Masterman’s beloved teacher, Kevin St. Clair, has died after being hit while riding his bike

Masterman’s beloved teacher, Kevin St. Clair, has died after being hit while riding his bike

Kevin St. Clair was good at a lot of things: he was a member of the US National Rowing Team five times and a coach who inspired athletes, both in rowing and running. He was an avid cyclist and competed in dozens of races a year and biked around Philadelphia in all types of weather.

But perhaps it was as an educator that he made his broadest impact: St. Clair was a beloved teacher, coach, and dean at the Julia R. Masterman School, where for decades he inspired students not only with lessons about mathematics, but also with real-world examples. About how to push yourself harder than you thought you could, and about the meaning of community and how to build it.

St. Clair was killed Monday after he was struck by a car as he rode his bike from his son’s home in Roxboro to his home in Chestnut Hill, turning from Wise Mill Road onto Henry Street just before 7 p.m. The initial impact of the crash pushed St. Clair into the northbound lane, where he was struck by another vehicle. He was taken to Einstein Medical Center where he died from his injuries. He was 65 years old.

Police said the investigation into the incident is continuing.

News of his death spread through Masterman and the cycling and rowing communities in Philadelphia, where St. Clair was a vibrant hub.

Tributes poured in on social media — “He was more of a father than a teacher,” “He made me feel important” and “My life was completely changed because of his kindness and complete dedication to his students and athletes.”

“Honesty, integrity and a lot of love”

Nicole McGeary was a St. Clair colleague, sixth-grade partner teacher, and friend for 24 years, during his years on the Masterman faculty, and after his recent retirement, when he remained part of the school as a substitute teacher.

“He was a great teacher, but when he became dean, it was amazing to see what he could do,” she said. “He organized everything — a fun day on the roof, an end-of-the-year dodgeball game. No one wants to do that with 200 sixth graders, but he did it,” McGeary said.

For generations of Masterman students, St. Clair was a prominent presence.

“He will tell you what you need to hear, even if it’s not easy to hear,” said Jacob Wintersteen, who attended Masterman University in the early 2000s. “He was always backed by honesty, integrity and a lot of love.”

St. Clair was Masterman’s cross country coach, and in 2004, Winterstine was the team’s captain, one of the legion of athletes who can still hear St. Clair in their heads saying “Attack the hill!” It always caught Winterstine’s attention that while many coaches might stand on the sidelines and blow a whistle, St. Clair was sweating it out next to them.

“When you get to the top of a hill, it’s understandable that your body is telling you to rest. He was teaching us that when you get to the top of a hill, you’re trying to run faster. You’re pushing beyond what you think is the limit. When I’m a parent and I think I’m tired, I might I took my body to its limits, I know there’s still more to come.” “I’m grateful he passed on these lessons to us,” Wintersteen said.

Strong moral compass

When Wintersteen’s mother, former Masterman principal Marge Neff, briefly left retirement to become Masterman’s interim principal in 2021, she brought back St. Clair as well. It was a difficult time for the school, navigating a transition between administrators, dealing with a pandemic and asbestos in the building, but St. Clair made things easier — not just because of his administrative skills, but because of who he was.

“You could always count on Kevin to do the right thing and do what needed to be done, but his intelligence was great — he was never lively, but he kept people engaged,” Neff said.

What stood out most about St. Clair was his moral compass, said Jessica Brown, another former Masterman principal.

“When students got in trouble and were referred to him, he spent a lot of time having conversations about the importance of being honest and kind to others,” Brown said. “He also told them that it was okay to make mistakes, you just had to be honest about what happened,” he added.

St. Clair was a man, the employee you’d find clearing tables in the lunch room, throwing ice cream parties to honor students, waiting until dark for a late parent to come pick up a student and never complaining, Brown said.

Chris Concio, another former Masterman student and athlete, described St. Clair as “one of Masterman’s GOATs,” someone Concio now finds himself emulating as a teacher in Philadelphia himself — a balance between goofy and kind, tough and understanding.

“I was 12 or 13 years old and there was this Iron Man coming into the classroom every day, and he was a great example,” Concio said. “

St. Clair loomed large in other circles, as a long-time member of the Vesper Boat Club who had several national rowing championships in rowing and sculling events under his belt. He was also an avid cyclist, filling his weekends with rides and races – St. Clair would alternate between his road bike and mountain bike, and he also loved cycling, in which riders race around a course of varied terrain, then carry their bike around obstacles and jump back. He has to resume the ride.

Kevin Appletans raced for and against St. Clair for 30 years, until last weekend.

“He was so competitive, when you’re in the heat of the moment, he doesn’t give you an inch,” Appletans said. “But when you get off the bike, it’s a completely different story.”

Despite St. Clair’s busyness, there was no doubt that his family was at the center of his life – his wife Ellen, his sons Jack and Wyatt, and his grandchildren Maximilian and Fulton.

When St. Clair died, he was biking home from his son’s house, which had sandy floors and ridges, combining his love of helping others with another passion, a handyman who delighted in breathing new life into old homes, as he had done with his family. Family home in Chestnut Hill.

Built for teaching

One of 12 children born to Jane and Jack St. Clair and raised on East Oak Lane, St. Clair initially stayed away from teaching, he told a Masterman student journalist.

His father was a longtime track teacher and coach, first at Cardinal Dougherty High School and then at Temple University; One of the brothers also became a teacher. Eventually, St. Clair decided that he wasn’t meant to become an accountant after all; It was built to teach.

“I hate to be cliche, but when you love what you do, you’ve never worked a day in your life, that’s true,” St. Clair told Masterman’s student publication.

He leaves behind his wife, children and grandchildren, as well as 10 of his brothers and a host of nieces and nephews.

Visitation is scheduled to be held Friday, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Funeral Home, 9 E. Chestnut Hill St., Philadelphia, where St. Clare was a parishioner and a member of the church choir, and on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. a funeral Mass will be held. At the church at 11 a.m

Memorial donations may be made to the funeral mat, the Vesper Club, or the Bicycle Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

    (tags for translation) Obituary for Kevin St. Clair Masterman in a bicycle accident

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