Disabled people champion Margaret Giannini dies at 100

She never graduated from Temple and needed one more credit, in organic chemistry, to meet pre-med requirements at Hahnemann. The only ne...


She never graduated from Temple and needed one more credit, in organic chemistry, to meet pre-med requirements at Hahnemann. The only nearby university that offered organic chemistry during the summer was Villanova, which at the time only accepted men. She signed up anyway, but after attending classes for a week, officials insisted she leave. Her teacher offered to tutor her and said if she passed the exam he would give her the credit she needed. She was successful and began her medical studies in the fall of 1941.

She graduated in 1945 – one of three women in the class, Hahnemann’s second to accept women – and interned at New York Medical College. A friend set him up on a blind date with Dr. Louis J. Salerno, who had just returned from service as a major in the army at the end of the war. They were married in 1948 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

She kept her own name, which was very unusual at that time. She and her husband were both professors at New York Medical College (she taught pediatrics, he taught obstetrics and gynecology), and she wanted to minimize any confusion.

In addition to her son Louis, she is survived by three other sons, Robert, Justin and Mark Salerno; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Her husband is dead in 1988.

Dr Giannini’s work at the Mental Retardation Institute, of which she was director from 1950 to 1978, caught the attention of President Jimmy Carter, who appointed her as the first director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (now the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research).

After Mr. Carter’s defeat in the 1980 election, she joined the Department of Veterans Affairs, where she expanded her work to include physical disabilities associated with military service, including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury. , blindness, deafness and other problems.

In her second presidential nomination, President George W. Bush appointed her as the Senior Assistant Under Secretary for Aging in the Department of Health and Human Services. There she met Tommy Thompson, the department secretary, who appointed her director of the department’s disability office in 2002.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Disabled people champion Margaret Giannini dies at 100
Disabled people champion Margaret Giannini dies at 100
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