Obituary

Paul's Obituary

Paul J. Bertics, age 55, passed away unexpectedly at his home on Thursday, December 22, 2011. He was born November 6, 1956 in La Jolla, CA, the son of John and Pearl (Tarkowski) Bertics. Paul was a 1974 graduate of Carlsbad High School, Carlsbad, CA, and received his Magna cum laude B.S. with highest honors in Biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1978, his Ph.D. in Physiological Chemistry in 1984 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego from 1984-86. Paul was united in marriage to Sandra Fritsch March 20, 1982. They have one daughter, his pride and joy, Vicky who is now doing postdoctoral training in oceanographic studies in Germany. Paul joined the UW faculty in 1986 and is currently the Robert Turell Professor of Physiology (endowed chair), Kellett Professor of Biomolecular Chemistry, a member of the Executive Committee of the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a Co-Director in the Material Sciences Research Center in the UW School of Engineering. Paul was extremely dedicated to the students at the UW serving as chair of Medical School admissions for years, instructing over 3000 medical students, training over 55 graduate and postdoctoral students and mentoring countless undergraduates. He received numerous awards, including the Student-selected UW Medical School teaching award twice and the UW Distinguished Teaching Award - Chancellor's Teaching Award. Paul is an editor of the Journal of Immunology and the Chief Science Advisor of Platypus Technologies, Fitchburg. Paul has played the guitar since High School, and also has an interest in electronics, with his current hobby of restoring tube radios from the 1920's to the 50's. He enjoyed fishing, sports, nature and antiquing with his wife.
Paul is survived by his loving wife of 29 years, Sandra, his cherished daughter Victoria "Vicky", his sister, Sandra Dries, Santee, CA, sister-in-law, Sharon (Mike) Czysh, Waldo, WI, brother-in-law, Roger (Michelle) Fritsch, niece, Gloria Fritsch, nephew, Maxwell Fritsch, Liberty Township, OH, father-in-law, Erwin Fritsch, Sheboygan, WI, numerous friends, as well as the many students that he has taught and fellow faculty members of the University of Wisconsin. Paul was preceded in death by his parents, brother-in-law Steve Dries, mother-in-law Gloria Fritsch, and his grandmother Mary Tarkowski. A visitation will be held from 4:00 pm until 7:00 pm on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Rd, Madison, WI 53705. Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at LUTHER MEMORIAL CHURCH, 1021 University Ave., Madison, WI 53715, with visitation from 10:00 am until the time of service at the church. A memorial fund has been established in Paul's name through the UW Foundation. Donations to the fund can be made by a check to: UW Foundation specifying that the donation should go to the Paul J. Bertics Memorial Fund. The address is UW Foundation, 1848 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53726.

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Memories of Paul

Lou Rosenthal
Jan 4, 2012

It has been a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to work with Paul on various grants for over a decade. Simply put, science was always more fun if Paul was involved. His larger-than-life personality and good humor brightened any meeting. His extraordinary intellect, curiosity, insight, creativity, and generosity benefited all of his research colleagues and the scientific community as a whole. His many important contributions to scientific knowledge will live on. Paul was an exceptional colleague. He had a gift for seeing positive qualities and abilities in the scientists and students with whom he interacted that sometimes they had not even seen in themselves. In the up-and-down life of a scientist, Paul had the ability to energize those around him and to inspire them to overcome the inevitable frustrations associated with scientific research. Despite his many achievements, Paul was a modest and humble man. For example, he did not brag about the remarkable accomplishments of his daughter, Vicky, but the light in his eyes when asked about her scientific research displayed his unmistakable pride. Paul was always generous in sharing the insights he had gained from successfully raising a daughter with a newer father who was in the process of raising his own daughter. There is a Yiddish word, mensch. A mensch is a person of honor and integrity. A mensch is a fundamentally decent person who has all the qualities that one would want in a trusted friend or colleague. A mensch is someone whom you look up to and would want to be like. Paul was a mensch in every sense of the word. Paul will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. My deepest condolences to Sandy and Vicky.

 
Karl Yuan
Jan 3, 2012

 
Karl Yuan
Jan 3, 2012

 
Patrick McBride
Jan 2, 2012

My deepest sympathy to Sandy and Vicky, and all dear friends and colleagues. I cannot imagine that Paul will not come lumbering down the hall and give a greeting with that deep laugh and amazing smile. He lightened up every room he entered. For all he has done for our students, for our school, for all of us with his example, my deepest thanks. He will always be known as one of the finest professors in the School. I am so grateful that the Class of 2011 had him speak to them at graduation about what this all means - and of course he finished with family. A loss of a dear friend.

 
Laurien Ulfman
Jan 1, 2012

Dear family, friends and collegues of Paul Bertics,
Also in the Netherlands we were shocked by the sad news that Paul passed away. I would like to wish family, friends and collegues all the strenght what is needed to go through this sad time. I remember Paul as a very nice, enthousiastic and bright person. Paul has been to the University of Utrecht for an opposition in a thesis defence in Utrecht University in 2002. That is were I met him. I was impressed by his great knowledge on primary leukocyte molecular biology. Discussions with him have been inspiring and valuable for our laboratory.
Laurien Ulfman, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

 
Matt
Dec 30, 2011

A positive, motivating, entertaining teacher and role model. Many thanks to what Dr. Bertics contributed to my and many students' knowledge and lives. God Bless!

 
Mariel Espiñeira
Dec 30, 2011

Dear Sandy, I'm very sorry for this loss in your family. I want you to know that I'm sending you love, strength, and I will pray for you to overcome this difficult time with your family.
God will guide you. From Argentina, sincerly, Mariel

 
Kathy Powell
Dec 28, 2011

Vicky and Sandy -- You are in my thoughts and prayers everyday for the loss you have endured. Although I cannot attend the visitation or funeral services, I will continue to pray for your family as you remember and pay tribute to a loving father and husband. I love you.

 
Rich Proctor
Dec 28, 2011

Dear Sandra and Vicky,

While my shock and sadness at the loss of a friend and colleague is great, it cannot compare to yours. Paul's contribution to the UW Medical School and to the science was immense. He lives on in the students and post-doc's that he touched with his wisdom and humor. He was a teacher to everyone, and an inspiration to be the best. His lectures were fun, his lab meetings lively, and his chats in the office filled with the joy of discovery. Even though I left the UW 4 years ago, seeing Paul was a must on each visit.

I did not know that his mother's maiden name was Tarkowski as I had a colleague in Sweden named Andrej Tarkowski who family had immigrated from Poland during World War II....He was a great scientist, and perhaps he was a relative. He too died too young.

Paul is in my thoughts and you will be in my prayers.

Rich Proctor

 
Colleen Curran
Dec 27, 2011

Paul was and will remain my mentor. His analogies on everything are embedded in my thoughts to be re-issued at random on the next generation. Paul loved science but he could not say enough about the love for his family. I can only offer my deepest sympathies to the Bertics family.

 
Becky
Dec 27, 2011

Dear Sandy and family,
Our deepest sympathy to you all. You are in our hearts and prayers.

With love,
Becky (Mentink) and Eli Brotzman
Joel & Brenda Mentink Family

 
Yang Buyue
Dec 27, 2011

Dr. Bertics is a member of my PhD thesis committee. I will always remember his energy, wisdom, laughters and etc. He is one of the best professors I've ever met. My heart goes to Dr.Bertics family. Hope he rests in peace.

 
Karlo
Dec 26, 2011

Dear Dr. Bertics, there are only a few professors that I will remember and honor for the rest of my life. You are one of them. Rest in peace.

 
Tim Fior
Dec 26, 2011

Our family has known Paul since his youth growing up in Carlsbad, California. He always had an exuberance for life and an unparalleled curiosity and a brilliance which served him well in his academic life. Whenever we called, he was always up for a visit. He always put a positive spin on things. Our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to Sandy his wife, Vicky his daughter, and Sandy his sister. With Love,
Tim Fior

 
Tarun B. Patel
Dec 26, 2011

Paul was my dearest friend, collaborator, and like the brother I never had. I will miss Paul’s advice, encouragement, and support during the hardest and the best times in both of our lives. His unique laugh and light-hearted attitude toward what life has to offer for both himself and others are attributes that will be immensely missed. I will also miss those phone calls jokingly starting with “Is this the famous and very accomplished Professor Tarun Patel?” Above all, with all his many accomplishments, he was a very modest and humble person – an exemplary role model and leader. This is a great loss for the scientific community as a whole as well as in our personal lives.

Sandy and Vicki, you are constantly in our family’s thoughts and we pray that God gives you both the strength to work through this tragedy.

 
Caroline
Dec 26, 2011

Dear Bertics family. Our hearts ache with you. May the Lord's comfort and peace surround you during this time. Dr. Bertics always answered my questions so thoroughly and patiently. He was so highly intelligent, yet humble. It was an honor to be his student.

 
Pierre Gingerich-Boberg
Dec 26, 2011

I will remember Dr. Bertics' color coded lecture slides (for those water-soluble and greasy hormones…). I will remember his Willy-Wonka-ish metaphors (candies coming down the conveyer belt too fast to grab them all…). I'll try to remember at least those items that he marked with quintuple asterisks, and hope that somewhere from beyond the grave he'll still be "thrilled beyond all measure" as we his budding M1 students remember throughout our careers the fact that insulin is a water-soluble hormone, and work out the clinical implications of that fact. I remember how he seemed always to have time to chat, to explain.
Trolling around the tributes for our beloved Dr. Bertics is humbling: it's obvious that his wonderful work with the M1 class this year was only a tiny piece of his ongoing intellectual work; but also that even in this little sideshow of his main work he blessed us with the same generosity, humor, and thoughtfulness that he applied to the rest of his life. I am very grateful to have known him.
I suppose we all will miss Dr. Bertics in some kind of proportion to our ongoing connection to his amazing life and work, and my connection was rather minor. Even so, I'll miss him deeply.

 
Amanda Mueller
Dec 26, 2011

Dr. Bertics was easily one of the most enjoyable professors I have ever had. I would even show the recorded lectures to my friends so they could see how awesome med school was. I learned so much from him, and I will be forever grateful. I feel so fortunate that I had the chance to meet him.

 
Chuck Czuprynski
Dec 26, 2011

This is a huge and tragic loss. Paul was the model of what a UW Professor should be. More importantly, he was a great human being who lightened the load for those around him. Many of my students benefitted from Paul serving on their thesis committee. I have heard from several and they share our sense of loss.

 
Amanda
Dec 26, 2011

It was always fun to go to class when Dr. Bertics taught it. He brought more than just information; he brought a palpable sense of joy into the room with him. When you think of him, you remember his smile and his quick wit. You know that he cared for each of the students he taught. We will truly miss him. My deepest sympathies and prayers for his family.

 
Jasmine Wiley
Dec 25, 2011

Dr. Bertics was by far one of the most charismatic, personable, inspiring and compassionate professors I have ever had the privilege of having. It was his compassion and patience, and passion for teaching that helped me through the otherwise rocky road of biochemistry and the first semester of medical school. It was always a joy to see his smiling face around campus and it is a face that we will all truly truly miss. My heart and prayers are with your family. Thank you for sharing Dr. Bertics with all of us.

 
Patti Keely
Dec 25, 2011

In my mind I can hear Paul's resonant voice as he sits in my office and we commiserate and joke around about our overdue cancer center write-up. Paul's deep laugh helped make light work of it. I cannot get my mind around the fact that we will never hear that laugh again.

My heart aches for all of us who have lost a dear friend and colleague. My heart aches for Sandy and Vicky especially.

The gaping hole that Paul's loss leaves in the Medical School and the Cancer Center, in the Centers and departments across campus, in the lives of students who looked up to him, in his research, and to his colleagues across the country and here at UW is a tribute to his life--to all the ways he gave generously of his time and energy--to his tireless spirit.

Paul was truly a mensch in every way, and quite simply irreplaceable. We will miss him. I will miss him.

 
Bob Stenberg
Dec 25, 2011

If I ever help a diabetic patient in an emergent situation, there is no doubt I will be thanking Dr. Bertics for his teachings. I feel so fortunate to have been his student.

 
Kat Miller
Dec 25, 2011

Dr. Bertics was one of those professors that made the material exciting no matter how mundane or difficult it might seem. His infectious enthusiasm for teaching motivated all those around him to try a little harder and stress a little less. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from him. The medical school will not the same without him. Thanks Dr. Bertics, for showing us that there was always more to learn and discover.

 
Heather
Dec 25, 2011

I will miss Dr. Bertic's sense of humor and his jokes echoing through all corners of the classroom. He was one of my favorite professors here at UW and his warmth and generosity has made a lasting impact on my life. He will be truly missed. My sincerest condolences to his family.

 
Warren Chang
Dec 25, 2011

As one of his former students, I can say without reservation that Dr. Bertics was universally beloved. He was a great teacher, researcher, and mentor, but above all, he was a great person. His ability to disarm and put people at ease even during the most stressful of environments with a smile and some wry humor was wonderful and despite all of his accomplishments he was one of the most approachable teachers I've ever had the good fortune to work with. My deepest condolences to his family.

 
Armagan Hayirli
Dec 25, 2011

Dear Sandy,
I express my sincere symphaty and wish strength and patience from God. I had a chance to see Dr. Bertics once, but I know his scientific reputation. It is very sad to hear great people pass away at early age. Love and respect from 12 000 km away

 
Ian Bird (ERP Director)
Dec 24, 2011

I add my deep sadness at this tragic news. As ERP Director I would add Paul was both a trainee of the program and outstanding mentor and scientists. Personally he was also a true mentor to me in my career as I know he was to many others. Above all however, beyond being a superb teacher and mentor to all around him, he was an outstanding and extraordinary human being. My thoughts go out on behalf of ERP to his family and colleagues at this time.

 

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Visitation

Wednesday, Dec 28, 20114:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Cress Funeral Home Madison - Speedway
3610 Speedway Road
Madison, Wisconsin 53705


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Service

Thursday, Dec 29, 201111:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Luther Memorial Church
1021 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin

Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.


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Services & Events

Visitation

Cress Funeral Home Madison - Speedway
December 28, 2011, 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Service

Luther Memorial Church
December 29, 2011, 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
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