Terry Doran. Photo: courtesy of the Doran family

Terry Doran, who served two terms as president of the Berkeley school board and inspired generations of students at Berkeley High, died on January 1 after a long battle with cancer.

Doran was a towering figure at Berkeley High until he retired in 1998. He worked for the district 32 years, teaching history and economics. He started the high school’s photography program, chaired the Arts Department, and served as faculty advisor to the award-winning Berkeley High Jacket.

Upon his retirement, Doran ran for school board, twice garnering the most votes of any other candidate and thus earning appointment as board president. Doran was an advocate of breaking down Berkeley High into smaller schools. He felt that students would get more individualized attention if they were in groupings of 500 people or fewer.

“Terry Doran was School Board President when I was hired,” said former BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence. “In large part he was the reason I came to Berkeley. I was convinced that a man with the soul of a teacher would always put students first, and he did… always. He was a man of integrity, generosity, extreme kindness and dedication of purpose. I consider it an honor to have known and worked with him.”

When Doran stepped down from the school board in 2006 he pledged to remain involved with issues important to Berkeley. He was appointed to the Zoning Adjustments Board and helped shape plans to rejuvenate downtown as a member of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee. He was an advocate for affordable housing. When he ran unsuccessfully for a District 4 City Council seat in 2008 he said that he had helped bring 600 housing units to the city.

Doran moved to Berkeley in 1960 to attend UC and became involved with the Civil Rights Movement, the Free Speech Movement, and the Vietnam War movement. While a teacher, he was involved with the union and worked towards integrating Berkeley schools

“He was a long time educator and social activist who really had visions for a better world,” said Jason Eshleman, a former student and family friend. “He fought for that in the capacity of an educator, a friend, and as school board president – essentially all of his life.”

Doran and his wife Lenore lived in the same house on Sacramento Street for 40 years. His wife, sons Collin and Andy, his brother Paul, their wives and his grandchildren were with Terry in his last days.

The family has created a memorial page for Doran on the Caring Bridge website. Friends are invited to leave their thoughts and memories. Details about a memorial will be posted there soon.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...