luther Memorial.

The service, which lasted less than an hour, took me back to the Wednesdays we wore ties at chapel at Luther Memorial when we’d sing hymns and participate in responsive readings.   Today, as we read The Apostles Creed, I remember learning all parts of it for memory work at Luther.   This was part of the spiritual foundation that Mr. Bjerregaard as my seventh grade teacher provided me.

My FIRST SCIENCE TEACHER

By my recollection, it would be in around 1982 or 1983 when I first had the experience of working with test tubes, bunsen burners and frogs in Mr. Bjerregaard’s science classes.  Even before seventh grade, we’d learn about science in Mr. Bjerregaard’s room.    I remember the pull-down poster of the periodic table.   Long before 11th grade chemistry, I learned from Mr. Bjerregaard that “NaCl” stood for sodium chloride.

His classroom was different from the rest of the rooms in the “upper building” at Luther (for grades 5-8) because we had stools on which to sit at high tables.   We knew when we got to Mr. Bjerregaard’s class, it would not be long before we would be eighth graders and moving on to high school.

I graduated from Luther Memorial School in June of 1984  and have done a very poor job of keeping in touch with my classmates.

Today was not the time for a reunion.  As Michael Pottschmidt, senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church said, it was a time to “Be Still” and Know that our Lord is God.

Pottschmidt shared a few words of encouragement from the 10th verse of the 46th Psalm.

The program from today's service celebrating the life of Charlie Bjerregaard
The program from today’s service celebrating the life of Charlie Bjerregaard

BE STILL

Even though our beloved Pastor Robert Wind (formerly of Bethlehem Lutheran Church) was scheduled to speak at today’s service but could not attend due to illness,  the words of Rev. Pottschmidt  are ones that those of us who attended can take back to our lives decades after we left Luther Memorial School.

No matter whether we’re mourning the loss of Charlie Bjerregaard of some other loss of disappointment or challenge, as Christians, we have the “peace” that Jesus spoke of in John 14:27

I can remember in seventh grade, participating in devotions in Mr. Bjerregaard’s homeroom/religion period.  that’s where I learned how to read God’s word and understand it for myself.    I learned the idea of doing devotions, a daily event at Luther that we all should do now as adults..

Mr. Bjerregaard would be glad to know that his lessons on how to live as a Christian stuck with me all of these years and that I draw on them (and those of my other teachers at Luther Memorial School) regularly now as a faculty member and administrator at The University of Alabama.

“Many people loved dad and especially his children loved him,” said Sean Bjerregaard, who along with his sister, Shannon, made brief remarks at today’s service.

pepsi bottle
Mr. Bjerregaard loved Pepsi. This is one of those old bottles I remember him having around school at Luther Memorial.

They told stories and had a few of us laughing about their dad’s habit of having a pepsi bottle nearby.  He loved Pepsi.

I don’t know much about Mr. Bjerregaard’s post-teaching days.   But,  I know that the impact he made on hundreds, perhaps thousands of young people at Luther Memorial School here in Richmond was enormous.

For that reason, we pause today to THANK GOD FOR CHARLIE BJERREGAARD!