CHARDON, Ohio -- The children of Joseph Bergant II are remembering their father as a protector and a leader.
“When I was little, I remember him telling me scary things and to make me smart and street-smart and strong,” said his daughter, Erin Bergant Harrod.
The former superintendent of Chardon Schools passed away at 62-years-old, surrounded by his family at his home in Chardon.
“I think that’s what he did for the schools. He wanted to protect people, teach them, and give them the tools,” said Harrod.
Bergant was a loving husband, father, and grandfather who instilled values of honesty and responsibility.
“When I would leave something around, I would ultimately come to lose it. I thought it was gone, but really it was in the trunk of his car and he would make me buy it back for a dollar an article,” said his son, Michael Smetana.
He was also a leader to a school community during an unthinkable tragedy.
Bergant was superintendent at the time of the Chardon High School shooting in February 2012.
He retired in 2013, staying an extra year to help the district heal. But in summer 2016, he was diagnosed with ALS.
“He lost his ability to talk. He’s stubborn which is one of the hardest things because he wanted to be strong,” said Harrod.
And as the disease progressed, Bergant refused to give in.
“I think he really expressed himself with songs in the end,” said his other son, Bryce Smetana.
“He chose when, when we were all with him with him because we knew he was there holding on for all of us,” said Harrod.
Visitation is Sunday at Monreal Funeral Home in Eastlake. His funeral is Monday at St. Mary’s Church in Chardon.
Bergant’s family is asking that any stories or memories be emailed to AlwaysRememberJoe@gmail.com.