Dr. Charles Bergendren, professor, 64

Dr. Charles Bergendren, professor, 64

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Dr. Charles Bergengren, an art-history professor and former Philadelphian, died July 16 at age 64. The cause remains unknown.

A memorial will be held this weekend in Philadelphia.

Bergengren was born Sept. 16, 1947, in Glastonbury, Conn.

He earned a bachelor of arts from the City University of New York and a master’s and doctorate in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania.

He was a member of the American Folklore Society, Vernacular Architecture Forum and the American Gravestone Society.

He taught art history at Cleveland Institute of Art from 1991 until earlier this year.

Bergengren was interested in all aspects of the art world — specifically music, folk art and performance art.

“He loved everything from the most traditional to the most avant-garde,” said Jonathan David, folklorist, writer and friend of Bergengren.

David described Bergengren as the kind of professor who would grade papers outside and take day trips with his students. He loved nature.

“He would have people look at the wild flowers on the side of the street. He would take field trips to the forest and he would know every plant,” David said. “He wanted people to wake up and listen to the things going on around them and to pay attention.”

Bergengren collected quirky items like snow globes and umbrellas.

“He had all different types of umbrellas. He would suspend them from the ceiling so that they were open,” David said. He also collected books and records.

Bergengren also had an enormous memory for detail, David added.

“He could convey to his students little bits of information about works of art that no one else seemed to know. He used art to teach about humanity and the students really loved him. He taught art history in a way that art students could understand.”

Anyone who knew Bergengren was aware of his insatiable spirit.

“He was always going on day trips, going out of town and anyone who went along with him would have a blast,” David said.

Bergengren especially paid attention to the houses, barns, nature trails, birds, churches and even the graveyards on his trips.

“You were always on a field trip with Charlie,” David said.

The Philadelphia Folklore Project will host a memorial from 2-4 p.m. Oct. 6 at 735 S. 50th St.


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