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Henry "Hank" Bersani



Henry “Hank” Alexander Bersani, Jr.  President, AAIDD 2006-2007

Henry “Hank” Bersani, Jr., PhD, President of the AAIDD 2006-2007 Board of Directors, passed away following a traffic accident in Monmouth, Oregon on March 31, 2012. He was 61.

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

Over the course of his career he held positions at Syracuse University, Oregon Health & Sciences University, and Western Oregon University. His influence extended to collaborations with Community Integration Associates, Arc of Oregon, Human Services Research Institute, Portland State University, Lewis & Clark College, Oregon Arc, and the Multnomah County Arc. 

A Fellow of AAIDD, Dr. Bersani also served as a Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Public Policy Fellow, assigned to U.S. Senator John H. Chaffee, and a Mary Switzer Distinguished Research Fellow with the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.  He was an integral part of the Association’s name change from AAMR to AAIDD.

He 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, and the Franklin Smith National Service Award of the Arc of the US.

Nationally and internationally known, he leaves an extensive body of scholarship, teaching, and service.  He was the author of numerous articles, chapters, and books touching on public health, service quality, and communication.  A professor of special education at WOU, he taught a generation of future leaders in the field, and leaves a legacy support and service projects in the US, Qatar, Vietnam, and Armenia.

Dr. 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 Mathilde Bersani and loved bicycling.

Read his AAIDD Presidential Address Here


Visitation held at Bollman Funeral Home, Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 2-8:00pm

Funeral held at St. Philip Catholic Church, Thursday, April 5, 2012, 11:00 am

Celebration of Life held at Western Oregon University, Saturday, April 7, 2012 1-4pm

Online condolences and rememberances may be posted through the funeral home and the WOU websites.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to a memorial scholarship for special education students at WOU, Forgotten Peple Foundation, or AAIDD. Checks may be made out to the charity of choice and sent to the funeral home for disposition.

Click here to make a donation to AAIDD in his memory.