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Letter: Dale Vitalis will also be remembered as an advocate for those with autism

Another elderly man died this past week in Fargo. That's probably not news, except that Dale Vitalis was an exceptional man. Dale was a loving husband and father, and a beloved pastor.

Dale was also a die-hard advocate.

I met Dale and his wife, Lu, at Mount Carmel Lutheran Camp in Alexandria 20 years ago. My wife and I had just learned that our son, Joe, was autistic, and I was pretty fragile. Dale and Lu approached me to say that they knew just what we were experiencing because their son, Stephen, was autistic.

I could hardly believe it. Stephen graduated magna cum laude from Concordia with degrees in math and music, drove a car and lived independently. Stephen's accomplishments were the result of very high intelligence and very committed parents.

Years later, when Dale learned that we had founded MindShift, a nonprofit staffing company harnessing the unique skills of people like Stephen, he asked if we had plans to work in Fargo. I told him we needed local support, and Dale used his extensive local influence to line up a meeting with Microsoft.

Today there are 20 specialists working at several Fargo companies, providing their unique skills and talents to the community, and we've expanded to Minneapolis and Milwaukee. We are grateful to Dale and his example. God bless his memory.

Hanson is the founder and chairman of MindShift.