Scott Beigel, a teacher formerly of Dix Hills who died protecting students during the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, was remembered Sunday for his sharp wit and selfless nature.
Loved ones spoke through tears at Beigel’s funeral in Boca Raton, Florida, repeatedly describing the popular teacher as a hero.
“I don’t want Scott’s memory to be the horrific moment on that afternoon,” his father, Michael Schulman, said at Temple Beth-El. “Scott’s heroism was not that instant. Scott’s heroism was his entire life.”
Beigel was one of 17 people killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. The 35-year-old teacher and cross-country coach was shot as he tried to lock a classroom door to shield students hiding inside, according to news reports.
His mother, Linda Schulman, said Beigel called her every day as he was leaving work. She became concerned Wednesday when she looked at her watch at 2:25 p.m. and realized he hadn’t called her yet.
“Minutes passed like hours as I waited for your response,” she said. “The rest is a total living nightmare and I’m still trying to swallow the fact there will never again be a response.”
Beigel, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, also leaves behind fiancee Gwen Gossler, whom he had been with for seven years, family said.
Beigel had been working at Stoneman Douglas for “a mere six months,” his father said. Beigel had served as a youth counselor at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania and had volunteered in South Africa.
Friends, family and colleagues praised Beigel’s sarcastic sense of humor, with nearly every speaker cracking a smile or chuckle while reminiscing about his jokes.
Sandra Davis, the head of the school’s social studies department, said she and another staffer knew they wanted to hire Beigel within two minutes of meeting him, partly because he was “like having your own private Jerry Seinfeld.”
“Scott was true and authentic,” Davis said. “He showed us all how we should be living our lives.”
Mourners applauded as Denise Reed, the school’s assistant principal, asked the other faculty in attendance to stand in recognition of their helping 3,300 students escape the shooting.
Linda Schulman said that a day before the shooting, she received a letter Beigel wrote her that parodied ones he sent her from camp as a kid.
In a letter she wrote back to him after his death, she called him “an amazing man” and added: “Everyone you have touched will never be the same. I love you, Scott. Please let me know where you are, Mom.”