Jerry Hassell

Advocate and mentor

Jerry Hassell was a legendary “tireless advocate” for Deaf rights. Alumnus of Texas School for the Deaf (1946) and Gallaudet College (1951; earned Master’s in Educational Psychology from University of Texas in 1959. He taught at Texas School for the Deaf for 30 years, and for 50 years was a beloved Sunday School teacher at Congress Avenue Baptist Church’s Deaf congregation, noted for his memorable storytelling. Served several terms as TAD President; a skilled editor and contributor to Deaf publications. He was the first deaf instructor hired by University of Texas, and inspired many hearing students in his sign-language classes to choose careers in professional interpreting. A skilled lobbyist, he earned the respect of state legislators and leaders, and helped pass nearly a dozen bills, gaining better services and more opportunities for Deaf Texans: Relay Texas, interpreters, jobs, and education. He was proud of his Indian heritage—he was one-eighth Chickasaw—and, in 1994, co-founded the Intertribal Deaf Council; he was later made an honorary Elder. He was also a devoted husband to his Deaf wife, Dovie (McGaugh) and two haring daughters, Sandra and Sharon, both of whom chose Deaf Community-related careers.

Photo courtesy of David Pierce

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