Berldene Standley "Dean" Pickens, former assistant superintendent in Baltimore County public schools' division of instruction, died April 15 of Parkinson's disease at his Perry Hall home. He was 77.
Dr. Pickens was born in Osborne, Kan., and spent his early years there, until the early 1940s when his mother, a schoolteacher, moved with her son to Baltimore after the death of his father.
Dr. Pickens attended Patterson Park High School and later graduated in 1951 from Kenwood High School. He enrolled at what is now Towson University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1955 and had served as executive editor of The Towerlight, the campus newspaper.
He earned a master's degree in 1965 and received his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Dr. Pickens began his more than three-decade career in education as a sixth-grade teacher at Sussex Elementary School until being promoted to assistant principal at Pleasant Plains Elementary School.
From 1963 to 1976, he was principal of Church Lane Elementary School, and was principal for three years at Pinewood Elementary School. He was then named principal of Deep Creek Middle School.
Dr. Pickens moved into administration at school headquarters at Greenwood in 1982, when he became coordinator of personnel. A year later, he was named the department's director.
He ended his career in 1989 as assistant superintendent in the school system's instruction division, a position he held for five years.
"Dean retired as an assistant superintendent of instruction, but I worked most closely with him when he was director of personnel," said Robert Y. Dubel, who headed the Baltimore County public schools for 16 years before retiring in 1992.
"He had the most amazing memory of names of anyone I've ever known. If 25 people in a room, many of them strangers, introduced themselves, he could immediately recall every first and last name," recalled Dr. Dubel.
"Dean was a very quiet, effective person as a principal and administrator in the central office," he said. "And as director of personnel, [he] greatly enhanced our staff development program and encouraged us to promote from within the system. He was just a really great person."
Anthony G. Marchione, former Baltimore County school superintendent and county administrative officer, was a longtime close friend.
"We've been friends since high school," said Dr. Marchione.
"Dean was a good person, and a very principled and hardworking man who always took his responsibilities very seriously. People loved working with him because he treated them with humanity and integrity," he said.
"He was a good person to know and work with. He was a kind and gentle person but had high expectations for himself and others, and everyone knew that," Dr. Marchione said.
Dr. Pickens had joined the Towson Jaycees while still in college. During his 16-year membership, he held every major office in the organization, and twice had been named Maryland Jaycee of the Month.
When he reached the eligibility age of 35, he transferred his enthusiasm to the Kiwanis Club of Parkville, where he was a member for 20 years and again held every major local office. He was also twice elected lieutenant governor of the 12th Division, and was presented the Hixson Award by Kiwanis International.
A resident of Perring Park for 38 years before moving to Perry Hall several years ago, Dr. Pickens had been an active communicant of St. Isaac Joques Roman Catholic Church, where he had been a lay Eucharistic minister, taught religion education classes, and had served as a member and president of the parish council.
Dr. Pickens had also been a parish delegate to the Vicariat Advisory Council and was a delegate to the Eastern Vicariat to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
He also had served from 1989 to 1994 as parish manager and was presented the Distinguished Service Award from the Central Division Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Dr. Pickens enjoyed traveling cross-country in his motor home with his wife and four children. He celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary by rafting through the Grand Canyon, and when he and his wife celebrated their 40th anniversary, they visited Disney World with their children and grandchildren.
A decade later, they returned to Disney World and also took a Disney cruise to celebrate their 50th — again with their children and grandchildren.
Dr. Pickens was also an avid bowler and bridge player.
A Mass of Christian burial was offered Wednesday at his church.
Surviving are his wife of 56 years, the former Joan Marie Migliarini; a son, Raymond Pickens of Eldersburg; three daughters, Cheryl Madden of Perring Park, Valentina Pickens of Middle River and Melanie Sainz of Valdosta, Ga.; eight grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.