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New plaque outside the room, establishing and dedicating the room to Commissioner Bartels at 600 Washington Street, Boston.

New plaque outside the room, establishing and dedicating the room to Commissioner Bartels at 600 Washington Street, Boston.

It is with great pleasure that the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) announces the newly dedicated Elmer C. Bartels Conference room.

This month, the MRC dedicated a room on the second floor of our Administrative Office in Boston to the memory and spirit of former Commissioner Elmer C. Bartels. The dedication encapsulated Commissioner Bartels’ passion of his pursuit for economic independence and equality for people with disabilities.

“Having known Commissioner Bartels for many years, I like many stand on his shoulders and owe him a debt of gratitude for all the work he did through the course of life that enabled thousands of people with disabilities to live independently in the community and go to work.”  — MRC Commissioner Charles Carr

Photo hanging inside the room.

Photo hanging inside the room.

Commissioner Bartels was a dedicated man who gave so much of himself to the advancement of the disability community. Joanne Bartels-Stanway, daughter of Elmer Bartels, spoke at the dedication of how everyday her father looked forward to going to MRC; he did not see his role as “work” but rather him just doing the right thing. This was a theme he carried with him throughout life, it did not matter if he was meeting with policy-makers, MRC staff, consumers, or the Average Joe — Bartels charged them all to “Go Do Good Things.”

One would wonder if these words echoed in the ears of the policy-makers while they were passing budgets and legislation during former Commissioner Bartels’ tenure, because Bartels made so many inroads for people with disabilities here in Massachusetts that the Commonwealth is now a leader in the Disability Movement.

An innovator, he established MRC as a premier public vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency, while also having the foresight of developing an Independent Living program in the mid- 1980’s long before any other VR agency.

Eric Neudel introduces a 10 minute film he produced with Alison Gilkey on Commissioner Bartels and his life and legacy.

Eric Neudel introduces a 10 minute film he produced with Alison Gilkey on Commissioner Bartels and his life and legacy.

Bartels also charged his staff and community advocates with the notion of doing good things. Ready to meet people where they were in life, he valued the times he had with people in the hallways, in the coffee shops, and on the streets.

Commissioner Bartels enduring legacy will live on through this room and in his spirit as captured in a short video Eric Neudel, of Storyline Motion Pictures, provided the agency and thus inspiring the next generation of MRC employees and disability advocates to become great leaders and “Go Do Good Things.”

Written By:


Communications Director, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

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