Obituary: Dr Rosalie Bertell, GNSH, PhD


Sister Rosalie Bertell, GNSH, PhD

Sister Rosalie Bertell, GNSH, PhD

Sister Rosalie Bertell, GNSH, PhD, an internationally recognized environmental epidemiologist, cancer researcher and public health advocate, died 14 June, 2012, at age 83 in Saint Mary Medical Center, Langhorne, PA, in the 54th year of her religious life. She was the daughter of the late Paul G Bertell and Helen Twohey Bertell of Buffalo, NY.

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.

She attended St Mary Academy, Kenmore, NY, received her diploma from Mt St Joseph Academy, Buffalo and earned her BA in Math/Physics/Education from D'Youville College. She entered the Carmelite Community in Buffalo in 1951, but her health prevented her from continuing beyond 1956. 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.

She was Associate Professor of Mathematics at D'Youville College, Buffalo, NY, from 1969 to 1973 and served for eight years as Senior Cancer Research Scientist at Roswell Park Memorial Hospital in Buffalo 1970-78. Sister was Assistant Research Professor, Graduate School, State University of New York in Buffalo, for four years, and Director of Research and Biostatistical/Radiation Health Consultant at the Ministry of Concern for Public Health, Buffalo, NY. She worked as Energy/Public Health Specialist at the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice, Toronto, Canada, from 1980 to 1984. In 1984, Sister Rosalie founded the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, in Toronto, Canada. For a number of years, she was Editor in Chief of International Perspectives in Public Health.

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 7pm on Sunday, 17 June and the funeral Mass at 10am on Monday, 18 June in Sacred Heart Chapel at the Grey Nuns’ Motherhouse in Yardley, PA. Burial will be in Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem, PA. Funeral arrangements by Beck Givnish Funeral Homes.


Tags: Sister Rosalie Bertell

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