Terry Doran, longtime Berkeley educator, dies

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.

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  • Bill

    He was a good man who did good things for his community.

  • Rasaan Moshesh

    RIP Mr. Doran and thank you for your life’s work.

  • Anonymous

    Facebook needs a category for “honorary unfriend” in this sad circumstance.  Terry’s life work and exemplary people-centric attitude will live long in my memory.

  • Rest in Peace Mr. Doran.  Thank you for being a wonderful teacher and neighbor.  I’ll missing saying hi and catching up with you.

  • Marhoades

    Terry you inspired generations of young people to think and reminded older ones to do the same. I hope that those same people will take pause to honor your legacy of peace, hope, and love. I will miss you. 

  • Meliflaw

    Well and simply put. Best wishes to Terry Doran’s family and other loved ones.

    (“Towering.” I like that. Further praise to Berkeleyside and Mr. Doran’s colleagues for not describing him as “amazing,” “legendary,” “iconic,” or any other press-release adjectives.)

  • Shay

     Mr. Doran was one of my favorite teachers at B’high in 1998. He helped me foster a love for photography and I will always remember his kind and gentle spirit.

  • Jason Moghaddas

    Terry, thanks so much for all you did to help make Berkeley a better place and for all you did for many of us Berkeley High Students. You will be missed by many but your positive influence will be felt by all those lucky enough to be touched by it….

  • KMM

    Mr. Doran, you made Berkeley High a great place to be in the 80’s. You were kind, stern and real. Thank you for all you did for us students and the community. I can say that I will miss you and you were one of the few teachers that didn’t give up on ANY kid.

  • BerkeleyTard

    ditto .. in 1984.  About the only positive memory I have from BHS, Terry was great.

  • Ginabcreative

    RIP Mr. Doran…..

  • Maiya

    Terry Doran was a wonderful, warm and inspirational teacher.  I got to know him when he advised the yearbook. Rest in peace, Terry, you left behind you a rich legacy.

  • Chris Heine

    The list of mentors who influenced me positively during my four years at Berkeley High pretty much begins and ends with Terry Doran. When I was at my lowest moment of being a teenager I didn’t go to my parents, siblings, friends or a therapist. I went to Terry. I honor Terry for having such a profound and positive influence on my life and the lives of so many others. I feel blessed to have caught up with Terry more recently. He was the same giving, caring, articulate, gregarious, activist I remembered as a teenager.

  • Sara Phillips

    Some of my best memories of school in Berkeley were thanks to Mr. Doran.  He will be missed.

  • ’95 Alum

    Thank you Mr. Doran.

  • Rmcr0082

    So many caring memories from former students warm my “memory bank” as student parent and Terry’s friend.  This dear  man was the mentor and positive force at Berkeley High that those of us on the outside imagined him to be.

  • Tderby27

    Mr Doran was one of my favorite teachers at BHS! He also continued to encourage and inspire me when I became a law enforcement officer…He was a great man, and I will miss his smile. I send my condolences to the family. Trina