In Memoriam: Vern L. Bengtson

Vern L. Bengtson

NCFR Fellow Vern L. Bengtson, Ph.D., died on Nov. 8, 2019, at age 78. He was a member of NCFR for 55 years. 

Dr. Bengtson was a social psychologist known for his work on intergenerational relations. He taught at the University of Southern California (USC) for over 40 years, and served in the roles of the AARP University chair in gerontology; professor of sociology; research professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work; and as senior scientist with the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.

Dr. Bengtson was the author of more than 260 articles and 19 books on gerontology, theories of aging, sociology of aging, and family sociology. His most recent book, Families and Faith: How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations, surveyed the religious beliefs and spirituality of multiple generations of more than 350 families.

Dr. Bengtson was a past president of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and has twice been granted MERIT awards for his research from the National Institute on Aging. In his career at USC, he has been principal investigator of research and training grants that totaled $26 million, most of which were from the National Institutes of Health. Early in his career, Dr. Bengtson originated the Longitudinal Study of Generations, a multi-disciplinary investigation of families, aging, and social change that followed up to four successive generations of California families for nearly 50 years.

Dr. Bengtson has received many honors for his research contributions including the Reuben Hill Award (twice) and Ernest W. Burgess Award from NCFR; the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Sociological Association’s section on aging; and the Robert W. Kleemeier Award and Distinguished Mentor Award from GSA.

At NCFR, Dr. Bengtson served as chair of the Research and Theory Section; was a member of the Fellows Committee; and was a frequent author in Journal of Marriage and Family. He was conferred NCFR Fellow status in 1998. 

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2019, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, California. Read full obituary.

A eulogy for Dr. Bengtson will be given at the 2020 NCFR Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, as part of the memorial service held at each annual conference.

During this service, the names of any NCFR members who have recently died are read aloud. Members who have served as an NCFR board member, journal editor, or are conferred NCFR Fellow status are given a eulogy.

If you learn of an NCFR member who has passed away, please email Trip Sullivan.