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Christopher Berrisford; Led Harvard School


Christopher Berrisford, who was headmaster of Los Angeles' private Harvard School for two decades, has died. He was 68.

Berrisford died Sunday in Hong Kong of a stroke, his successor, Thomas C. Hudnut, announced Monday.

Berrisford was in charge of the boys school from 1969 until 1987, when he left to become headmaster of Trinity School in New York. Since 1991, he had headed the Chinese International School in Hong Kong, from which he was planning to retire in July.

Hudnut guided the 1990 merger of Harvard with Westlake girls school and went on to serve as headmaster of the now co-educational Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood. But Berrisford helped set the merger in motion and had advocated admitting girls to Harvard as early as the mid-1970s.

On Monday, Hudnut said that under Berrisford, the boys school "shed its military past . . . expanded its curriculum . . . and emerged as a first-rate school."

Hudnut praised Berrisford's "lively mind, his ability to ask penetrating questions and his absolute commitment to high academic standards."

When he arrived at Harvard, Berrisford promised "to stress developing individual potential and responsibility rather than an emphasis on required courses."

"We need to develop a greater incentive in individual achievement," he said, "and will encourage the student who can carry a larger work load."

Highly respected as an educator, Berrisford was head of the international Institute for Administrative Leadership for several years.

Born in Hampshire, England, Berrisford was educated at Oxford and Harvard universities and served as headmaster of St. Mark's School in Dallas before his work in Los Angeles.

In 1988, Berrisford married former Harvard School English teacher Suzy Moser, who survives him. He is also survived by two children, Sara and Nicholas; and a sister, Hilary Adair.

The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Berrisford Memorial Fund at Harvard-Westlake School, Box 1037, North Hollywood, CA 91604.

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