In Memoriam: Elsie Dressler Helsel, 1915-2012

Elsie D. Helsel, associate professor emerita of curriculum and instruction and former chair of the special education department at Ohio University in Athens, died earlier this month at the age of 97.

In 1946 Dr. Helsel’s second child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She then became a life-long advocate for children with developmental disabilities. Although she held a master’s degree and Ph.D. in genetics, Dr. Helsel returned to school to obtain a master’s degree in special education. She then joined the faculty at Ohio University and became director of the Center for Human Development, a clinic for infants and young children with developmental disabilities.

“Dr. Helsel was a force to be reckoned with regarding the improvement of special education at the local, state, regional and especially at the national level,” said associate provost emerita and associate professor emerita of education Barbara Reeves. “She was instrumental in passage of landmark legislation regarding the services to those with special needs. She worked tirelessly and persistently for the ’cause.'”

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