COLUMBIA — Even when the fish were not biting, Alex Bermudez still enjoyed the solitude and peace he found while he fished.
"He grew up in the Virgin Islands, so he was a really good fisherman," his wife, Lisa Bermudez, said. "He had a great curiosity about nature."
Alex Jose Bermudez of Columbia died suddenly Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, due to a blood clot. He was 55.
Dr. Bermudez was born on Feb. 25, 1957, in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
He married Lisa Lundelius of Pennsylvania in 1980.
He received a Bachelor of Science from Bates College in Maine and went on to receive a Master of Science in nuclear medicine and doctoral degree of veterinary medicine in 1986 from the University of Illinois.
After an avian medicine internship at North Carolina State University, he worked at the University of Connecticut and Ohio State University. In 1991, he began working at the MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory as an avian pathologist. For the past seven years, he served as the director of the laboratory.
Linda Berent was an associate professor at MU and worked at the MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory; she worked closely with Dr. Bermudez when he became director.
"He helped to shape how I view my role and responsibility not only as faculty member, but also as a mentor to younger faculty and students," Berent said.
Berent said that when she made her transition from professor at the laboratory to MU's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Bermudez was her aid and source of advice.
"He was always my sounding board with the transition," Berent said. "If I ever needed help or any guidance, his door was always open. It has been fabulous to have him on my side and on my team."
Many of his co-workers shared similar feelings on having him as their boss at the laboratory.
"He was a great human being, a wonderful administrator and a top-notch scientist and you can't get any better than that," said William Fales, who worked with Dr. Bermudez for several years as section leader for bacteriology and mycology.
Dr. Bermudez was also a member of the American Association of Avian Pathologists and the American College of Poultry Veterinarians. He was elected president of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians in July.
He was an active member of the Evangelical Free Church and later became a member at the International Community Church. Bill Younker, the pastor of the International Community Church, said that Dr. Bermudez helped many people and helped the church in many ways.
"Alex helped with some of the most menial things like taking out the garbage or setting things up for refreshment time," Younker said. "He was a behind-the-scene guy."
He also led a bible study at the church. Younker said that Dr. Bermudez and his wife were always side by side.
"They loved to do ministry together," Younker said.
Dr. Bermudez also helped international students through the church.
"He helped people get furniture, and he helped the international students move with the pickup truck that he had," Younker said.
Lisa Bermudez said that she has been visited by many international students over the past few days.
"Many of them have said that he was like a father to them and a very good friend," Lisa Bermudez said.
Beyond his commitment to his job and his church, Dr. Bermudez is remembered as a devoted member to his family.
"He has called his father in Puerto Rico on the phone every night since his mother died," Lisa Bermudez said. "He is a very devoted son."
Dr. Bermudez had a passion for nature and animals, and he shared that with his family.
"We would be driving down the road and a bird would fly by, and he would be able to name the type of bird," Lisa Bermudez said. "He taught me all about birds and identifying them."
"He would take his nieces and nephews out to fish and teach them all about fishing," Lisa Bermudez said. "He was very patient in teaching them how to get a bite."
Dr. Bermudez is survived by his wife, Lisa; a daughter, Alexa; two sons, Steven and his wife, Carla, and Peter, all of Columbia; a father, José Bermudez of Puerto Rico; a half-brother, Jan Henle, and his wife, Dee, of New York City.
His mother, Atti Vandenberg Bermudez, died earlier.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W., Columbia, Mo. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Evangelical Free Church, 600 Silvey St., Columbia Mo.
Memorial contributions can be made to the International Community Church at 1107 University Ave., Columbia, MO 65201, or to MU, W210 Vet Med Building, Columbia, MO 65211.
Tributes can be posted at www.memorialfuneralhomeandcemetary.com.