Goodbye Mr. Lim: Last Chinese New Year spread for popular Bowman teacher

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Greetings of “gung hay fat choy” were interspersed with hugs and reminiscing Monday as retiring teacher Richard Lim served his final Chinese New Year’s smorgasbord. Lim, 60, is retiring after 32 years as a teacher at Bowman School. His final day will be Aug. 2. Monday’s Chinese New Year feed was something Lim started early in his time with the school and it has evolved into a cherished tradition. The school’s tradition will, apparently, die with Lim’s retirement. The Roseville resident said he has no plans to continue to prepare the annual meal after he leaves teaching behind. Monday’s feed attracted a steady stream of current students, past students, educators and parents. While the food was a popular attraction, the real focus was on a teacher described by some as an “icon” and by others as a legend. “This school is a true, extended family,” Lim said. “People accepted me and I’m grateful for the time here.” Bonnie Brewer has seen a daughter and granddaughter attend the school. “People fought to get their kids into his class because they felt he was a good teacher,” Brewer said. “He’s so good with the kids and math. He made sure they learned it right. And he would come to the school early and leave late just so the kids would help. He’s a very unique man.” Carl Wagner, a 20-year-school Ackerman School District board member, said Lim has combined discipline with TLC. Wagner said visits to Lim’s third-grade classroom have demonstrated to him that the children are both happy and attentive. “The best thing we ever did was hire him,” Wagner said. Bob Dickinson, a kindergarten teacher for 12 years at Bowman, described Lim as “probably one of the best teachers ever to work here.” Dickinson said that Lim’s love for students shines through in the little things he does like home visits and his obvious concern for the welfare of the children. “He’s certainly an icon who will be missed,” Dickinson said. Approaching retirement, Lim reminisced about growing up in Woodland, the son of a Chinese restaurant owner from Canton. But instead of continuing on with a family business that had been established in 1930, Lim decided on higher education, graduating from the University of California, Davis. Lim was hired as a first-grade teacher and then moved up to teaching eighth grade for one before settling into the third grade. As for the future, after August, Lim said he’ll be working with wife, a retired state worker, to help raise two grandchildren with one of their two daughters. He’ll also be busy working on three “project” cars and fixing up his house.