Felix Mario Berardo

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Dr. Felix M. Berardo, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Florida succumbed to a long battle with a glioblastoma brain tumor on September 18 at his home in Gainesville, Florida.

Dr. Berardo was an internationally renowned scholar in Social Gerontology, the Sociology of Marriage and the Family, and Death, Dying and Survivorship education. Born 9th among 12 Italian immigrant children to a Waterbury, Connecticut family, Dr. Berardo often stressed the importance of remembering one's ethnic heritage. In his Sociology of Death and Survivorship courses he often quizzed students to reveal what they knew about their roots, resulting in many college student phone calls to grandparents to collect family stories.

He received his B.A. from the University of Connecticut (1961) and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Florida State University (1965). Subsequently he joined the faculty at Washington State University. He moved to the University of Florida in 1969 as an Associate Professor.

Among his peers, Dr. Berardo was known for his directness, integrity, and original thinking. He was among the first to identify and write in the areas of widowhood; privacy and the family; age discrepant marriages; and the sociology of risk. A talented and popular teacher, he inspired several generations of students. His radio interviews during the holidays usually focused on ways to cope with being single and alone during the holiday season.

Professor Berardo's teaching and research spanned the fields of family sociology and social gerontology. He published widely in both areas. In addition to over 100 articles and chapters, he co-authored or co-edited ten book length manuscripts, including Emerging Conceptual Frameworks in Family Analysis, with F. Ivan Nye (1966, 1981; The Family: Its Structure and Interactions (1973), also co-authored with F. Ivan Nye; and Dying: Facing the Facts (1988). He guest-edited several special issues of professional journals, including one on Family Privacy in the Journal of Family Issues, and served as Editor of the Journal of Marriage and the Family, the leading specialized journal in the field. He also served on the Publications Board and the Board of Directors of the National Council on Family Relations, was twice nominated for President of the NCFR, and was President of the Florida Council on Family Relations.

His work in gerontology concentrated primarily in the areas of the sociology of death and survival. He published his first research article on widowhood in 1967, a work still cited in the literature on this topic. He was among an early small group of scholars whose work gave impetus to what later emerged as the death education movement in the United States. In recognition of his contributions in this area, he received the Arthur Peterson Award in Death Education in 1985. A corollary interest is reflected in his work on survivorship, including the area of risk-taking as it impacts on health and longevity. He also taught a course at the University of Florida for over two decades on the Sociology of Death and Survivorship combing these interests. Other areas of interest were that of life transitions including age-dissimilar marriages and life- span transitions and family gerontology.

Dr. Berardo was awarded the status of Fellow by the Gerontological Society of America and the National Council on Family Relations, recognizing his stature and expertise in those fields. The National Council on Family Relations, the interdisciplinary association of family scholars in the United States, acknowledged his crucial importance in assisting young scholars by establishing the Felix Berardo Mentorship Award. In 2002, the Journal of Marriage and the Family identified his work, Emerging Conceptual Frameworks in Family Analysis, co-edited with his mentor Professor Ivan Nye, as a 20th Century classic in that field. Few academics receive such recognition in their lifetimes.

In his service to the University of Florida, Professor Berardo served as Associate Chair and Chair of the Department of Sociology, President
Published in Gainesville Sun from Sept. 23 to Sept. 24, 2008