Mike Bjerkesett, Leader in Handicap Accessible Housing, Dies at 69 – NMP Skip to main content

Mike Bjerkesett, Leader in Handicap Accessible Housing, Dies at 69

Phil Hall
Feb 03, 2017
Dale L. Dykema, the Founder and longtime Chief Executive of Orange, Calif.-based T.D. Service Financial, passed away on July 4 at the age of 87 following a battle with prostate cancer

Mike Bjerkesett, a pioneering figure in making housing accessible to people with physical disabilities, died at the age of 69Mike Bjerkesett, a pioneering figure in making housing accessible to people with physical disabilities, died at the age of 69.
 
According to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune report, Bjerkesett took his own life on Jan. 18, although family and friends saw no evidence of behavior that would lead him to that fate. His sister Marlene Jezierski said that his final e-mail to her consisted of the message: “I love you all. Thank you for bringing so much fun into my life. It’s time.”
 
Bjerkesett was a high school athlete and was attending Bemidji State University when he was involved in a car crash in 1967 that left him as a paraplegic. He completed his education at Southwest Minnesota State University and worked as a rehabilitation counselor at North Memorial Medical Center before creating the non-profit United Handicapped Federation in 1974.
 
In 1975, Bjerkesett founded the National Handicap Housing Institute, with the mission of developing accessible housing for the disabled. The non-profit built more than 15,000 affordable accessible housing units across the nation, and Bjerkesett served as the organization’s executive director until his retirement in 2014. He then created another non-profit, Accessible Architecture Inc., which offers free accessibility designs and resources online.
 
“I’ve spent so much time on these issues over the years, it’s important to share and pass on information to others,” he said in a 2014 interview.
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