Frank Schooley. Courtesy: Schooley family

On Aug. 10, 2022, the world lost a great teacher, mentor, husband, and father as well as a gracious friend to many. Frank Schooley died at 83 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, which robbed him of the amazing memory he was known for.

Frank enjoyed a fascinating professional life with diverse chapters. He was a priest (Clerics of St. Viator); a doctoral student of American history (UC Berkeley); a researcher at RCM Capital Management, an investment management firm; and, finally, a teacher at Berkeley High School.

Frank Schooley. Credit: Peter Compton

It was at Berkeley High that Frank truly found his calling. Hired in 1994 to run special programs, Frank experienced great satisfaction from working with students — both those who struggled academically and those who excelled. He became known as the “Name Man” because, once he met students, he never forgot their names, whether passing them in the school hallways or on the streets of Berkeley. And they never forgot him. Even years after he retired, former students would spot him and yell, “Hello Mr. Schooley!”

“Mr. Schooley always made students feel like anything was possible,” recalls a Berkeley High alum. “He led by example through hard work and dedication, and his brilliance was balanced with humility. He always displayed generosity, kindness, the utmost integrity, and an absolute joy for living. He made Berkeley High a community. By remembering students’ names, he gave them a priceless sense of belonging.”

Frank developed a mentoring program that paired local business people and staff from UC-Berkeley with students enrolled in the Computer Academy, one of the small schools of Berkeley High. But Frank’s crowning achievement was his coordination of the Berkeley Experiential Senior Transition (BEST) Program, which helped seniors transition from high school to college and work life. Students would pick topics of great interest to them and then, working with mentors from the school and the community, spend a semester developing projects that explored those areas. Their efforts culminated in presentations to the public. When Frank wasn’t working on these special programs, he loved being a substitute teacher. He took on any class, no matter the subject; one of his favorites was the dance class.

Frank Schooley and his wife, Claire, in Mexico. Courtesy: Schooley family

In addition to being an inspiring teacher, Frank also was a perpetual student who never lost his curiosity or thirst for learning. He enjoyed reading great literature, poetry, and 18th Century American history. He spoke French fluently and could manage in German, Dutch, Flemish, and even Italian. (He once took a course on Dante, which was given entirely in Italian.) Frank also adored jazz and classical music and regularly attended performances of the UC-Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

Frank was born May 1, 1939, in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to Frank and Eleanor Schooley. He was the oldest of their six children. He graduated from Champaign Central High School and then attended Loyola University in Chicago, where he majored in French and began his studies for the priesthood. He continued his religious education at Catholic University in Washington DC, and later at the University of Leuven in Belgium, where he developed a lifelong love of Westmalle beer. He was ordained a Viatorian priest in 1966, and then taught French and religion at Spaulding Catholic High School in Peoria, Illinois. His next assignment was at the Newman Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.

He left the priesthood in 1973, and married Claire Walker of Boston in 1975. They lived most of their married life in Berkeley, California, where they raised Sarah Schooley Graff of Lafayette, California (spouse – Robert Graff); and David Schooley of Burlingame, California, (spouse – Debbie Kawamoto). Three special grandchildren always made Frank smile. Finley Graff, Ryan Graff, and Mio Schooley loved their grandfather deeply, always called out “Hi Papa,” and gave him big hugs — even in his last days.

In addition to his immediate family, Frank’s survivors include two sisters, Marylou Marksch of Tucson, Arizona, and Betsy Schooley of Rio Vista, California, and many nieces and nephews across the country. Frank was predeceased by his brother Fred Schooley and two sisters, Jane Schooley McCabe and Jeanbrown Schooley Baker.

The Schooley family. Courtesy: Schooley family

A Celebration of Life is planned for Frank from 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley in Kensington, California. Donations in his memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Alzheimer’s Foundation.

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