Bruce and Helen Fallert, MSW ’59

From the moment they entered social work, Bruce Fallert (MSW ’59) and Helen Fallert (MSW ’59) were ahead of their time. First, it took some persuading for GSSW to accept them as the school’s first married student couple. When both later sought employment with the Idaho Division of Retardation, Bruce was offered a higher salary despite their equal qualifications, so Helen chose to run a foster care program instead – the only one in the state at the time, since the Welfare Director didn’t consider foster care a viable service!

As their careers subsequently took them to Ohio and Minnesota, Bruce served as director of Dayton’s Travelers Aid and Duluth’s Family Service Agency, while Helen worked in adoption and served as a mental health consultant to schools. Along the way, the Fallerts helped establish NASW chapters in several areas that hadn’t had them before, and Helen chaired a national NASW committee. 

While Bruce became a social work field instructor for Florida State University and later directed a five-county mental health board, Helen continued to pioneer new programs and ideas in the state. She ran an innovative education program for the “retarded” that long-time staffers initially resisted, she was the only woman among 40 men while working at the country’s first Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, she opened one county’s first Office on Aging, and she helped create an 11-county Area Agency on Aging.

Bruce Fallert died in 1996. Helen continues, at 85, to ride her bike five miles each day.