Wass, Hannelore, Professor Emerita, University of Florida, died Friday, April 12th, 2013 at the age of 86. She is survived by her son Brian Wass; step-sons, Ray Sisler, his wife Susan, and David Sisler, his sons Gregory and Jonathon; and by step daughters, Betty Ann Rainbow, her husband Fred and children Andrew, Peter, and Leslie, and Susan Cole-Sisler, her husband Larry and daughter Lisa. Hannelore Wass’s husband, Harry H. Sisler, preceded her in death.
Hannelore Wass was a kind, loving, and compassionate person who will be missed by her family, and many friends and colleagues. Dr. Wass was born September 12, 1926 in Heidelberg, Germany and was an internationally recognized pioneer in thanatology, the study of death, dying and bereavement, and a sought after lecturer and consultant in the U.S. and abroad. She was the Founding Editor of the international professional journal Death Studies, now in its 36th year of publication.
Growing up in Germany, most of Hannelore’s childhood and adolescent years occurred during the Hitler dictatorship and her early adulthood was following WWII. In 1951, she was awarded a yearlong Training Fellowship for young German educators to study Democracy in U.S. schools and communities which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education under the Cultural Exchange Program. Upon her return to Germany, she established a Parent Teacher Association, took a leading role in a three year experimental teaching program, and developed curriculum for teaching English at the middle school level, among others, in the city of Mannheim, a school system which served as a model for adoption by the State of Baden. . In 1957, she received a teaching contract and immigrated to the United States to teach in the Pittsfield, MA school system which she had visited during her fellowship year.
Hannelore Wass earned the equivalent of a B.A. in Education when she was in Germany, and received her MA and PhD in human Development and Educational Philosophy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After various teaching positions, she joined the Department of Foundations of Education (Psychological) in the College of Education at the University of Florida. Her teaching and research focus was on the broad spectrum of human development, from childhood and adolescence to adulthood, aging, death and grief. Dr. Wass developed five graduate courses in these areas during her tenure at the University of Florida. She was an Associate Member of and Liaison to the Interdisciplinary Center for Gerontological Studies which was housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as, being participating faculty and serving for a number of years on the Center’s Steering Committee.
One of Hannelore’s professional concerns centered around children’s and adolescents’ encounters with death, including dying, grieving, suicide, lethal violence, and the portrayal of death in entertainment media. She promoted clinical and educational programs designed to prepare professionals and parents to help children and adolescents cope with these encounters and to transcend them. Hannelore advocated for integrating the subjects of death, grief, suicide, as well as, violence prevention and integration into school curricula. Dr. Wass published ten books, and over 100 articles and contributing chapters , in addition to being the Consulting Editor for Death Education, Aging and Health Care with 45 published titles during her editorship which report on research findings and give guidelines for practical applications for death education and counseling.
Memorial Services will be held on Monday, April 29, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist church, reception to follow. Inurnment will be at Forest Meadows Memorial Park Central, 4100 N.W. 39th Ave.