Dr. Ebert F. "Bert" Cicenia passed away on the evening of September 5, 2012 in Hawaii. He was 95.
The Dorchester County, SC, resident was a military veteran, an innovator in the field of rehabilitation, a spokesperson and advocate for the disabled, a political activist, and a community patriarch.
Born June 9, 1917 in New York, Dr. Cicenia first came to South Carolina in 1964 to create Ladson's Coastal Center, a residential facility for mentally disabled children. Cicenia graduated from Rutgers in 1941 with a bachelor's in education, then received his master's in corrective physical education in 1948 from Columbia Univ. He received his doctorate from Columbia in 1951, with specialties in special education, physical therapy, medical rehabilitation and psychology. Opening in 1968 with Cicenia as its superintendent, Coastal Center became the first full-sized facility in the US to be accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals. In honor of his years of service to the facility, in 1981 its main office was named the Ebert F. Cicenia Administration Building. He retired as regional commissioner of the state's Dept. of Disability and Special Needs in 1989. Continuing to address community needs after retiring, he was chairman of Elderlink, a board member of South Carolina's Special Olympics, a member of the state committee on Alzheimer's Disease, a board member of the Summerville YMCA, a member of the local Rotary Club, and was on the advisory council of Dorchester County Social Services. In 1997 he helped create Children in Crisis, an advocacy center to address the needs of abused children. Since 2003, the organization has commended others in the community for relevant service with its annual Bert Cicenia Award. Achieving the rank of Lt. Commander in the US Navy, Cicenia was an active member of Charleston's Military Officer Association of America. Dr. Cicenia was also very active in the local political community. In 1992, he was Democratic candidate for State House Dist. 94, and regularly participated with and contributed to the Dorchester County Democratic Party, which his late wife Alice once served as chairperson. He remained active with the county party for many years, and was even a state delegate from Dorchester County as late as 2010.
Cicenia had only travelled to Hawaii days ago to visit his nephew, according to his family, but needed immediate medical attention. He suffered a stroke while receiving hospital care.
Alice Joan Delaney Cicenia
LCDR US Navy, World War II / Service Above Self Reunited My Loving Alice
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