2005-06-17 / Community

Middle School 180 Named For Gerald Dever

By Beverly Baxter


Dever with his wife, Mary during a Florida vacation in February of 1998.Dever with his wife, Mary during a Florida vacation in February of 1998. After seven arduous years in which the plan was in limbo, Middle School 180 was posthumously named for the Guidance Counselor Gerald R. Dever last Wednesday. The dedication took place on Wednesday, June 15 at 10 am at the school where a formal plaque was unveiled and placed on the interior wall in the school lobby. Local Instructional Superintendent Benjamin Waxman led the ceremony.

Although the school had been officially named The Gerald R. Dever MS 180 School on June 3, 2002 by the Board of Education, the formal plaque had never been attached to the building’s facade. It has always been the Dever family’s wish to be able to see the name on the building during their lifetime. However, due to an on-going noise abatement project that includes new windows and the refurbishing of the building’s exterior which is slated to begin in September, the family will have to wait a little while longer before the name is physically attached to the building’s exterior.

Dever at a past St. Patrick’s Day Parade, receiving the Irishman of the Year Award. 
Dever at a past St. Patrick’s Day Parade, receiving the Irishman of the Year Award. Dever is being remembered as the quintessential Guidance Counselor. He set a standard to which fellow colleagues still aspire; but it is his dedication as a guiding force in so many student’s lives that remains his greatest legacy. His profound effect endures in the success of their lives. Dever took the 9 to 5 profession out of the classroom and into his personal life. He shared with his students his passion for volunteerism and instilled in them the satisfaction gained by giving back to one’s community. He introduced his students to civic activism with groups like the Rockaway Action Committee. On many weekends, Dever and his students, along with his wife Mary and their son Michael, could be seen around the streets of Rockaway cleaning graffiti, pruning, and planting flowers. Whether it was joyous outings to destinations like the NBA Jam to meet the stars or to events like the environmental program, Green Horizons, at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, or the American Cancer Society Walk-a-thons, Dever was always interested in participating with his students in programs that would enhance their educational lives. He derived deep personal satisfaction in being a role model to students and instilling in them the hope that through education, they may obtain their potential and fulfill their personal dreams.

Mr. Katz leads students as they sing “That’s What the Music Can Do.” The 7th and 8th graders regularly come to school early to participate in the school’s “volunteer” chorus.Mr. Katz leads students as they sing “That’s What the Music Can Do.” The 7th and 8th graders regularly come to school early to participate in the school’s “volunteer” chorus.  On May 25, 1998 Dever lost his battle and succumbed to cancer. It was his last wish that he be able to see his son Michael graduate from college. He was taken by ambulance from Sloan Kettering to Providence College in Rhode Island where he sat in a wheel chair and watched with great joy as his son graduated Cum Laude, as well as with four other honors of distinction. Dever was then transported to St Ann’s Acute Care Center at Mercy Hospital where many of the Nurses were his former students when he was a High School Social Studies Teacher. They stated that it has always been their policy to call patients by their first names; but they couldn’t as he was always known as Mr. Dever. 

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