Herman Shum
Herman Shum

The St. Mary’s College High School community is reeling from the accidental death Saturday of its assistant vice principal of student affairs.

Herman Shum, 40, who had just accepted a position as principal at Justin-Siena High School in Napa after 11 years at St. Mary’s, was killed during a bicycle ride east of Dublin in unincorporated Contra Costa County.

Shum was among a group of 50-60 cyclists who were riding in a pack on Highland Road around 9:45 a.m. Dec. 27, according to Sgt. Brent Bartusch of the California Highway Patrol. There was a collision of sorts at the front of the group of cyclists and some bikers fell to the ground.

Shum was in the back of the group. He may have taken evasive action to avoid the collision or he may have crashed into some bikers, said Bartusch. CHP officials are still investigating, but know that Shum was thrown from his bike and landed in the road where he was run over by a Peterbilt truck. Two others were also hurt, one seriously.

“Was he part of the pile-up or did he swerve to avoid the pile-up?” said Barusch. “We haven’t come to a conclusion yet.”

Word of Shum’s death spread quickly among the St. Mary’s community. The school is located at 1294 Albina Ave. in North Berkeley.

“Herman Shum was an extraordinary educator who touched the lives of hundreds of students in his eleven years at Saint Mary’s,” the school posted on its website and Facebook page. “He was a brilliant teacher and administrator. The fact that he had just been named Principal of Justin-Siena High School in Napa for next year is evidence of the esteem by which he is held by his colleagues. The loss of such a good man and treasured friend is immeasurable.”

Shum had taught history at Sacred Heart school in San Francisco before taking a position at St. Mary’s in 2004. He was a well-loved and respected history and government teacher as well as an administrator, Pete Imperial, the principal of the school told the Napa Valley Register.

“Herman was able to integrate humanity and discipline,” Imperial told the Register. “Kids loved him; it’s pretty rare to have a dean as beloved as Herman is. The word ‘discipline’ comes from the word ‘disciple’ and that’s exactly what he did — he took time with the kids. Adolescence is a tough time and he was able to walk alongside kids as they had struggles. As a teacher, he was brilliant.”

Herman Shum and his wife and two daughters
Herman Shum and his wife and two daughters

Shum leaves behind his wife, Janelle; his children, Monica and Nicole; his father, Bart Shum, and stepmother, Melody; his grandparents; and his sisters, Helen, Emily and Kimberly. Memorial service information is pending.

Students, faculty and families of St. Mary’s will gather at the school from 3-5 p.m. today, Monday, according to CBS News. The school will also hold a formal service at the school after students return Jan. 6, according to the Register.

Shum’s wife has set up a GoFundMe account to pay for funeral expenses and start a college fund for his daughters.

Henry Shum's Facebook profile picture
Herman Shum’s Facebook profile picture
Herman Shum’s Facebook profile picture

Shum was an avid cyclist and had competed in more than 100 races, often with the Christian Cycling Club, according to the USA Cycling website. His Facebook profile picture features him on a bike.

Justin-Siena school in Napa had just selected him as the school’s new principal on Dec. 16.

Visit the memorial site for Herman Shum.

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook where we often break news. Email us at tips@berkeleyside.com. Would you like the latest Berkeley news sent to your email inbox once a day? Click here to subscribe to Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing.

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...