DR. SAUL BACHNER
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Dr. Saul Bachner, 87, of Seal Beach, CA, formerly of Wilmington, NC, died Thursday, February 24, 2011, at Los Alamitos Medical Center in Seal Beach.
He was born on February 16, 1924, in Bronx, NY, the son of the late Nathan and Mary Resnick Bachner.
Dr. Saul Bachner devoted over half a century to teaching others ... and teaching others how to teach. He approached his field with an unbridled enthusiasm. Looking back on over fifty years in his profession, he declared that he never had a bad day.
"I think that all the years I taught, I enjoyed every day without exception," he once said. "I never felt like I was working. And I never went through a day that I didn't laugh."
Dr. Bachner joined the education faculty of The University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1971. Prior to that, he served for more than twenty years as an English teacher, coach, and department chair in the inner city junior and senior high schools of Detroit. From that service he culled a deep respect for diversity and a passion for the education of all children.
He sustained those qualities for over thirty years at the university and consistently displayed them in his teaching. In 1987, Dr. Bachner received the prestigious UNCW Board of Trustees Teaching Excellence Award. In 1996 he was also bestowed the Distinguished Teaching Professorship Award.
He led the development of the popular African-American literature and sports literature programs both in New Hanover county as well as surrounding counties.
Saul's teaching methodology was as diverse and exciting as his background. Words like "inspiring," "beloved," and "exemplary" are words you will find as you examine his record and the evaluations written by his former student teachers and colleagues.
Born in the Bronx, NY, in 1924, he graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School after helping support his family during the depression years with odd jobs in New York City's Garment District. It was during those very formative years that he developed a life-long love affair with the music of the period and a passion for and ever-expanding knowledge of sports that possessed him right up until the very end. These "side interests" made him a living encyclopedia; one that needed no help from the internet.
During the early stages of World War II, he enlisted in the Air Force and became a communications specialist. For most of his tour of duty, he was stationed in China and India and received several distinguished service accommodations for his ground-to-air expertise.
During the war he met and married his first wife, Helen Fiser. After the war, the two settled in Detroit where their only child Stephen was born. Five years later, Helen would succumb to breast cancer.
In 1964, while still in Detroit, he met his second wife, Joyce Greenwood, while both were teaching at the same junior high school. They remained happily married for 43 years. She was with him at the very end of his life.
He attended Wayne State University in Detroit achieving his doctoral degree in 1970. His PHD eventually led him to UNCW which provided the kind of work environment and student dedication that he had been looking for his entire professional life. Thus began a thirty-year love affair with a university, a community, and a new kind of work.
Dr. Bachner lived his life according to the words penned by legendary sports writer Red Smith, "Don't hurry, don't worry, and take time to smell the roses." Saul's life was also reflected in his favorite song, "Smile," composed by none other than Charlie Chaplin, whose movie persona very much resembled Saul Bachner himself.
Surviving is his wife, Joyce Bachner; a son, Stephen Bachner and wife Ashley; and countless former students, teachers, and colleagues upon whom his impact was immense and profound.
A funeral service will be held at 2:00 pm Saturday, March 5, 2011, at Andrews Mortuary Market Street Chapel. A private interment will follow in Oleander Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.andrewsmortuary.com
A Market Street Chapel Service
Online condolences at StarNewsOnline.com
Published in the Wilmington Star-News from March 3 to March 4, 2011
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