1923 - 2017
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REINHERZ, Dr. Helen (Zarsky) Beloved Professor at Simmons College was Social Work Pioneer Known for her independence, work ethic and intellect, Dr. Helen (Zarsky) Reinherz was considered a pioneer in the field of social work during her 43-year career as a professor and faculty member at Simmons College. But it is her work as the principal investigator on the groundbreaking Simmons Longitudinal Study that may be considered her most memorable contribution to the field. In 1977 Dr. Reinherz set out to follow the lives of 400 Quincy, Mass. kindergarten students, an equal number of boys and girls, who were starting school in the same community. By forming and testing hypotheses about behavior and emotional health and interviewing her subjects at different stages of life, she monitored and recorded their emotional and behavioral development. Launching the project wasn't easy. She needed funding at a time where there was little access to research grants, especially for women. Dr. Reinherz found the money and wrote the grants, often in her spare time, and secured the funds herself with her trademark determination and self-reliance. Her tenacity paid off, and her work became the foundation for the administrative support available to researchers at the Simmons School of Social Work today. Dr. Reinherz' study spanned 34 years, and was considered the longest running National Institute of Mental Health study of its time. While her cutting-edge research established her as a leader in the field and provided new data for prevention and intervention programs as well as parents and practitioners, she was also recognized for the humanity and care she showed her subjects. Dr. Reinherz was born in Boston in 1923 in Boston. A 1944 graduate of Wheaton College (magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa), Dr. Reinherz earned her master degree in social work from Simmons College in 1946 and her Sc.D. from the Harvard University School of Public Health in 1965. In addition to teaching at Simmons, Dr. Reinherz was a case worker for Family Services Bureau in Newton and child psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. A respected teacher, valued colleague and trusted mentor to generations of students and faculty, Dr. Reinherz also served as a student advisor at Simmons, steadily guiding generations of students toward their goals. Simmons College Deputy Provost Stefan Krug worked with Dr. Reinherz when he was a student in the Simmons Doctoral Program Dissertation Seminar, and later as a colleague. She was an inspiring instructor, Krug said, who both challenged and supported her students in the crafting of viable doctoral research proposals. "Helen kept her students from losing heart, sometimes with direct words of encouragement, but just as frequently with stories of her own successes and failures," said Deputy Provost Krug. "Even when we weren't sure just how we could pull it all off, Helen conveyed a confidence that, eventually, we would." Of her work at Simmons before her retirement in 2010, Dr. Reinherz wrote, "As a teacher I constantly learned from my students and saw the teaching relationship as mutual collaboration. Simmons provides an excellent environment for learning and teaching as all students are valued for their unique contribution to the class setting and ultimately the profession." Dr. Reinherz was considered a leader among her peers, and, along with her staff, published more than 60 articles in professional journals and book chapters and presented their work at national and international conferences. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, her highest honors include Simmons College Alumnae Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society of Social Work Research. Dr. Reinherz died on February 19, 2017 at the age of 93. She lived most of her life in Malden, before moving to Lexington. She was married to Samuel Reinherz, a WWII veteran, who died in 1990. She is survived by her son, Dr. Ellis Reinherz, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School, his partner Dr. Mikyung Kim, and two grandchildren, Jesse and Anna Reinherz. Services were held in February.

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Published in Boston Globe from Mar. 29 to Mar. 31, 2017.
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3 entries
August 6, 2018
I am so sad to hear about the passing of dear Helen, my mentor. I had the privilege of starting my research career with her and I could not have asked for a better teacher. I will always remember her gentle touch, her smarts, and her ease with people. She was a pioneer and an inspiration and set an excellent example for young women. She will be terribly missed.
Bilge Pakiz
April 1, 2017
I had the privilege of being taught by Dr. Reinherz at Simmons School of Social Work back in the 1980's. She helped her students, focused on learning clinical skills, to understand and appreciate the importance of research- and even (despite their uncertainty) to do research of their own. She was an accomplished teacher, clinician, scholar and researcher- and a kind and refined presence for us all.
Nancy Goldstein
March 30, 2017
Dr Helen Reinherz was an exceptional woman...professional ...friend...scholar.....I will always treasure her guidance. She was clearly one of a kind...A loss to all of us who had the pleasure of her friendship...

Anne Umana
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