Remembering Leaders

Dr. Diane Kelly - August 21, 2012

In Memory of Dr. Diane Kelly

August 21, 2012

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our dear friend and colleague, Diane Kelly. She passed away on Tuesday, August 21 surrounded by her family and friends. Diane was the project director of Connections Beyond Sight and Sound: Maryland's Project on Deaf-Blindness, since 1991, after receiving her PhD from the Department of Special Education, University of Maryland.

For those of us who worked with her, we will miss her color-coded organization, her insistence at having "Norm" at every meeting, and her forms (and forms, and forms).  If you did not know Diane personally, you may have seen her in the halls of the Benjamin Building as she searched for her sidekick, Stuart C. Kelly, who knew how to find new friends and possible treats. Stu took his cues from Diane, for she never met a stranger. Her daughter said that if she left her mom in a store while shopping, she would come back and her mom had a new best friend. Diane had an amazing way of connecting with people and staying close to those she loved. "Connections" is an appropriate name for the project she directed and loved.

Through her work with Connections Beyond Sight and Sound, Diane was an advocate in the state and in the nation for children with dual sensory impairment. Her accomplishments are numerous, including a demonstration classroom at Maryland School for the Blind, a multi-state CVI project, numerous family learning weekends, multiple state-wide trainings and conferences, intervener training and mentoring, local deaf-blind support teams, and site-based individualized supports for children with deaf-blindness. Woven through it all was her passion and love for children with the most serious challenges, and a desire to improve the lives of children and families.

Diane had cancer - small cell neuro-endocrine carcinoma - a cancer that almost always takes people very swiftly. But Diane was a fighter. She waged a two-year battle with a determination and optimism that inspired us all. She never gave into the "odds" or considered defeat. Even in her last week, writing from her hospital bed, she described her recurrence as a "detour" on the journey. Diane will be

Harvey Haynes MAR

May 17, 2012

Harvey Mar, age 61, born April 30, 1951 in Seattle. Resided in New York City since 1972. Beloved father of Julia Mar, 16, Tessie Mar, 12, and spouse to Katherine Mar. Son of Ling (deceased) and Fannie Mar, dear brother to Faye Ogilvie (Peter), Laureen Mar (Frank Abe), and Nora Mar (Leo Hamaji), and beloved uncle to many nieces and nephews. Developmental psychologist for thirty years, community organizer, poker player, sailor, singer, devoted friend. Deceased suddenly due to a head trauma on May 17. Public viewing Friday, May 25, 3:00-7:00 pm. Funeral service Saturday, 5/26 at 1:00 pm, both at Butterworth-Arthur Wright Chapel, 520 W. Raye St., Seattle. Remembrances may be made to the Eastern Long Island Chapter of The Nature Conservancy at

Published in The Seattle Times from May 23 to May 25, 2012
Dr. Hank Alexander Bersani Jr.

Dr. Hank Alexander Bersani Jr

WOU mourns the loss of beloved professor

March 31, 2012 — wounews

Dr. Hank Alexander BersaniJr, resident of Monmouth, and professor of special education at Western Oregon University, died as result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident. The accident occurred today, Saturday, March 31, at about 11:20 a.m. Bersani had been riding his bicycle near Highway 99 north of Monmouth. Lt. Greg Hastings of the Oregon State Police said that Bersani was struck by a pickup truck while crossing Highway 99.

Bersani was a respected teacher, scholar and leader in the field of special education. He earned his bachelor’s degree at St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vermont and then went on to earn both master’s and doctorate degrees from Syracuse University in New York.

Bersani joined Western Oregon University in 1999 after serving at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in the areas of public health and preventive medicine. He also provided training coordination for the OHSU in special education and rehabilitative counseling. Bersani had extensive experience elsewhere providing administrative, instructional or research services for Community Integration Associates, Arc of Oregon, Human Services Research Institute, Portland State University, Lewis & Clark College, Oregon Association for Retarded Citizens, National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research, Syracuse University, the Joseph P. KennedyJr Foundation and other institutions affiliated with the research of the disabled.

His work about people with disabilities has been nationally recognized in books like “Public Health and Disability,” “Me and My A.T.: Students and their Assistive Technology,” “Speaking Up and Spelling it Out: Personal Essays on Alternative and Augmentative Communication,” and “Responding to the Challenge: Current Issues and International Development in Developmental Disabilities, Quality Assurance for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities”Bersani’s publication record is extensive and included scores of articles dating from 1980, before he completed his doctoral dissertation. He has spoken at international conferences in South Africa, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia and throughout the United States.

Bersani taught a range of courses at Western Oregon University in the field of special education. He also shared his knowledge and expertise with the Forgotten People Foundation, an organization assisting special needs children and adults in Vietnam. In January of this year, Bersani participated in an international forum on disability issues in Doha, Qatar, and toured the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs.

Bersani was the recipient of many awards including the Mario and Alma Pastega Scholarship Award, the Multnomah County Arc Educator of the year award, the Rosemary F. Dybwad International Travel Fellowship Award, the Mary Switzer Distinguished Research Fellowship, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the Franklin Smith National Service Award, Association of Retarded Citizens U.S., Public Policy Leadership Fellowship, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr Foundation, Washington, DC., he was assigned to U.S. Senator John H. Chaffee and he was a Fellow in the American Association on Mental Retardation. Bersani was also past president of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Bersani is survived by his wife, Lynda, of Monmouth, a son, Alex, and a daughter, Lisa, both of Portland. He was the son of Henry and Mathilda Bersani. Bersani was known for his love of bicycling, travel and, moreover, the love of his family and the interaction he had with his students.

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, April 4 from 2 to 8 p.m. at Bollman Funeral Home, located at 694 Main Street, Dallas, Ore. 97338. On Thursday, April 5, a second visitation will be held at St. Philip’s Parish Catholic Church Day Chapel (825 SW Mill St. in Dallas) from 9:30 to 11 a.m. A mass and funeral will follow at 11 a.m., with a reception held as soon as the service concludes. A celebration of life will be held at Western Oregon University on Saturday, April 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Pacific Room of Werner University Center.

Please leave your thoughts and memories of Dr. Bersani in the comments on this post.

Berdell (Pete) Henry Wurzburger - Aug. 2, 1924

Berdell (Pete) Henry Wurzburger

August 2, 1924 - December 15, 2011

Resident of Concord Born in Sullivant Township, Ford County, Illinois, Pete passed away peacefully at home on December 15, 2011. Pete joined his wife Ina, who left us just five months ago, on July 12, 2011. Pete and Ina had been married for 65 years. He leaves behind three adult children, Stephen Wurzburger (Ruth) of Goodyears Bar, CA, Terry Wurzburger of San Jose, CA and Kristie Wurzburger of Concord, CA. Pete also leaves behind his beloved granddaughter Mary (Wurzburger) Rosellen and two great-granddaughters Taylor and Chase Rosellen, all from Truckee, CA.

Pete was born on August 2, 1924, to Fay Floyd Wurzburger and Frances Ann (Garman) Wurzburger. Pete grew up in Sibley, Illinois and graduated from Sibley High School in 1942. Pete met his future wife Ina Mae (Otto) Wurzburger during their high school years.

In 1942, as soon as he was of age, Pete joined the Navy. In 1944, while his ship was anchored in the San Francisco Bay, off Hunter's Point, Pete wrote to Ina and proposed marriage. The couple married on February 10, 1946, at the Gibson City Methodist Church in Gibson City, Illinois. Like most servicemen, Pete took advantage of the GI Bill and attended college. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1949 with a degree in Corrective Physical Education. Pete continued his education at the University of Illinois, but left in 1951 when he took a job as a corrective therapist at the Department of Physical Medicine at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Hines, Illinois. In 1958 Pete moved his family West to California when he took a position at the Orientation Center for the Blind in Oakland, CA. In the early 1960s he became a supervisor in the Orientation and Mobility Program for the Alameda County Schools. It was during this time he started lecturing at San Francisco State University. In 1966 Pete received a fulltime appointment as a professor of Special Education in Orientation and Mobility (O&M) for the visually impaired.

Pete was a pioneer in his field and established the fourth graduate program nationwide in the preparation of orientation and mobility instructors. He was the first in the country to acknowledge that blind persons could be orientation and mobility instructors and put his name and reputation on the line by admitting the first blind person into the graduate program at San Francisco State University. Pete retired in 1984 but continued working in O&M for severely multi-handi-capped, visually impaired persons at Sonoma Developmental Center. He continued his work in the area of preschool introduction to the cane by working with very young children.

Pete was a quiet, sensitive and gentle man who seldom said anything negative about anyone, except when behind the wheel of his car. He had a wicked sense of humor and was the king of the one-liners. He will be missed by his former students, his friends, and especially by his family. The family would like to thank the caregivers who took care of Pete and Ina for the last three years. Those caregivers include: Robin Kala, Nativi Halafihi, Nani Kala-Abrego, Angela "Gigi" Sink, Carol Mays and Christina Finau. The family would also like to thank Hospice of the East Bay for the wonderful care they provided Pete over the last nine months. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to: American Foundation for the Blind at or the Phil Hatlen Center for the Blind at
Published in Contra Costa Times on December 22, 2011

James C. Bliss, Resiident of Los Altos

January 24, 2012

Link to

Dr. James C. Bliss, a prominent technological innovator in Silicon Valley, has died after a long courageous battle with multiple myeloma. He was a pioneer in the development of technology for the blind and visually impaired and co-founder of Telesensory Systems.

Dr. Bliss was born in Fort Worth, Texas on October 21, 1933. He grew up in Oklahoma City and Chicago. He earned a BS from Northwestern University, an MS from Stanford University, and a PhD from M.I.T, all in Electrical Engineering. He began his engineering career at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. While working there he joined forces with Prof. John Linvill at Stanford University to develop a reading machine for John's daughter, Candy, who was blind. After several years of development, the result was a small portable reading system called the Optacon, which revolutionized the blindness field. During this time he was also an Associate Professor at Stanford University, where he taught Electrical Engineering courses and supervised PhD candidates.

In 1971, he co-founded Telesensory Systems to manufacture and disseminate the Optacon, as well as other high technology products and technologies, including speech synthesis, for people who were blind or had low vision. He served as President of Telesensory Systems for over 20 years. He was also instrumental in founding several other Silicon Valley companies, including Speech Plus Inc. and Datacopy Corp. After leaving Telesensory Systems, he founded JBliss Imaging, where he served as President for 5 years.

In 2007 he received the Migel Medal - the highest honor in the blindness field - from the American Foundation for the Blind.

In retirement, he served on the Santa Clara County Advisory Commission for Persons with Disabilities and the Los Altos Hills Pathway Committee. After moving to Parc Regent in Los Altos, he continued his interest in hiking, even writing a book on the subject. He has also been active in raising funds for multiple myeloma research organizations.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, his daughter, Judith and her husband Gerald, his son, John and his wife Kim and four grandchildren, Paul and Jane Huff and Tom and Mandela Bliss, and his sister Linda Bliss and her family in Minnesota.

Donations may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main Ave, 5th floor, Norfolk, CT, 06851. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on January 27, 2012

Dr. Victor L. Baldwin, Teaching Research Institute

Dr. Victor L. Baldwin

Dr. Victor L. Baldwin, Teaching Research Institute- passed away on Saturday July 16th after a long and courageous battle with multiple myeloma at his home in Monmouth.

Vic began his work with the Oregon State System of Higher Education housed on the Oregon College of Education campus (now WOU) in April 1968 as an Assistant Research Professor with the Teaching Research Division (currently The Teaching Research Institute).  He became the Director in 1978 and was at the helm of TR for the next twenty years.  In his semi-retirement he focused his work as a Principal Investigator in deaf-blindness with what is currently the National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness. He had more than 30 years of experience in the field of deaf-blindness, a strong background in administrative oversight, extensive knowledge of Federal and state legislation, initiatives and grants, and a history of collaborative relationships with a wide variety of Federal agencies and state departments and agencies.

There will be a celebration of life on Tuesday, July 26th, Vic’s Birthday, at the Gentle House from 2p-4p.

June Downing

June Downing

It is with great personal sadness that I am writing to let you know that one of our long time members, contributors, authors, and former Board members passed away last night. June Downing has been an incredible inspiration to so many, many families, upcoming professionals, educators in the field, and individuals with disabilities. I remember when I first saw June at a TASH Conference. I was in awe of her and loved her message; she made inclusion seem so easy and natural. As I got to know her, I was more inspired and humbled by her patience, grace, and teachings.

June, despite her relative youth, fought a battle with cancer over the last 18 months. Her family and friends have been by her side constantly; she even recovered enough to join us at our last TASH Conference and participate over this past year in the TASH education committee. In the words of her loved ones: “She leaves behind this community that represents the same beauty and strength she demonstrated throughout her life. Although her life has ended, her love, heart, passion, advocacy and grace continues to shine on through each of us.”

Even if you did not know June, please take a moment of silence to be thankful for one person who has made such a difference in the lives of so many, and wish her a peaceful journey.

Carol Quirk - TASH Board President

  • Warren D. Figueiredo - (January 25, 1952 - May 19, 2010) - He spent his life in service to the blind community as an educator and a braille producer.
  • Samuel A. Kirk, 92, Pioneer Of Special Education Field
  • Patricia Beattie, 73, who retired in 2006 as director of public policy and consumer relations with the National Industries for the Blind, which works to create jobs for the blind, died Feb. 2 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. She had cancer.
  • Stephen Barrett, who started visionary programs to help those who had lost their sight and hearing to live self-reliant, rewarding lives, died Saturday of esophageal cancer. The recently retired president and CEO of Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh was 60.
  • JoLeta M. Reynolds, age 67, was born October 17, 1942 and died April 16, 2010 at her residence following a seven-year illness. 
  • Leland C. Sanborn, 98, passed away on Sunday, December 20, 2009
  • Dr. Evelyn J. Rex  1923-2009 - Dr. Evelyn J. Rex, 86, Normal, passed away at 5:48 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 15, 2009) at BroMenn Regional Medical Center, Normal.
  • Lawrence R. Fleischer, Ed .D. - 1945 – 2009 - Remembering Service Information