By Julie Thunder
George Berkich, long-time principal of Cardiff Elementary School, recently passed away at his home in Oregon. He was 90 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Marjorie, who taught kindergarten at Cardiff school while George was the principal.
According to an old newsprint clipping kept at the District Office, in the late 50’s both George and Margorie were school teachers in Phoenix and would drive out to Santa Monica for vacation. On one of their trips, they drove through Cardiff and noticed the little school above Highway 101. They stopped their car in Solana Beach and telephoned the elementary school they had just seen in Cardiff. The superintendent, Ed Kufahl, answered the phone. When George asked for the personnel director, Kufahl told him, “You’re talking to everybody right now.”
They were hired by Kufahl and drove home to pack up. Upon moving to Cardiff, they found homes that sold for $8,500. The grocery store for the area was located in the Mercantil building at the corner of Chesterfield and San Elijo Avenues and had plank flooring.
George, along with Marjorie, worked at the school for a span of 27 years before retiring to Oregon. He is fondly remembered by many Encinitan’s who went to Cardiff Elementary School.
George Berkich is my idol. I always admire the way that everyone who speaks of him does so with pure fondness and respect. His tenure as Cardiff School Principal established a community culture of friendship and acceptance that still exists today. He visited the school regularly for many years after his retirement, always bringing a bag of tennis balls for the students to use at PE. His advice to me each visit was always the same, “Let them know that you really care and good things will happen.”Julie Parker
Principal, Cardiff Elementary
I think my biggest memory of Mr. Berkich is the way he referred to all of us (students, parents, staff) as “friends.” It really set the tone for our school and the community of Cardiff as a whole.Christa Stone
George Berkich was her principal when she was a student at Cardiff Elementary and Marjorie Berkich was her kindergarten teacher. Today, Christa teaches kindergarten at Cardiff Elementary School.
Even though George has lived in Oregon for many years, he still stayed connected to Cardiff School District. Recently, before he died, he made a generous donation to help support the Cardiff School rebuild by donating to the soon to be reconfigured playfields and equipment area. The District will be placing a plaque honoring him and his wife Marge when the playfields are completed.