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In Memoriam: November 2013

Published: November 15, 2013

Berend D. (“Derk”) Bruins passed away Sept. 26, in Victorville, at the age of 72, after a long illness. He was an outstanding student in the CSULB Political Science Department and graduated with a M.A. in political science in 1973. Bruins went on to receive a Ph.D. in political science degree from Columbia University in 1981. He subsequently taught international relations and national security policy, first as an assistant and associate professor in the national security studies M.A. program at California State University, San Bernardino; and then returned to the CSULB Political Science Department to serve as a part-time lecturer from 1994-2004.

Ken Lindgren, long-time Long Beach State men’s water polo head coach, died on Oct. 11 after a heart attack. Lindgren was the head coach of the men’s water polo team for 24 years and won Olympic medals as the USA coach with both men’s and women’s water polo, the only coach to ever do so.

Lindgren, a 1991 inductee into the Long Beach State Hall of Fame, was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1993.

“He was a Long Beach icon,” said Gavin Arroyo, Long Beach State water polo coach. “Aside from defining Long Beach water polo, he was a tremendous mentor to so many. He will be greatly missed.”

Lindgren, who starred at Long Beach State as a player in 1959, returned to coach at his alma mater in 1975, leading the 49ers to a 14-12 record in his first season. That was the first of 24 seasons he would spend as the head coach of the 49ers, leading Long Beach State to seven NCAA appearances, including a runner-up finish in 1981.

Additionally, Lindgren was a force in the international game. After an assistant coaching stint with the 1980 USA men’s team that boycotted the Olympics, he returned as an assistant for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, helping lead the Americans to a silver medal. Lindgren was an Olympic official for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and then assumed a role as an assistant with the women’s national team as the USA claimed silver at the Sydney Olympics.

During his nearly quarter century as the head coach at Long Beach State, Lindgren coached 34 All-Americans and eight Olympic Team members. After leaving his position as head coach of the men’s water polo program in 1998, Lindgren made a final return to the pool for the 49ers, serving as the interim head coach of the women’s program in 2006.

Outside of his coaching duties, Lindgren also spent more than three decades as a highly regarded mathematics instructor. He joined the campus’ Department of Mathematics and Statistics in fall 1985 and continued teaching in the department until he retired following the fall semester in 2008.

“He taught a wide variety of courses from the pre-baccalaureate through calculus,” said department chair Robert Mena. “He particularly enjoyed freshmen classes. When I first became chair of the department, as part of my duties, I visited all the classrooms of all the lecturers in the department. In the spring of 1990, I visited Ken, who was teaching Math 114, Finite Math at 8 o’clock in the morning. I knew this class well—I had taught it many times, and I expected the usual grumbling mass of business majors unhappily complaining about probability and other subtle mathematical issues, especially at that time of the day. Instead I encountered a challenging yet very positive environment. Ken knew all the students and invited vocal responses from the students constantly—making them think and process the learning, which is the key to good mathematical teaching. I never forgot that visit.”

Fifteen years later, on a second tour as chair, Mena again visited all lecturers.

“I visited his Math 122, Calculus I classroom,” he said. “Of course, I expected a good visit. It was excellent. In fact, reviewing my notes from that visit, some of my comments were: ‘Very familiar with students. Kept questioning—ask them to the board at times. Very interactive classroom—outstanding rapport. Good timing in the questioning. Excellent classroom.’

“Ken and I talked about mathematics teaching several times and I know he cared a great deal about helping young people to attain success and meet his challenging high standards,” added Mena. “I was saddened to hear of Ken’s passing although I did not know him on a social basis, I respected and admired him as a colleague and so did everyone in our department who knew him.”

A celebration of life will be held at the Walter Pyramid in December.