Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in General News

Canadian Voice of Women mourns the passing of Dr. Rosalie Bertell, a long time Honourary member of VOW

Canadian Voice of Women mourns the passing of Dr. Rosalie Bertell.

photo by Allan Brown

Sister Rosalie Bertell, GNSH Dr. Rosalie Bertell, GNSH, Ph.D.

Sr. Rosalie Bertell, GNSH, Ph. D, an internationally recognized environmental epidemiologist, cancer researcher and public health advocate, died June 14, 2012, at age 83 in Saint Mary Medical Center, Langhorne, PA, in the 54th year of her religious life. Dr. Bertell entered the field of cancer research at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Buffalo in the 1970s. What started there grew into a lifetime devoted to research, writing, public speaking and advocacy work on the effects of low-level radiation on human health. Prior to founding the International Institute of Concern for Public Health in Toronto, Canada in 1984, she was an Energy/Public Health specialist at the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto for four years. Sister traveled the globe, researching and advising ways of dealing with the chemical and nuclear hazards which endanger the environment and erode the health of people worldwide until shortly before her death. Sister Rosalie authored two books, No Immediate Danger (1985) and Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War (2000) ) and more than a hundred articles. She was named to the Global 500 Roll of Honour 1993 (United Nations Environment Programme), and was the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, December, 1986. Among other accolades, Sister received numerous honorary doctorates in recognition of her scholarly and professional work and her efforts as a social justice advocate. Born and educated in Buffalo, New York, she earned her BA in Math/Physics/Education from D’Youville College. She was in the Buffalo Carmelite Community 1951-1956, leaving for health reasons. Before entering the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in 1958, she served on the faculty of Catholic University, Washington, DC for a year. From Catholic University, she received a Masters in Mathematics/Philosophy and a Doctorate in Mathematics/Biology/ Biometrics. Sister was in administration and on the faculty of Sacred Heart Junior College in Yardley, PA for ten years. She taught at D’Youville Academy in Chamblee, GA and was an Associate Professor of Mathematics for four years at D’Youville College. In addition to her religious family, Sister Rosalie is survived by nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, 1750 Quarry Rd., Yardley, PA 19067-3998. Wake Service at 7 PM on Sunday, June 17 and the funeral Mass at 10 AM on Monday, June 18 in Sacred Heart Chapel at the Grey Nuns’ Motherhouse in Yardley, PA. Burial will be in Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem, PA. Funeral arrangements byBeck Givnish Funeral Homes.

“Many of us have worked with Rosalie, loved her, admired her and learned from her. She was one of the outstanding examples of combining an exceptionally strong faith with an exceptionally fine scientific mind. Throughout her life, Rosalie was of frail health but had gigantic courage and fantastic endurance. Her persistent emphasis of the effects of low level radiation challenged official views and eventually changed standards and international norms. Her impact, as a citizen and as a scientist, can not be overemphasized. She will be missed by many. In 1984 The International Institute of Concern for Public Health was founded in Toronto, with Rosalie serving as its Director, The initial founding application was submitted by Dr. McDermid, Rosalie and myself ; I was a Board Member for several years. Our strong bonds of friendship and respect have lasted throughout the decades; I will always remember her in deep thankfulness.” Ursula

Ursula M. Franklin, CC, FRSC
University Professor Emerita
Senior Fellow
Massey College