Monday, Oct. 25, 2010 | 10:50 a.m.
If students at Eldorado High School know one thing about their former science teacher, 50-year-old Timothy VanDerbosch, it's that he changed lives for the better.
Hundreds of current and former students and school staff members walked along Washington Avenue at 6 a.m. Monday, using the path VanDerbosch trekked each morning on his way to school and where he was killed Wednesday after being beaten, robbed and hit by a car.
"He was strict, but at the same time, his students were everything to him," said former student Juan Carlos Flores, a 2010 graduate of Eldorado High. "Since he helped me out in high school, I thought it was only fair for me to come back and pay respects."
Metro Police cordoned off a stretch of Washington Avenue from Nellis Boulevard to the high school as the mass of students and staff carried candles, stopping briefly at a makeshift memorial at Betty Lane.
Police linked the attack on VanDerbosch, which happened near Washington Avenue and Betty Lane, to at least four violent robberies that occurred within three hours early Wednesday. Police have numerous leads, but haven't made any arrests in the case.
The crowd didn't dwell on the violence that stole their teacher's life. Instead, they remembered the man who, they said, always had his students' best interests at heart.
Catherine Fletcher, head of the science department at Eldorado High, remembers VanDerbosch as a man who skipped lunch to tutor students, clipped newspaper articles to recognize their achievements and never hesitated to help fellow teachers.
He organized popular "egg drops" from bleachers for his physics classes and became red in the face whenever talking about one of his passions, such as the Chicago White Sox, Fletcher said.
"He was someone you could always count on to be there for you," she said.
VanDerbosch taught science classes, including chemistry and physics, at Eldorado High for 15 years — making it his mission to help students graduate.
"He pushed you to your limit," said former student Alejandra Hguir, who had VanDerbosch for a freshman science class. "He would get angry if you didn't do your best."
And VanDerbosch knew that teaching science — the arch nemesis of some high school students — called for creativity to reach his audience. In class, he often adopted funny voices for each chemical while teaching, former student Caitlin Soto said.
"He was always exciting; he was never boring," she said. "You would get it faster because it was fun to learn."
Banners and posters plastered on Eldorado High property paid homage to VanDerbosch and Pamela Orr-Sowers, a special education teacher who died last week after battling an illness.
"To laugh often and much is what both people did," said Principal Danielle Miller, referencing a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem.
VanDerbosch's siblings, who flew in from Ohio and Indiana, also spoke during the memorial, praising the community for its outpouring of support.
His sister, Lori Delosreyes, said they found transparencies with physics equations scattering VanDerbosch's home, along with several Sharpie pens and physics books — evidence of his commitment to teaching.
"I hope his spirit lives on in each of you," she said.
While going through his belongings, Terry VanDerbosch said he found documents indicating his brother had perfect attendance at Eldorado High School for the past seven years.
"He took his job very seriously," he said. "He was one of a kind."