Monday, 29 January 2024

We are sad to announce the death of long-serving member of teaching staff, Dr Mike Pearson (CR. 1988-04) who passed away on 13 January. 

Michael’s funeral will take place on Friday 16th February at 11am. Woodvale Crematorium, North Chapel, Lewes Road, Brighton.

All friends of Michael are welcome. No flowers. Any donations to Cancer Research.

Colleague and Biology Laboratory Technician, Mark Davies writes:

"Mike was a colourful character, many will remember his artwork painted on the walls dotted around the Biology Department and his collection of pets that included axolotls, Wilt the python and then Timmy the boa constrictor, Mike would often teach with one of these snakes wrapped round his neck. He was affectionately known by pupils & staff as “Doc P”. He had attended Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania in 1970. Mike was a keen Liverpool FC supporter as a scouser himself. He was a widower after his wife, Olive, passed away.

Mike was here when I started in 2000 and we kept in regular touch after his retirement, he still lived nearby. He had been fighting illness for the last year and passed away on 13th January. His friendship will be greatly missed."

 

On Dr Pearson's retirement, Anthony Whitestone wrote the valedition which has been reproduced below and can also be read in the digital archive: Brighton College (websds.net)

Michael Pearson, universally known simply as “Doc P” here, joined the Common Room sixteen years ago. On the day of his interview one might have been misled into thinking that here, in his grey interview suit, was a worthy and conventional schoolmaster, seeking, in the latter part of his career, the pleasant job of understudying Peter Withers in the Biology Department. But the odd socks, which local lore has it that he wore that day, were the giveaway. In fact Michael has rarely been seen in a suit since then, but rather in an array of sartorial oddities, ranging from Stetson crocodile boots, shoe lace ties, 60’s T-shirts, the blue suede shoes proudly and prominently disported on his last Speech Day to the accoutrement of a bandana, with which latterly he would tie back his ever lengthening (but ungreying) hair! There was no truer embodiment of the Shakespearian dictum: “Apparel oft proclaims the man!’’ “Doc’s’’ path to Brighton College was, unsurprisingly, eclectic: it ran from his own education at Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, a first degree in Zoology at Liverpool University, a PhD on fossil fish at Newcastle, then to Africa as a senior lecturer at the Universities of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and later at Maiduguri in Northern Nigeria, before he turned to school teaching, possibly stimulated by the development of a passionate interest in anthropology, especially primitive people. After stints at Haberdashers’ and St John’s, Leatherhead, “Doc” brought this wealth of experience and his colourful personality to Brighton College. On taking up the reins of the Biology Department, “Doc” was not going to submit to any stultifying bureaucracy, which was borne out by the production of his first Departmental Handbook: this was deemed to be simply too funny (and probably too short) to meet the criteria of the then fledgling HMC Inspectorate and had to be replaced with a duller and more conformist version, but the original, like some samizdat tract, is still circulated among departmental colleagues and A level Biologists. “Doc’s” teaching was no less colourful than the ties and socks he wore: it was also humorous, vibrant and exuberant, replete with learning and disparate analogies to a world far beyond the classroom walls. Even his Lab. was a kind of shrine to 60’s counter culture with its scent of joss sticks and plastic cannabis plants. His lessons and teaching style were truly memorable and live long in the mind of even those who gave up Biology after the Fourth Form. In a way, “Doc” ought to be writing this valediction himself, because he was the true wordsmith among us. His speeches at House Suppers, his addresses in Chapel, and his own two leaving speeches (and here again there were the official and unofficial versions, the latter was delivered with characteristic panache to the twenty odd of us who dined him out at his favourite Thai restaurant) - all these were pyrotechnic displays of rapid machine gun fire wit, original analogies and aphorisms and not a little wisdom too. Often the wit was too abundant and fast flowing for one to remember the gags, but beneath the verbal effervescence, there lay a genuinely humane and loving heart, which had to suffer its own share of life’s tragedies: sadly “Doc” lost his own beloved wife and soul mate, Olive, to cancer a few years ago. For all his individuality, “Doc" did not eschew his share of the common tasks: he was a caring House Tutor in both Ryle and Fenwick, a long-standing supporter of Community Service and, recently, a most suitable and stimulating “Oxbridge” Tutor. Colleagues will miss him for his panache, challenging originality and truly intellectual qualities and those he taught for his awe-inspiring knowledge and style. It is hard to imagine the “Doc” retired, but as he remains in his flat not far away, surrounded by his memorabilia of 60’s and 70’s hippiedom, African artefacts, digital radio and TV, he will surely retain his sense of intellectual curiosity and wry, off-centre view of the world, but sadly no longer here at Brighton College, where he has been a true original.

Anthony Whitestone (CR. 1971-06)

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