Dr. Paul Herbert Bergeron
Dr. Paul Herbert Bergeron

Cincinnati, OH - Paul Herbert Bergeron passed away peacefully on July 4, 2020, in Cincinnati, surrounded by family. Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, Paul was a graduate of Louisiana College before moving to Tennessee in 1960 to earn his doctorate in history at Vanderbilt University. Tennessee became his adopted home. He married Mary Lee (Clepper) Bergeron, who he had first met at Louisiana College in the late 1950's, in 1968 while he was a history professor at Vanderbilt in Nashville. In 1972, Paul joined the University of Tennessee History Department faculty, and he and Mary Lee settled in Knoxville where they put down roots and raised a family.

He taught at UT for 30 years, retiring as a Professor Emeritus in 2002. A foremost expert on Tennessee history, Paul authored and edited numerous books on Tennessee's presidents and history over this career including Andrew Johnson's Civil War and Reconstruction (2012), The Presidency of James K. Polk (1987), and Paths of the Past: Tennessee 1770-1970 (1979).

He found happiness in friendships with colleagues and having a positive impact on the countless students he mentored over the years, who recall his teaching and guidance fondly. During the 45 years he lived in Knoxville, he was also active in many community organizations, particularly the Church of Ascension, Blount Mansion, and the East Tennessee Historical Society.

Paul's greatest joy came from his family. He passed his love for learning and commitment to character on to his three sons and shared a deep connection of spirituality, faith, and love with his wife and family. His children will remember his boisterous laugh, his rapid walking pace, and his compassion and empathy for all people.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Mary Lee (Clepper) Bergeron, and is survived by his three sons, Pierre (Jennifer), Andre (Amy), and Louis (Sarah), and grandchildren Elise, Lawson, Nally, Madison, and Wyatt as well as his brothers Leon C. Bergeron, Jr. and David M. Bergeron. A memorial service for immediate family only will be held in Knoxville, TN at the Church of the Ascension on July 24 at 12:00 p.m. and will be livestreamed virtually. In lieu of flowers, donations in celebration of his life can be made to the Church of Ascension or the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Cincinnati.

Published by Knoxville News Sentinel from Jul. 10 to Jul. 12, 2020.
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Memorial service
Church of the Ascension
Knoxville, TN
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6 Entries
Nancy Barber
July 17, 2020
My sincere condolences to Paul's family. I was at UT from 1996-2001 and was Paul's last PhD student. He was a good mentor to me and later a good friend.
John Pinheiro
July 14, 2020
I was a student in Dr. Bergeron classes in the early 1970s. To say he made history alive and interesting is a profound understatement. He made this mathematically oriented student not only attend class regularly, but actually learn and enjoy the experience. A fabulous teacher! Sincere condolences to the family.
Jannice Grissom Clark
July 14, 2020
The James K. Polk Project, where I had the privilege briefly to meet Paul, benefited early on from his careful scholarship. For many years he directed the Andrew Johnson Papers, an essential part of the Tennessee Presidents Center at the University of Tennessee. Paul's work to make historical documents accessible will impact scholarship and education for decades to come.
Michael Cohen
July 13, 2020
Please let me extend sympathies on behalf of the staff of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. The Papers of Andrew Johnson, as well as "Civil War and Reconstruction" are mainstays in our research. We can not express how much Dr. Bergeron helped us and supported us - and was our friend, most of all.
Kendra Hinkle
July 13, 2020
Paul was one of my favorite history professors at UT. I started on The Hill in the fall of 1973 & I studied several courses under him on Tennessee history. His lectures were always fascinating & made me want to come to class. Later, as an alumnus, I came to know him as the editor of President Andrew Johnson's papers that had been donated to UT. We owe him a debt for all of the long hours he put in doing that in the library as a researcher. He is truly a treasure & a Vol For Life!
Mark Hancock
July 12, 2020
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