MISSION VIEJO — Howard Bergman, a counselor at Saddleback College since 1970 who helped thousands of students make choices about their career and educational goals, died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 62.
"Saddleback College has lost a dear friend and colleague," said Vern Hodge, vice president of student services at Saddleback College. "Howard couldn't do enough for students. He was a very special counselor."
Born in Pittsburgh, Bergman received a bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock College in Pennsylvania and a master's degree in counseling from Indiana University.
Before moving to California, Bergman taught at a school for the blind in Indiana. At Saddleback College, he specialized in helping disabled students.
"The students just loved him," said Jerilyn Chuman, dean of counseling and special programs. "His ability to teach went beyond the classroom. He could touch people's lives in a special way, that was Howard's way."
A football player while at Slippery Rock, he also helped many athletes transfer to universities during his career at Saddleback.
"I don't think Howard ever missed a home football game," Hodge said.
Bergman also played a major role each year in organizing the college's graduation ceremonies. Last May, while undergoing treatment for cancer, he managed to attend the commencement ceremony, which held special significance since his daughter was graduating from Saddleback College.
Bergman is survived by his wife, Jean of Mission Viejo, and daughter, Stacy.
Services will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at Grace Community Church of Saddleback Valley in Lake Forest.
A memorial scholarship in Bergman's name has been established at Saddleback College. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Howard Bergman's name, care of the Saddleback College Foundation.