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Robert Pasquesi, Teacher Who Lived Life That Mattered, Dies

May 9, 2016

Our neighbor’s father died recently.   That is usually not enough reason to get a blog post, but then most people upon their passing do not get a news story printed about how they positively impacted the lives they touched.  It is clear that Robert Pasquesi made a significant difference during his years as a teacher, and The Chicago Tribune allowed their readers insight into this man with a story last week.

When newspapers report such a story they are not paying tribute in the way an eulogist will at the time of a service but instead are allowing folks like me who never knew the person to better understand a life that mattered.    While Pasquesi was not a famous man as we think of that term, he was a man who accomplished a great deal through his years of teaching.   It is that accomplishment that makes this a story worth knowing.

There is no way a life can be summed up in a news story in a way that allows for a total sense of the person.  But with an article like this we are given a portrait of sorts from which to better know him.

It is obvious Pasquesi made a difference during his lifetime.  What better ending can be said for anyone?

Students in classes taught by Robert Pasquesi knew they would have to work hard, but they also knew help was available at any time.

“He was a teacher extraordinaire,” said Robyn Ward, science coordinator New Trier High School’s Northfield campus where Pasquesi once worked. “He knew how to connect with teenagers. He was inspiring and had high expectations. 

“He was very good at explaining concepts by making connections to everyday life,” Ward said.

Education was an early focus for Pasquesi, who was born in Highland Park. Neither of his parents had graduated from high school, and both wanted their children to go to college, his wife said.

The principal of Loyola Academy in Wilmette recruited Pasquesi to come back to the school and teach. In 1960, he started a 22-year career at Loyola, teaching physics, AP physics and calculus.

With 10 children and college costs looming, Pasquesi left teaching for 15 years and worked as systems analyst and later research department head at the financial management firm Stein Roe & Farnham.

He still had a desire to teach, however, and returned to the field as headmaster and teacher at Northridge Prep School in Niles from 1997 to 2000.

The school wanted him to take on the role of headmaster full time, but Pasquesi did not want to leave the classroom. He joined New Trier High School in 2000 and a year later moved to the Northfield campus.

After he retired in 2010, he continued to work as a tutor.

“He worked on Wednesday and Thursday the week he died. His last day here he walked in and was singing, ‘Oh, what a beautiful morning’ even though he was very sick. He still worried about everybody else. He was funny, joyous and a man of deep faith,” Ward said.

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