With great sadness we heard that our colleague and friend Gunnar Fagerberg passed away on the 4th of October. Gunnar has been an active member of the Assistive Technology community in Europe for many years. Probably his most prominent and eye catching contribution was the HEART study that he led together with his colleague Thomas Lagerwall. This study has had a very significant impact on the AT field in Europe and beyond, and many of us still make use of or refer to some of the findings from that study. But there was more: he was a very visible staff member of the Swedish Handicap Institute, he was involved in several European projects, he was a co-founder and one of the first presidents of our Association, and he played a very positive role for the field in the years he served as a scientific officer at the European Commission. But most of all, he was a great colleague and friend to many in the AT community.

The board of AAATE is deeply grateful for everything Gunnar has done for the AT field in Europe and beyond and wishes his family and friends all the strength and positivity they need to cope with this great loss.

The AAATE board

Below are a few reactions to his death from colleagues who knew him well.

I am very sad to hear that Gunnar has left us. I have always thought of him as a gentle wise soul among us. It is so sad that we did not get a chance to say goodbye and thank you. Greg van der Heiden, professor at University of Maryland, USA. 

We at ISAAC are saddened to hear that Gunnar Fagerberg has passed away.

Heather Stonehouse, manager of communications, ISAAC

Gunnar was a very optimistic and very knowledgeable person, spending most of his professional career promoting assistive technology solutions. At the end of the nineties has was active in the well knows Swedisch Handicap Institute, later he became project officer at the European Commission and heavily involved in promoting Design for All projects. Jan Engelen, professor emeritus, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium.

Gunnar was a good friend, a man of feeling and a man of worth. I had an opportunity to work with him in a big research project MonAMI, and spend good time during our common gourmet adventures in several cities, together with other colleagues and friends. We will miss you Gunnar, and remember for ever. Dusan Simsik, Technical University of Kosice, Slovakia

I remember Gunnar first as one of those persons whose professional side cannot be separated from the human side. Working with him was both a great professional experience and a nice moment of friendship. We had some common passions such as singing, climbing, skying, and when we happened to do it together we had great fun. Gunnar was very passionate about the importance of AT advancement, and did a great job for that in the years he worked at the European Commission. Dear Gunnar, it was a privilege to work with you. We’ll miss you, and thank you for all you have done in our field. Renzo Andrich.

Gunnar was one of the founding member of AAATE but I will always remember him for his warm smile and great humour. An Irish blessing which I think is very suitable for my colleague and mentor for many years: “May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And my you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead”. Gerald Craddock, National Disability Authority, Ireland.

Gunnar was a very good friend. I’ve worked with him since 1976. He was responsible for a Swedish-Portuguese agreement in Special Education, but of course knew him from many other activities in ISAAC, AAATE, European project, and as a friend in the field. I am truly sad. Luis Azevedo, Portugal.

Gunnar was a highly respected professional, a visionaire for AT development, a good friend, a wonderful singer and skilled cross-country ski sportsman. He has inspired the European field of AT and beyond in many ways. We are very thankful for his guidance, his cooperative steering and his friendly facing attitude as a person. We will deeply miss Gunnar and keep him in appreciating memory….. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Christian Buehler, professor at Technical University Dortmund, Germany.