Thursday, October 21, 2010

Keeping the Flame Burning!

As we enter the sixth decade of advocating for disability rights, many of our comrades in arms have fallen. This web log is a memorial to all those that have come before us - and as time and history overtakes us all -will keep the memories alive.
You are invited to add your personal memories by using the comments. You may post without registering by selecting anonymous - and place your name, if desired - in the text block. We have been hit with spamming, please send comments to with information on where you want your comments placed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paul Steven Miller 1961 - 2010

Paul S. Miller, Advocate for Disabled, Dies at 49

Paul Miller, a lawyer who was born with achondroplasia — dwarfism — overcame discrimination because of his disability and became a leader in the disability rights movement, died Tuesday at his home on Mercer Island, Wash. He was 49.

The cause was cancer, said his wife, Jennifer.

More than 40 times after graduating from Harvard Law School, Mr. Miller received rejection letters from law firms. One time, he said, he was told the firm feared that clients would see his hiring as a “circus freak show.”

But Mr. Miller went on to become an adviser to two presidents — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — a law professor and an expert on the intersection of disability law, employment discrimination and genetic science.

A professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, Mr. Miller was director of the university’s disabilities studies program. For 10 years before joining the faculty in 2004, he was a commissioner of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At the same time, he was the Clinton administration’s liaison to disability organizations, a role he reprised in the first nine months of the Obama presidency.

Andrew J. Imparato, president of the American Association of People With Disabilities, said of Mr. Miller, “He was the person in the White House who recruited folks with disabilities to take positions all over those administrations — assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries, commissioners.”

Drew Hansen, an adjunct lecturer who taught with Mr. Miller, said his colleague had long been concerned about the carrying out of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. “He believed that judicial interpretations of the A.D.A. were more restrictive than they had been of civil rights laws because there was not a similarly visible mass social movement,” Mr. Hansen said.

In recent years, Mr. Miller focused on tensions between disability rights and genetic science. In a paper titled “Avoiding Genetic Genocide,” Mr. Miller criticized scientists for what he saw as their eagerness to use genetics to produce “perfect” humans.

“Good health is not the absence of a disability,” he wrote. “Scientists caught up in the excitement of genetic discovery can forget that life with a disability can still be a rich and fulfilling life.”

Calling him “a powerful warrior in the battle,” Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and leader of the Human Genome Project, referred Wednesday to a paper Mr. Miller wrote, “Is There a Pink Slip in Your Genes?”

Its purpose was “to bring attention to the risk of individuals losing their jobs if information about their future health risks were disclosed,” Dr. Collins said. “And the persistence paid off: after more than a decade of frustration, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was finally signed into law in 2008. Paul was one of its biggest heroes.”

Paul Steven Miller was born in Flushing, Queens, on May 4, 1961, and grew up in East Northport on Long Island. His father, Stanley, was a textile engineer; his mother, Barbara, a school psychologist.

Mr. Miller graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and received his law degree from Harvard three years later. He then began his difficult job search. He was eventually hired by a Los Angeles law firm, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. By 1990, he was director of litigation for the disability rights law center at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. That led to his position in the Clinton administration.

In 1997, he married Jennifer Coletti Mechem, who at the time was disability policy coordinator at the Department of Education; Ms. Mechem is hearing impaired.

Besides his wife, Mr. Miller is survived by two daughters, Naomi and Delia; two sisters, Marjorie Piquiera and Nancy Miller; a stepsister, Susan Wolfert, and a stepbrother, Marc Freyberg.

When the University of Washington named Mr. Miller its Henry M. Jackson professor of law in 2008, his colleague Anna Mastroianni spoke at the ceremony. “Paul Miller may have been born a dwarf, but in reality he is a giant,” she said. “We are all better for seeing a little further from the perch of his shoulders.”

Monday, August 09, 2010

Paul K. Longmore 1946 - 2010

Paul K. Longmore dies at 64; leading disability scholar and activist

Unable to use his hands because of a childhood bout with polio, he helped establish disability studies as a field of academic research and teaching.

By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times

August 15, 2010

Unable to use his hands because of a childhood bout with polio, Paul K. Longmore wrote his first book by punching a keyboard with a pen he held in his mouth. It took him 10 years, and when he was done, he burned a copy in front of the Federal Building downtown.

By taking a match to "The Invention of George Washington" in 1988, the scholar brought national attention to a campaign to reform Social Security policies that discourage disabled professionals from working.

Some of the most restrictive penalties were soon lifted — including one preventing him from earning royalties on books — in a policy change that became known as the Longmore Amendment.

Longmore, a leading disability scholar and activist who taught at San Francisco State, died Aug. 9 of natural causes at his San Francisco home, said his sister, Ellen Brown. He was 64.

"He devoted his life to making this a better and more just world," Robert A. Corrigan, the university's president, said in a statement. "Legendary, inspirational, pioneering, irreverent … many words are needed to sum up this remarkable man."

As a major founder of disability studies, Longmore helped establish it as a field of academic research and teaching.

In 1996, he helped start San Francisco State's Institute for Disability Studies and was its director. Longmore worked to bring the discipline to other college campuses and provided leadership at disability rights rallies across the state and nation.

He also wrote some of the first academic and historical articles about how disabled people have been depicted in popular culture.

In his 2003 book, "Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability," he challenged popular views of assisted suicide, which he had campaigned against legalizing in California, and highlighted the relatively unknown history of the disability rights movement during the Depression.

Last month, Longmore spoke at a San Francisco celebration of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act and reminded the crowd of a perspective he had long espoused: Disability rights activists had brought about change by redefining what it means to be disabled.

The movement recast "disability" as "a problem located mainly out there in society" that had to be dealt with, Longmore had said, whether it meant improving access by placing wheelchair-accessible ramps on curbs or elevators in buildings.

Stephen Rosenbaum, a staff attorney for the advocacy group Disability Rights California, said in a statement: "I once heard Paul introduced as the ' James Dean' of disability studies. That captures the combination of intellectual, rebel and down-to-earth man he was."

Paul Kenneth Longmore was born July 10, 1946, in Mount Holly, N.J., to Kenneth and Evelyn Longmore. His family moved up and down the West Coast for his father's career as a Baptist minister.

At 7, Longmore came down with polio, which paralyzed his arms and severely curved his spine. He used a ventilator for as long as 18 hours a day.

He attended special-education classes in elementary school, but his parents and teacher successfully pushed for him to attend his local junior high.

Before sending him off, his teacher told him: " 'You have to succeed. If you don't, they won't let others in. You're a pioneer.' And I've never forgotten that. Every school and every job, I've always been the first with a major disability," Longmore said in a 1991 news release from Stanford University, where he once taught.

Longmore studied history at Occidental College, earning a bachelor's degree in 1968 and later a master's.

While studying history at Claremont Graduate University, Longmore audited a USC class on policy-making about disability and helped develop a program on disability and society.

The experience made him realize he could apply his training as a historian to the study of disability history, Longmore later said.

In college, he was repeatedly discouraged from teaching because of his disability and had trouble getting financial help, he later said. Eventually, a member of the state Legislature helped Longmore secure funding for a Dictaphone and a transcriptionist.

"The quality of my work improved, and I said to myself, 'Well, you're not lazy. You just didn't have the means to do it,'" he told the Washington Post in 1991. It was an epiphany that shaped his perspective as a disability rights activist.

"I relocated the problem from me to outside of me, which is part of the transition any member of a minority group has to go through," he said.

After earning his doctorate in 1984, Longmore taught at USC and delved into advocacy for the disabled. In 1990, he went to Stanford on a two-year fellowship and in 1993 joined San Francisco State.

"When I was growing up, I was the only visible disabled person I saw," Longmore told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005. "Now you see disabled people all around. … People with disabilities ought to be able to participate in society, and we did that. We changed American values."

Longmore, who was divorced, is survived by his sister.,0,1553457.story

Saturday, July 24, 2010

John Callahan 1951 - 2010

John Callahan, Cartoonist, Dies at 59


Published: July 28, 2010

John Callahan, a quadriplegic, alcoholic cartoonist whose work in newspapers and magazines made irreverent, impolitic sport of people with disabilities and diseases and those who would pity and condescend to them, died on Saturday in Portland, Ore. He was 59 and lived in Portland.

The causes were complications of quadriplegia and respiratory problems, his brother Tom said.

Like his friend Gary Larson, creator of “The Far Side,” Mr. Callahan made drawings with a gleeful appreciation of the macabre that he found in everyday life. He was, however, a man who lived his life with disadvantages, some of them self-wrought, and he viewed the world through a dark and wicked lens.

“This is John, I’m a little too depressed to take your call today,” the message on his answering machine said. “Please leave your message at the gunshot.”

Looking askance at the culture of confession and self-help fostered by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Geraldo Rivera, he was not inclined in his work to be outwardly sympathetic to the afflicted or to respect the boundaries of racial and ethnic stereotyping. His cartoons were often polarizing: some found them outrageously funny, others outrageously offensive.

There was the drawing of a restaurant, the Anorexic Cafe, with a sign in the window saying, “Now Closed 24 Hours a Day.” There was one showing a group of confused-looking square dancers unable to respond to the caller’s instruction to “return to the girl that you just left,” with a headline reading, “The Alzheimer Hoedown.”

There was the drawing of a blind black man begging in the street, wearing a sign that read: “Please help me. I am blind and black, but not musical.” In another, a sheriff’s posse on horseback surrounds an empty wheelchair. The caption gave him the title of his 1990 autobiography: “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”

And there was the drawing of an aerobics class for quadriplegics, with the instructor saying, “O.K., let’s get those eyeballs moving.”

At the peak of its popularity, about a decade ago, Mr. Callahan’s syndicated work appeared in more than 200 newspapers around the world, and many of them got used to receiving letters of objection.

When a car accident in 1972 severed his spine, Mr. Callahan was already an alcoholic, having been a heavy drinker from the age of 12. He wasn’t driving, but the driver, whom he barely knew, was drunk when he smashed Mr. Callahan’s Volkswagen into a utility pole at 90 miles per hour. He was paralyzed from the diaphragm down and lost the use of many of his upper-body muscles, though he could extend his fingers and eventually, after therapy, hold a pen in his right hand. To draw, he guided his right hand slowly across a page with his left, producing rudimentary, even childlike images.

Mr. Callahan often defended his work with a shrug, saying simply that he thought it was funny, but he also said that people who were genuinely afflicted tended to be his fans.

“My only compass for whether I’ve gone too far is the reaction I get from people in wheelchairs, or with hooks for hands,” he said in an interview in The New York Times Magazine in 1992. “Like me, they are fed up with people who presume to speak for the disabled. All the pity and the patronizing. That’s what is truly detestable.”

Mr. Callahan was born on Feb. 5, 1951; information about his biological parents was unavailable. As an infant he was adopted from an orphanage in Portland by David Callahan, an elevator manager for Cargill, the grain company, and his wife, Rosemary. They named him John Michael Callahan and subsequently had five more children.

Mr. Callahan grew up in the Dalles, the Columbia River city about 80 miles east of Portland; went to Roman Catholic school, where he grew deft at drawing caricatures of the nuns; graduated from a local high school; and went to work as an orderly at a state mental hospital and then in an aluminum plant. He described his young adulthood mostly as aimless days of work in between bouts of drinking. A friend, Kevin Mullane, said in an interview that the drinking came closer to killing him than the accident did.

“Ironically, the crash may have saved his life,” Mr. Mullane said.

Actually, Mr. Callahan continued to drink for several years until he joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1978. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University and at his death was enrolled in its master’s program in counseling.

Mr. Callahan’s cartoons are collected in a number of volumes, including “What Kind of a God Would Allow a Thing Like This to Happen?!!” and “Do What He Says!: He’s Crazy!!!” He also wrote a second autobiography, “Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up?” His work was adapted for two animated television series: “Pelswick,” a family-appropriate show about a boy in a wheelchair determined to live a normal life, and “John Callahan’s Quads,” an adult show featuring a menagerie of characters with different disabilities, foul mouths and bad attitudes.

In addition to his brother Tom, Mr. Callahan is survived by his mother, Rosemary; two other brothers, Kevin, known as Kip, and Richard; and two sisters, Mary Callahan, known as Murph, and Teri Duffy. All live in the Portland area.

“Even as a teenager he’d sense things in other people, the way an impersonator would,” Tom Callahan said on Tuesday. “He’d make fun of his friends, his teachers, in cartoons, so I don’t think the accident was really responsible for his humor. I think it allowed him literary license, though, to get away with things he might not otherwise have.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

James Sullivan 1961 - 2010

James Sullivan  1961 - 2010

James Augustine Sullivan of Hudson died on Ash Wednesday Feb. 17, 2010 having faced his most recent challenge of cancer with the same courage, grace and dignity that has characterized his entire life. He passed with friends and family by his side at the Community Hospice House in Merrimack.

Mr. Sullivan was born on June 21, 1961 in Panama City, Florida to Charles and Constance Sullivan.

His young life included stops in Washington, DC and Fairbanks, Alaska before his family settled in Hudson N.H. in 1970. Jim was known in his early years as an exceptional mechanic; he loved to work on cars and motorcycles. He was also a gifted athlete, having particularly excelled as a skier, hurdler, and pole vaulter. He earned Most Valuable Player honors for Track and Field his senior year at Alvirne High School, and he held the school’s pole vault record for over a decade. Mr. Sullivan’s life took a dramatic turn on June 19, 1979, however, as a freak diving accident at Hampton Beach left him a quadriplegic. He met this challenge with incredible resolve. Soon after leaving the hospital, he began to study at the University of Lowell, and he then ventured to Arizona State University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Mr. Sullivan returned to his hometown of Hudson upon graduation in 1987 and began working at Digital Electronics Corporation. Jim soon realized, however, that his true calling was to serve the school district and hometown that he loved so much. He began to volunteer as an assistant track coach at Alvirne, and he also offered invaluable assistance to the vocational, media, computer and music programs at his alma mater. Mr. Sullivan was elected to the Hudson school board, and he ultimately earned a position as the board’s president. Mr. Sullivan was also very much involved in N.H. Independent living and was instrumental in ADA standard implementation throughout the state. The impact Mr. Sullivan has made on his community will continue to be felt for many years to come.

Sullivan’s legacy will live on through his parents, Charles and Constance Sullivan of Hudson N.H.; two sisters, Laura Larson of Manchester N.H. and Teresa Kelly of Fayetteville, Georgia; three brothers, Charles Jr. of Grosse Point Woods, Michigan, Timothy of Derry N.H., and William of Honolulu, Hawaii; fourteen nieces and nephews, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, and countless friends.

Visiting Hours will be held on Mon. Feb. 22nd from 4pm – 8pm in THE DUMONT-SULLIVAN FUNERAL HOME, 50 FERRY ST. IN HUDSON. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tues. Feb. 23rd at 10am in St. Kathryn’s Church, 4 Dracut Rd., in Hudson. All May Meet At Church. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery in Hudson. In lieu of flowers the family encourages donations be made in James’ loving memory to the James Sullivan Scholarship Fund c/o Citizens Bank, 71 Lowell Rd., Hudson, NH 03051. To send an online message of condolence or directions please visit A Remembrance Video will be made available for online viewing following Monday’s visitation. THE DUMONT-SULLIVAN FUNERAL HOME IN HUDSON IS IN CHARGE OF ARRANGEMENTS.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Margaret Ann Merrick Scheffelin 1928 - 2009

SCHEFFELIN, Margaret Ann Merrick

Passed away on June 15, 2009, after a valiant two-year battle with cancer, surrounded by her family. Margaret was born on April 12, 1928, in Oskaloosa, Iowa. She grew up in Western Springs, Illinois, and was the 111th Quiz Kid, making 45 radio appearances between 1942 and 1944. Margaret married Edward (Scheff) Joseph Scheffelin on August 16, 1947, in LaGrange, Illinois.

Margaret earned her PhD from the University of Illinois in 1964 and worked as a Consultant with the California State Department of Education from 1969 to 1990. In 1980, as a Fulbright Scholar, she studied the employability of deaf-blind adults in West Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, she completed a longitudinal study on the effects of changes in philosophy and education in the former East Germany. She served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Armed Services (DACOWITS) making more than 150 base visits between 1982 and 1984.

Margaret was a role model, teacher, and a brilliant researcher and analyst. She overcame great physical obstacles by never giving up. She had a quiet inner strength. She fought for the rights of all, particularly the disabled. She not only balanced family and career, but also achieved a great deal in an era where women were not encouraged to do so. She was well loved and will be greatly missed.

Margaret is survived by her husband of 62 years, Scheff; her eight children, Susan, Catherine, Andrea, Marianna, Joseph, Thomas, Julia, and Paul; thirteen grandchildren, Elke, Till, Robb, Michelle, Timothy, Joanna, Joshua, Daniel, Richard, Matthew, Keiko, Christopher, and Alexander; two great-grandchildren, Simon and David. She has two brothers, Phil and John, and had a sister, Susan.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Martha Mason 1937 - 2009

Martha Mason
LATTIMORE - Ms. Martha Mason, who lived at 204 Oak Drive in Lattimore, died shortly after dawn on Monday, May 4, 2009, one month shy of her 72nd birthday.

Stricken with polio in the epidemic of 1948, she had lived 61 years in an iron lung, longer than any other polio survivor in the world.
Following a year of hospitalization after she was stricken, she returned to her parents' home. Her doctors told her and her parents that she could not possibly live a year, if that long. The late C.C. Padgett, principal of the Lattimore Schools, organized a home schooling program for her. She graduated from Lattimore High School in 1956, first in her class. She graduated from Gardner-Webb College (now Gardner-Webb University) in 1958, first in her class. In 1960, she graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University, first in the first class to graduate from the University's Winston-Salem campus. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Her book, "Breath: Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung", was published to critical acclaim in 2003. In September of that year, Wake Forest University honored her with its Pro Humanitate Award. The following year, Gardner-Webb University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. She was a member of Shelby Rotary Club and had been awarded its Paul Harris Fellowship.
She is survived by two longtime and devoted caregivers, Ginger Justice and Melissa Boheler.
Memorial Service: Wednesday, May 6, 3 p.m., Lattimore Baptist Church, where she was a lifelong member
Visitation: Friends will be greeted in the fellowship hall of the church, one hour before the service.
Burial: Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church Cemetery, where she will be laid to rest with her parents, Willard and Euphra Ramsey Mason; and her brother, Gaston Owen Mason, who died of complications from polio the day Martha was stricken in 1948
Memorials: Martha Mason Scholarship Fund, c/o Gardner-Webb University, P.O. Box 997, Boiling Springs, NC 28017; or Lattimore Baptist Church, P.O. Box 188, Lattimore, NC 28089
Funeral home: Cecil M. Burton Funeral Home and Crematory
Online guest registry:


Woman who lived 60 years in iron lung dies
Cassie Tarpley
May 4, 2009 - 10:16AM
LATTIMORE - Cleveland County lost a most unusual world record setter Monday.
Martha Mason had bested polio, a once-pandemic disease, over 85 percent of her lifetime after being told she wouldn't live to her teen years.
One month shy of 72, Mason died early Monday at home in tiny Lattimore, where she had "lived above" her disease flat on her back for more than 61 years.
Mason had always said that she would not let polio beat her. Her life demonstrated that she meant what she said.
She wrote in 2002, "As a youngster, in pre-polio days, I enjoyed sports and considered myself an athlete .... proud of my physical strength ... unusually self-reliant. Suddenly, I was an 11-year-old quadriplegic, I was not strong and I was completely reliant on others .... I would not be a whiner, but what would I be? ..."
What she would be is a person who never met a stranger, someone who overcame any obstacle deterring whatever goal she set and an inspiration whose influence will live on in the world.
Mason became the only person in the Southeastern United States still living in an iron lung and, by all accounts, the world's record holder in the 800-pound yellow machine that forced breath through her lungs every minute of every day and night.
"This is a total shock - I hate it," Shelby banker Bobby Smith said when he learned of Mason's passing. "I'm going to miss knowing that she's there.
"Martha was the kind of person you wanted everyone to meet," said Smith, who met her years ago as governor for Rotary District 7680.
Everywhere he went after that introduction, he told people about her, and just Saturday night, at a Rotary conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C., he had issued an invitation to the incoming district gover-nor to visit.
Since 1985, Smith said, "Rotary International has as its goal the eradication of polio (it has not happened yet; there are still four countries affected - Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Niger)."
Rotary works with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF, he said.
When they met, Smith asked permission to tell her story as he promoted Rotary's goal.
"She told me, ‘As long as it's not about me, but about polio.'"
Mason became an honorary member of Shelby Rotary Club. Members honored her as a Paul Harris Fellow and gave her a medallion on a ribbon that she could wear, but it hung on her wall.
Smith's own medal, much older and heavier, pinned on, he said, and Mason offered hers for him to wear at Rotary functions.
"I was honored. And as I was leaving, she said something I couldn't hear."
Smith stepped closer and got an example of Mason's sense of humor.
"She said, ‘Don't get gravy on it!'"
Mason told an ABC News reporter just before her 71st birthday, "My story's been one of joy, one of wonderful experiences. It has not been perfect. But that's what people need to understand - that I have had a good life."

Martha Mason was 12 and in an Asheville hospital when she was told, "You'll never walk again. You'll never bathe or feed yourself again. You're basically an excellent mind and an exuberant spirit locked in an inert body - a prison. Can you live with that?" "No," began the answer, "but I can live above it."
That dire diagnosis and defiant response came one year after polio invaded her body the same day her beloved, brother, Gaston, who died from polio, was buried.
Across the nearly 60 years since then, Martha Mason's unconquerable spirit has soared to unbelievable heights of achievement from inside the 800-pound iron lung that breathes for her. This amazing woman and her iron lung completed high school and attended Gardner-Webb College. She attended Wake Forest University the same way. She graduated first in her class and earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. Using a voice-activated computer at home in Lattimore, she wrote her memoir, "Breath, Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung."
Martha has said, "I think I was born with supercharged, competitive genes. I always expect to win the gold." Actually, Martha Mason has spun for us all a golden legacy of human will trumping adversity.
Source: 2007 Shelby Mayor's Honors Awards
Gardner-Webb University President Dr. Frank Bonner
"Martha Mason was a wonderful and remarkable woman. Gardner-Webb University is proud that she is an alumna and the entire University family joins in mourning the loss of Martha. She had great courage and strong character and she was the model of perseverance. In the face of challenges and great obstacles, she not only achieved her educational goals but excelled academically. She had a delightful personality and a keen intellect and she was a delight to visit. The life story she wrote in ‘Breath' and the life she lived are a tremendous inspiration to us all and that inspiration will live on."
Pastor Max Burgin, Lattimore Baptist Church
"She had a strong heart for life. Even though she was a prisoner in the iron lung, her faith and knowledge of the Lord were constantly expanding. That iron lung did not contain her."

School and college classes, honors and awards, even her 50th class reunion, Martha Mason took part in them all from the confines of her constant companion, the iron lung. Read more online later today at and in Wednesday's Star.

Martha Mason had always said that she would not let polio get her. And at age 72 when she died early Monday, she had "lived above" her disease flat on her back for more than 61 years.
Mason's life - defined not by polio or the 800-pound machine that forced breath through her lungs during those six decades - demonstrated that she meant what she said.
She wrote in 2002, "As a youngster, in pre-polio days, I enjoyed sports and considered myself an athlete. I was proud of my physi-cal strength. I was also unusually self-reliant. Suddenly, I was an 11-year-old quadriplegic, I was not strong and I was completely reliant on others. I resolved not to force every trumpet to herald my weakness. I would not be a whiner, but what would I be? ..."
What she would be is a person who never met a stranger, someone who overcame whatever obstacle deterring any goal she set and an inspiration whose influence will live on.
Mason became the only person in the Southeast living in an iron lung and, by all accounts, the world's record holder .
"This is a total shock - I hate it," banker Bobby Smith said of Mason's passing. "I'm going to miss knowing that she's there.
"Martha was the kind of person you wanted everyone to meet," said Smith, who met her years ago as governor for Rotary District 7680.
Everywhere he went after that introduction, he told people about her, and just Saturday night, at a Rotary conference in Myrtle Beach, he had issued an invitation to the incoming district governor to visit.
Since 1985, Smith said, "Rotary International has as its goal the eradication of polio (it has not happened yet; there are still four countries affected - Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Niger)."
Rotary works with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF, he said.
Updated 3:35 p.m.

Noel Manning II, Gardner-Webb University

"She did not live like a person whose life was confined. She never met anyone that she did not become friends with immediately. (She) amazed me on so many different levels.
(She) kept up with the world around her through the Internet. More connected than a lot of people with total physical freedom.
She overcame any obstacle she wanted to overcome."
Updated 3:31 p.m.

Dawn Anthony, Gardner-Webb University alumni office

"(She was) so personal and just easy going, wanted to know everything about you and always remembered next time you saw her.
An inspiration and so full of wisdom.
You just walk away inspired by her. She will be highly missed. She touched a lot of people here at GW and will continue to touch through her scholarship."
Updated 11:03 a.m.

Click here for information on how to purchase Mason's memoir "Breath: Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung"

Updated 10:28 a.m.

Exceptional achievers honored at Merry-Go-Round Festival
Thursday, Apr 26 2007, 6:29 pm

Three exception achievers were honored with 2007 Merry-Go-Round honors awards Thursday evening. The following is what is written on the citations for each recipient.

In Recognition Of An Unconquerable Human Spirit

That Soars And Lives Above Its Stable of Nightmares

This year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner was 12 and in an Asheville hospital when she was told, "You'll never walk again. You'll never bathe or feed yourself again. You're basically an excellent mind and an exuberant spirit locked in an inert body-a prison. Can you live with that?" "No," began the answer, "but I can live above it." That dire diagnosis and defiant response came one year after polio invaded her body the same day her beloved, brother, Gaston, who died from polio, was buried. Across the nearly 60 years since then, Martha Mason's unconquerable spirit has soared to unbelievable heights of achievement from inside the 800-pound iron lung that breathes for her. This amazing woman and her iron lung completed high school and attended Gardner-Webb College. She attended Wake Forest University the same way. She graduated first in her class and earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. Using a voice-activated computer at home in Lattimore, she wrote her memoir, Breath, Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung. Martha has said, "I think I was born with supercharged, competitive genes. I always expect to win the gold." Actually, Martha Mason has spun for us all a golden legacy of human will trumping adversity.
Updated 10:25 a.m.

Frank Nanney Hall opens, ready to serve
Thursday, Aug 28 2008, 5:43 pm
Cherish Wilson

BOILING SPRINGS - It started with an iron lung and now Gardner-Webb University's commitment to students with disabilities has a new home and an enduring mission.

Faculty, staff, guests and trustees gathered for the ribbon cutting for Frank Nanney Hall.

This 12,000-square-foot building will be the new home for the Noel Program for Students with Disabilities as well as the social sciences department.

The building consists of classroom space, production labs, testing centers and office space.

The project was made possible by donations including a substantial lead gift from Frank Nanney.

Additional donors include the Dover Foundation, Cannon Foundation, ME Foundation and the Nanney Foundation. Contributions from Mailon and Ella Mae Nichols, Ray and Sara Starnes, and a major anonymous donor were also designated for this new facility.

In the 1950s, Martha Mason attended Gardner-Webb, then a junior college, despite being confined to an iron lung.

Since the 1950s, Gardner-Webb's disability services program has grown into the Noel Program for Students with Disabilities, which provides educational accommodations to more than 100 students. The Noel Program now serves students with limitations ranging from partial to total blindness or deafness, to orthopedic challenges, to social or learning disabilities.

Cheryl Potter, director of the Noel Program, said the university's commitment to serving those students extended well beyond the new walls of Frank Nanney Hall.

"We had a gentleman come to campus during an accreditation process and he told us he traveled around the country to campuses," Potter said. "He said he usually observed that disability services were not well integrated with the campus as a whole, but at Gardner-Webb it didn't take long to see it was different."

The services and accommodations for those with disabilities extends from one end of the campus to the other, the man observed.

"I was extremely proud," Potter said. "That compliment was not for the Noel Program but for the entire university family."

Updated 10:22 a.m.

GWU establishes Martha Mason scholarship
Monday, Jun 9 2008, 9:17 am
Cherish Wilson

BOILING SPRINGS - The Martha Mason Challenge Endowed Scholarship Fund has been established at Gardner-Webb University. Through the efforts of the Classes of 1958 and 1959 the endowment will honor Martha Mason and her commitment to Christian higher education.
The Martha Mason Challenge Endowed Scholarship Fund was founded to provide financial assistance to full-time students attending the university.
Preference will be given to students who are under the assistance of the NOEL Program for the Disabled. The Noel Program assists students with learning disabilities, physical limitations, limited or total blindness or deafness.
"We do not honor Martha because she lives in an iron lung. We honor her for the knowledge and wisdom she has attained and for the tremendous impact she has had and continues to have on her community," states Charles Cornwell, a lifetime friend and editor of her book.
Mason was delighted to see the endowment that will aid students like her.
"I am pleased that my class is doing this for Gardner-Webb. I think that Gardner-Webb has a vision to help a child who may be challenged physically or mentally," she said. "I am very proud of Gardner-Webb and I am very proud of my class."
Martha Mason was Gardner-Webb's first distance learner.
She battled polio as a child and as a result has lived in an iron lung since she was 11 years old. Mason never let the fact that she was limited physically inhibit her ability to learn. While at Gardner-Webb she participated in her class via intercom, which allowed her to talk with her professors and fellow classmates.
She graduated from Gardner-Webb in 1958 at the top of her class. After graduation, she continued her education at Wake Forest University. She also has written a book, "Breath: Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung," the story of her life.
She is currently working on her second book, which will be a collection of short stories. Mason was also the subject of the award-winning documentary, "Martha in Lattimore" by filmmaker Mary Dalton.
The scholarship fund was established with an initial gift from the Classes of 1958 and 1959 as part of their 50-year reunion. The fund is open-ended and classmates, family and friends of Martha Mason may make additional contributions. All donations can be made in the form of cash, stocks, bonds or property and all are tax deductible.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rosalind Wofsy 1920 - 2009

Rosalind Wofsy A pioneer community organizer in support of people with developmental disabilities, born September 5, 1920 died on April 23, 2009. She was 88.
From 1964 through 1984, Rosalind Wofsy was Executive Director of the Developmental Disabilities Council of Contra Costa County. When she retired, she wrote of those years in a memoir, "The Best Years of My Working Life", published by the DD Council of Contra Costa in 1992. This was described by the late Henrik Blum, Professor of Public Health, UC Berkeley, as "superb and human-scale history ... an important piece about the genesis of relevant and humane services for the developmentally disabled". Dr. Blum, who was the chief health officer of Contra Costa County, 1950-1966, wrote of Rosalind Wofsy's key role: "It was by being a perceptive, fair, and conscientious person who believed in the democratic process and the opportunities it offers to citizens to create what they sorely need that she accomplished what she did." For her leadership, she received a California State Citation in 1983. Diana Jorgensen, who succeeded Rosalind as Executive Director of the DD Council, remembered her: "Roz was revered by all those who knew and worked with her for both her unusually gifted skills and her steadfast commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families. She was able to accomplish incredible changes in the field of service to this population because of the strength of beliefs combined with her dynamic personality."
Rosalind was born in Bronx, New York City on September 5, 1920; her parents were Mollie and Chaim Taub. She graduated from Hunter College, NY in 1941. She married Leon Wofsy in 1942 and they have been together until her death. They had two children, Carla Wofsy, who became a Professor Of Mathematics at the University of New Mexico and who died of breast cancer in 2003; and David Wofsy, now Professor Of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. Roz, as she was called, also leaves four grand children, Danielle, Kevin, Susan and Grace; and her brother, Leon Taub. Roz came to the East Bay in 1964 when husband Leon joined the faculty at UC Berkeley, where he is now Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology. Before her position as Executive Director of the DD Council of Contra Costa County, she directed youth and children's programs at Jewish Community Centers in New Haven, Connecticut and San Diego, California. In the 1950s, when Leon was Chair of the left-wing Labor Youth League, the young family faced difficult times of harassment during the McCarthy period. During those years, Roz was the main provider and mainstay of the family and was herself actively engaged in the civil rights movement. Since her retirement, Roz had serious health problems that resulted in gradually increasing physical disability. These difficulties she faced bravely while maintaining the sweetness and hopeful outlook on life for which she is so loved. The great joy of her last year of life was the election of America's first president of color.
A public memorial is scheduled for Sunday, May 10, 2pm, at Bayside Pavilion, 2203 Mariner Square Loop in Alameda. Donations in her memory may be made to the Developmental Disabilities Council of Contra Costa County, Partners in Health, or the Middle East Children's Alliance.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Miya Rodolfo-Sioson 1968 - 2008

December 3, 2008. Miya Rodolfo-Sioson, the lone survivor of a 1991 shooting spree on the University of Iowa campus, died of breast cancer Wednesday. She was 40.

Rodolfo-Sioson died with her brother, Renato, at her side at Alameda County Medical Center-Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., at 10:45 a.m., hospital spokeswoman Andrea Breaux said.

The hospital was treating Rodolfo-Sioson for stage four breast cancer -- the most serious stage, in which cancer has spread to another organ of the body.

In a statement released by the hospital, her family said, “The family appreciates all of the support they have received from their many friends from around the country and especially the members of the disabled community.”

Rodolfo-Sioson was paralyzed from the neck down when she was shot on Nov. 1, 1991, by disgruntled UI doctoral graduate Gang Lu in an infamous campus murder-suicide spree that attracted national attention. She was one of six people Lu shot that day and the only one who survived. Lu also shot and killed himself.

Rodolfo-Sioson was 23 and an undergraduate at the time, majoring in global studies and working in Jessup Hall, where she was shot.

In a statement, the UI said officials were deeply saddened to learn of Rodolfo-Sioson’s death.

“She was a remarkable woman who inspired everyone she met,” the statement said. “Despite her serious injuries, she courageously dedicated her life to the service of others. We express our heartfelt sympathy and support to her family and friends.”

Rodolfo-Sioson moved to Berkeley, Calif., in 1996 with Renato after tiring of Iowa’s cold winters, she told The Gazette in 2001. Her mother already lived in Berkeley.

She became an advocate on behalf of the disabled and served as chairwoman of the city’s Commission on Disability. But she rarely brought up the shooting and sometimes even told people her injuries resulted from a car accident.

“Most people here don’t know about the shooting, so I don’t tell them,” she told The Gazette.

Dmitri Belser, who served on the Commission on Disability with her, had heard the car accident story. He didn’t know of the campus shooting until a Gazette reporter told him Wednesday. “How she became disabled probably wasn’t very important to her,” Belser said. “What was important to her was how she lived her life.”

Rodolfo-Sioson apparently carried that philosophy with her as her health declined. Last month, she told KGO-TV in San Francisco: “To me this event (the shooting) is like ancient history. There’s so much that’s happened since then.”
NOTE: This article was originally published in The Gazette Oct. 28, 2001.

Miya Rodolfo-Sioson sometimes tells people she was in a car accident.

It's not that it's too painful to recall how a bullet fired into her mouth on Nov. 1, 1991, left her paralyzed from the neck down. It's just that she's too busy to tell yet another person the story of Gang Lu, a University of Iowa doctoral graduate in physics, who shot her and five others.

"Most people here don't know about the shooting, so I don't tell them," Rodolfo-Sioson, 33, says from a large room on the third floor of a hospital clinic near her Berkeley home.

She is lying on a padded table, waiting for Paul Trudeau, a seating and mobility clinician from Stanford University, to return with new armrests for her wheelchair.

Trudeau already has positioned a newly padded seat on the wheelchair Rodolfo-Sioson uses. Once the armrests are in place, he wants her to test the fit.

Rodolfo-Sioson's attendant, Kelly Kolberg, lifts the tiny woman into the chair and positions her legs and arms in the right direction.

While Rodolfo-Sioson can't feel any awkward angles, she will know it later when her neck gets sore.

A decade has passed since Gang Lu's massacre on the UI campus changed the lives of many in the UI community, including Rodolfo-Sioson, who was an undergraduate student at the time.

Since the attack, Rodolfo-Sioson not only has learned to function with her disability, but has dealt with the after-effects, such as working with insurance companies to pay for her expensive, full-time care and special equipment.

The bright young woman does not often dwell on the events of Nov. 1, 1991. But she shared some of her time with The Gazette as a way to commemorate the day that altered her life forever.

The little things
This warm September day is pretty normal for Rodolfo-Sioson. Kolberg, 29, a student at John F. Kennedy University in nearby Orinda, arrives at 8 a.m. to start Rodolfo-Sioson's
range-of-motion exercises, the only physical therapy Rodolfo-Sioson has maintained since being paralyzed.

Kolberg dresses Rodolfo-Sioson, carefully threading her limbs through the clothing. She layers a tank top, fleece pullover and scarf on Rodolfo-Sioson's top half and shorts and blanket on her lower half.

Dressing warmly is one way Rodolfo-Sioson guards against chills that she often feels, despite her paralysis.

Rodolfo-Sioson takes other precautions to avoid injury to the parts of her body she can't feel. She wears gloves to protect her hands from sunburn and has one of her attendants turn her in the middle of the night so she doesn't get pressure sores.

Rodolfo-Sioson directs Kolberg with verbal commands. "Find my black headband. The lacy one," she says.

Kolberg digs the band out of a drawer. She combs Rodolfo-Sioson's long, shiny black hair into a low ponytail before smoothing back loose hairs with the headband.

Rodolfo-Sioson scans her face in a mirror placed on a desk attached to her wheelchair. She asks Kolberg to cover a scar on her upper chest.

That is where doctors at University Hospitals in Iowa City performed a tracheotomy to put Rodolfo-Sioson on a respirator after her breathing was disrupted by the bullet that penetrated her lower lip and floor of her mouth before lodging in her vertebrae.

"I was lucky my injury was low enough that I didn't have to stay on the respirator," she says.

The realization hits: paralyzed for life
In the months following the shooting, surgeons repaired Rodolfo-Sioson's lip, implanted false teeth and removed the bullet from her neck. But she knew early on that paralysis would be permanent.

"I don't remember if it hit me all at once. I was a little depressed the first year," she says.

This is the first time since being hired in July that Kolberg has heard Rodolfo-Sioson talk about the shootings. Kolberg learned of the events from Rodolfo-Sioson's mother, Sonya.

"Miya doesn't talk about her feelings. She's very cut-and-dried," Kolberg says.

Rodolfo-Sioson's optimism through her recuperation after the shooting has been noted by doctors, UI administrators and friends.

"Some of that is a little bit of a show," she says. After all, there were cameras pointed at Rodolfo-Sioson for years after the tragedy and Rodolfo-Sioson isn't the type who likes pity.

Rodolfo-Sioson says, with a hint of amusement, she knows a major anniversary of the Gang Lu shooting is coming because she gets calls from reporters.

This year, she plans to do something fun on Nov. 1, like go to an All Saints Day party in the Mission District of San Francisco.

A busy lifestyle
When Rodolfo-Sioson returns from the clinic, she talks on the phone with a man named Don about the upcoming meeting of Berkeley's Commission on Disabilities, of which she is the chairwoman.

They discuss the best way to convince the Berkeley City Council not to fund community events that aren't fully accessible to people with disabilities. The latest offender is the Berkeley Free Folk Festival.

"I'm just not comfortable making the decision myself," she tells Don, over the speaker phone.

"You shouldn't have to," Don says.

"I'm going to send your suggestion to a few other people," Rodolfo-Sioson says before using her mouthstick to hang up the phone.

The stick has a rubberized mouthpiece attached to a straight probe. The probe allows her to use head motions to punch the keys on her phone and computer, which she boots up to forward an e-mail from Don to three other commission members.

She surfs the Internet to find out Berkeley's population. After sorting through nearly 100 hits, she finds the 2000 Census data that says 102,724 people live in Berkeley. About 17,000 of those are disabled, she says.

The commission she leads works to ensure that curbs are cut for wheelchair use and that sidewalks are free from tables or signs.

One of the commission's most rewarding projects, Rodolfo-Sioson says, is advising a non-profit developer on how to create apartments for people with disabilities. This developer is building larger apartments so people who have disabilities have
more dwelling options.

"They run into a lot of opposition from people who don't want more traffic and density," she says of the non-profits. "Maybe it's just a thing in the big city."

Life at home
For a couple of hours in the afternoon, Rodolfo-Sioson functions fine without an attendant while Kolberg goes to the grocery store.

Suddenly she yells for her brother, Renato, who is a part-time attendant and housemate, to heat up some water and find her something to eat in the refrigerator.

Rodolfo-Sioson has five attendants, including Renato, and their mother, Sonya. Miya, Renato and Sonya Rodolfo-Sioson live together in a ranch-style house that has been equipped with a ramp on the front and a wheelchair lift to a back deck.

Rodolfo-Sioson's corner of the house is a sunny room with wood floors. She recently had a carpenter knock out part of her south wall to create a three-panel window and a place for her computer.

She also has a large bathroom with a whirlpool tub, about which her friends tease her because she's not yet used it.

Iowa City and its chilly winters lost their appeal for Rodolfo-Sioson in 1996. That's when she and Renato moved to Berkeley, the famously liberal college town, where their mother was already living.

"It's so expensive to live here, but there really are progressive politicians," Rodolfo-Sioson says.

"There's a lot of diversity, which is nice. It was a little alienating growing up in such a white environment."

Rodolfo-Sioson's family moved from the Philippines to Ames in 1969, when her father got a job teaching mathematics at Iowa State University.

Her father died shortly after they came to Iowa.

Grinnell College was Rodolfo-Sioson's first choice for college, but she decided on UI because it was more affordable, she says.

While at UI, Rodolfo-Sioson majored in global studies and got hooked on efforts to bring peace to Central America. She visited Guatemala in 1988, Nicaragua in 1989 and El Salvador in 1991, just months before the shooting.

Rodolfo-Sioson has vague memories of that blustery day in November 1991.

She remembers Gang Lu coming into the office of T. Anne Cleary, the associate vice president for academic affairs, in Jessup Hall.

"He seemed a little bit nervous. Who knows what he had going on in his head," she says.

After shooting Cleary, Lu pumped a bullet into Rodolfo-Sioson. She was the only person shot that day who did not know Lu and who had nothing to do with his frustrations with the university.

She was also the only person who lived.

10 years after
Rodolfo-Sioson's upbeat attitude through her recuperation inspired the campus. For a decade, she hasn't dwelled on her injury and, instead, uses her position to promote causes she supports.

If Rodolfo-Sioson is bitter, she hides it well. She says she has common human feelings of wanting to do more with her life, wanting to reach new goals, but those feelings don't seem to come from anger about the shooting.

"I get frustrated with myself because I feel like I should have a career right now," she says.

Rodolfo-Sioson thinks about being a full-time adviser for non-profit builders. She also considers counseling. Both would require additional schooling.

"There's a little bit of a limit to what I can do. I have to have an attendant there," she says. She also worries she may not have the interest to get through graduate school or the stamina to keep up with a regular job.

But there are things in life Rodolfo-Sioson is sure about. She knows she wants to put a small greenhouse in a her back yard. She knows she needs to talk slower at commission meetings so everyone can hear. She knows she wants to visit her two other brothers in Austin, Texas.

As the 10-year-anniversary of the Gang Lu shootings comes and goes, Rodolfo-Sioson knows that life will continue and that she's a part of it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ricki Landers 1957 - 2008

Ricki Landers of Salt Lake City Utah was born in Biloxi, Miss., Jan. 24, 1957 died November 14th 2008 of liver failure after spending her entire adult life in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis.
Activist: 'I would rather go to jail than a nursing home.'
Ricki Landers wasn't afraid to get arrested in her campaigns for disability rights.
By Paul Rolly

Salt Lake Tribune
Ricki Landers wouldn't hear of it when an organizer of the "Free Our People March" from Maryland into Washington, D.C., asked only those with powered wheelchairs to continue the last 5 miles.

"John said he would push for me," she said, in case she got tired pushing her manual chair.

It was one of hundreds of protests the tireless activist for disability rights either joined or led, often times resulting in her arrest.

"I would rather go to jail than a nursing home," she proclaimed during a protest at the National Governor's Association in Seattle, Wash., over policies that forced Medicaid recipients into institutions rather than getting care at home.

Landers, in her own words, "graduated" Sunday. She died of liver failure after spending her entire adult life in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis.

"She was on the forefront of arrests," said Barbara Toomer, a fellow activist through Utah's Disabled Rights Community Action Center (DRAC). "It was a badge of honor."

Landers would show up in Chicago to protest the lack of accommodations for wheelchairs at a major sports arena, or in Columbus, Ohio, to protest the policy against home health care.

"We would shut down entire buildings," said Toomer, "by placing our wheelchairs in the entrances of elevators so the doors wouldn't close. We wanted the people to know what it was like to be confined."

A champion for child victims of domestic violence, Landers would collect toys and items for youngsters in shelters, then organize parties when the gifts were delivered, said Janalee Tobias, who met Landers through Women Against Gun Control (WAGC).

"She would hold her homemade sign from her wheelchair at gun-rights rallies that said, "I can't kick a rapist where it counts." She also embroidered in pink a sign that she attached to her wheelchair that said, "Hell on Wheels."

"I've never met a more generous person in my life," said Toomer. "If she had a sweater and someone with her was cold, she would give that person her sweater."

Landers was born in Biloxi, Miss., Jan. 24, 1957. She moved to Utah in the 1970s, where she has been an activist for various causes ever since. She is survived by a son, Chris Andrews, and two sisters, Susie Robinson and Sandra McMillan.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Carrie Gagliardi 1955 - 2008

Carolyn (Carrie) Gagliardi died on Friday, Oct, 31, 2008 with partner Julie and dear friend Esmé at her side. Carrie was born Nov. 14, 1955 in Brooklyn, N.Y. She came to San Francisco on her own when she was 16 to be a part of the experimental free school Symbas and to live in a communal space known as Project One.

Carrie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 22 and began using a wheelchair shortly thereafter. Carrie dedicated her life as a community organizer leading the struggles for better life for women, lesbians and disabled people.

In the 1980s she was a member of ADAPT (American Disabled for Accessible Paratransit). She was arrested many times for civil disobedience including chaining herself to public busses that lacked working wheelchair lifts.

Carrie served on the Alameda Contra Costa Transit District Accessibility Advisory Board which advised the bus service on how to better meet the needs of people of all abilities. She was a peer counselor to newly disabled people. She served on many City of Berkeley commissions including the Commission on Disability, Human Welfare Community Action Commission, Health Commission, and homeless task force. Her leadership and community work was tireless.

Carrie was a graduate of the apprenticeship program at KPFA radio in Berkeley and ran the sound board on Tuesday mornings in the early 1990s.

In the mid-1990s Carrie went on three humanitarian aid trips to Cuba. And was instrumental in taking a retired AC transit wheelchair lift bus to Cuba which became their first such vehicle.

Carrie traveled the world in her wheelchair, spending time in Central America, Europe, Mexico, as well as crossing the United States many times.

Carrie came to Fort Bragg in 2002 to live with her partner Julie as they worked to develop self sufficiency and harmony with animals and plants on their acre of land.

Carrie enjoyed many years of attending the Senior Center's Adult Day Health Program. Her occasional health challenges made her well known by the paramedics, nurses, aides, and doctors at Mendocino Coast District Hospital where she was always treated with care, dignity, and respect.

Carrie is survived by her partner of 18 years, Julie Apostolu of Fort Bragg; dear friend Esmé Moreira of New Zealand and Fort Bragg; her parents Martin and Louise Gagliardi of Greenwood Lake, N.Y.; brother Joe Gagliardi and his family of Georgia; brother Mark Gagliardi and his family of New York; her aunt Marie Rust of Venice, Fla.; and many other cousins, aunts, uncles and friends near and far.

Carrie's vision was about keeping disabled people in life, community and living at home, that despite whatever level of disability, every single person is a giving and viable part of community, family and friends.

Arrangements are being handled by Chapel by the Sea in Fort Bragg. No services are planned; please honor Carrie's life daily by expanding your own vision of the world.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Mendocino Coast Hospital Critical Care Nurses, 700 River Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437,, or the Mendocino Coast Humane Society 19692 Summers Lane, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, Please visit Carrie's memorial page on

Carrie, it has been a joy and an honor to love you and care for you. You live forever in my heart.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Elizabeth Bacon 1947 - 2008

Elizabeth (Betty) Bacon, one of the most influential and dynamic advocates for the rights of people with disabilities in San Diego and California for more than 30 years, passed away unexpectedly due to illness Sunday, February 24, 2008, in San Diego. She was 61.
Before her retirement in 2004, Betty worked for 29 years at San Diego State University, serving as Director of Disabled Student Services (DSS) for 25 years and for four years in the Office of Diversity and Equity, demonstrating leadership in the formulation of policies that affect SDSU employees and visitors to the campus.

Betty became involved with disability issues after she sustained a spinal cord injury in 1968 as the result of a sporting accident. She used a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She subsequently completed a B.A. and Masters Degree in counseling at San Jose State University. She became interested in the development of the support services program for disabled students at San Jose State University. That involvement marked the beginning of a professional career for this petite, passionate, effective advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

Soon after in 1975, Betty moved to San Diego to direct the DSS program at San Diego State University. She took over a fledgling program serving about 100 students with disabilities. The office was in the old Campus Laboratory School, in space that had formerly housed the kitchen for the school cafeteria. Under her direction, the program grew from a staff of two to 15 full-time employees and numerous part-time staff which now serves over 1,100 students annually. Betty's on-campus responsibilities also included consulting with staff in Facilities Planning and Physical Plant on architectural accessibility to ensure compliance with state and federal codes and regulations. When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, Betty coordinated the required campus self-evaluation. The SDSU program, which she directed, became a model for many others and she was often called upon as a mentor and guide to other Directors of programs for students with disabilities in higher education. In her campus work, she was a tireless advocate for an accessible campus and for equal access for students with disabilities to all university programs.

In addition to developing the DSS program at SDSU, Betty was involved at the system-wide and state level. She served as the chair of the California State University DSS Directors, as a member of the CSU Chancellors Office Advisory Committee on Services for Students with Disabilities, and on a similar committee on Services for Faculty and Staff with Disabilities. Some of her additional accomplishments include: -- Serving on a variety of local boards and advisory committees to the City and County addressing such issues as architectural accessibility, access to public transportation and employment. -- Serving as an elected delegate to the 1977 National White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals. -- Founding Board Member of Community Service Center for the Disabled, now Access to Independence, in San Diego, one of the largest independent living centers in the country. Betty was appointed by Governor Wilson to the California Department of Rehabilitation Advisory Committee, and served as an advisor to the Office of the State Architect on code revisions. She also served as an executive committee member of the California Association for Postsecondary Education and Disability. In addition, she served on the Citizens Review Committee on ADA for the City of San Diego, as a member of the Accessibility Advisory Committee to the Port of San Diego, as a program evaluator at San Diego City College and several other community colleges. Betty went toe-to-toe with the oil industry to make gas pumps accessible, the housing industry over universal design, MTS on making the trolleys accessible, and the Mayor's Office on creating and sustaining a disability services position at City Hall. Betty was always positive and respectful as well as tireless, knowledgeable, and tenacious in her dedication to an accessible community that is welcoming to everyone. In her own words, "I believe that we must work toward a world and a community that includes us all and values our differences."

Predeceased by her parents, Dr. Alfons R. and Dorothy Bacon, she is survived by her twin sister Ellen (and Scott) Guthrie of Tallahassee, Florida, brother Chuck (and Caroline) Bacon of Falmouth, Massachusetts, sister Nancy (and David) Rothel of Dahlonega, Georgia, brother Frank (and AnnLiv) Bacon of Edina, Minnesota, brother Jim (and Jane) Chandler of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and niece Laura Wiley of Raleigh, North Carolina as well as numerous close friends and colleagues in San Diego, California, and nationwide who will all miss her wisdom, positive spirit, dedication, friendship and love.

Betty loved nature, and felt strongly that the Earth must be cared for and protected so that all persons, including people with disabilities, might enjoy and thrive on our planet. As a result, she expressed a desire that in lieu of flowers any donations in her name be sent to the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, or the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. A Celebration of Betty's Life will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, 2008 at the Town and County Resort & Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North (at Fashion Valley Road) in Mission Valley.Please sign the guest book at

Elizabeth Bacon, advocate for rights of the disabled

She loved to dance, travel and hike, and Elizabeth “Betty” Bacon didn't let a wheelchair stop her from doing anything, especially advocating for the rights of others with disabilities.

Whether it was getting wheelchair ramps on college campuses and other public buildings or pushing for more lifts on city buses and trolleys, Ms. Bacon was often on the front lines of change.

“She was dogged but never rude or harsh,” said Catherine Campisi, former director of the state Department of Rehabilitation.

Ms. Bacon was the director of Disabled Student Services at San Diego State University for 25 years. She also worked at SDSU's Office of Diversity and Equity for four years.

Ms. Bacon died Feb. 24 at a San Diego hospital. Her body was donated to science, per her wishes. The cause of death was sepsis, an infection of the bloodstream, said her sister, Ellen Guthrie. She was 60.

Friends and colleagues said Ms. Bacon was a coalition builder who won people over with her charm and persistence. She played a significant role in ensuring that city and county agencies complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act. She was most recently involved in the “What's Next” program that pairs disabled teens and young adults with older professionals with similar disabilities who could mentor them.

“She was very much of a mentor to many people over the years,” said Helen Elias, a longtime friend.

Elias, who is director of Disability Student Services at Southwestern College, said Ms. Bacon was an effective advocate because of her diplomatic and articulate manner.

“She had strong feelings but there was never a sense of anger or sense of entitlement,” Elias said.

Ms. Bacon was one of four named plaintiffs in a 1995 class-action lawsuit claiming San Diego County was violating the ADA. Cyndi Jones, director of the Center for an Accessible Society, recalled Ms. Bacon calling a cadre of friends to visit county parks over the weekend. She wanted to rebut a lawyer's contention about 100 percent compliance before a scheduled Monday meeting.

“We went to Carlsbad, Julian, Escondido . . . we visited every park in the county. She made advocacy fun,” Jones said. “We did an access survey and found that only 53 percent of the parks were in compliance. Many had no accessible parking or bathrooms.”

Elias said that Ms. Bacon loved nature and enjoyed camping, hiking and sailing. She was gregarious and enjoyed having parties at her Allied Gardens home.

“She had a lot of joy and loved helping others,” Elias said.

When Catherine Campisi moved to San Diego in the mid-1970s, there were no formal resource centers for people with disabilities.

“I was told, 'Go meet Betty Bacon and she'll help you.' Later we became colleagues and good friends,” Campisi said.

Ms. Bacon's involvement with disability issues started after a sporting accident in 1968. She parachuted into a tree and the fall from the tree left her with a spinal cord injury. She used a wheelchair the rest of her life.

“Betty always said she was happy with the person that she was and she wouldn't be that person without her disability,” said her twin sister, Ellen Guthrie.

Ms. Bacon was born Dec. 31, 1947, in Chicago to Alfons and Dorothy Bacon. The family moved to Sarasota, Fla., when she was 5 years old. Guthrie said their father, a physician, was not prepared for the South after practicing medicine in Chicago.

“He was the first doctor (in Sarasota) to integrate his waiting room even though people told him he might lose patients,” Guthrie said. “That's probably where Betty got her feisty spirit. She accepted everybody.”

Guthrie recalled bringing home a college roommate who happened to be blind.

“She said she always wanted to learn to water ski and Betty made sure she had that experience,” she said.

Ms. Bacon earned bachelor's and master's degrees in counseling from San Jose State University. She moved to San Diego in 1975 to take over San Diego State's fledgling Disabled Student Services program, which grew from a staff of two serving about 100 students to 15 full-time employees and several part-timers serving more than 1,100 students a year.

Ray Uzeta worked with Ms. Bacon to found the Community Service Center for the Disabled, now known as Access to Independence.

“You look at ramps, curb cuts, lifts on buses and trolleys . . . all the things that we now take for granted are changes that happened because of people like Betty,” Uzeta said.

Ms. Bacon was appointed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson to the California Department of Rehabilitation Advisory Committee and served on the Citizens Review Committee on ADA and Disability Issues for the city of San Diego. She also lobbied the mayor's office to create and maintain a disability services position at City Hall.

Besides her twin sister, Ellen, of Tallahassee, Fla., Ms. Bacon is survived by her brothers, Chuck of Falmouth, Mass.; Frank of Edina, Minn.; Jim Chandler of Santa Fe, N.M.; and a sister, Nancy Rothel of Dahlonega, Ga.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ms. Bacon's name to the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy or the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Eccleston, Margaret (Peggy) Hinkle Farnsworth 1923-2005

Eccleston, Margaret (Peggy) Hinkle Farnsworth

Peggy entered into her rest peacefully with her family by her side at home in Riverside, California on Friday morning, December 30, 2005. She was born on January 18, 1923 in Roswell, New Mexico and was preceded in death by her husband, Charles Raymond Eccleston; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Farnsworth; her paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus Farnsworth; her maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. James F. Hinkle; and her sister, Dolores Farnsworth Snipes.

She is survived by her daughter, Bonnie Falkner of Moreno Valley, CA; her son, Kyle Eccleston of Banning, CA; her grandson, Cletus Goible of Moreno Valley, CA; her sister, Sue Bennett of Great Falls, VA, and those many who called her “Mom”.

Peggy was loved by all and admired for her tremendous positive attitude in the face of her handicap with polio. She personally achieved many goals for those with special needs. Her accomplishments with CAPH/CDR affected every area of the country breaking down the walls of physical limitations to allow those with physical disabilities greater participation in the mainstream of life’s activities.

She was truly an advocate for those less fortunate and dedicated her life to bringing about change to help better the lives of those who could not help themselves. Her strength of will, her determination, her love, and her understanding ways will forever be an example to those of us who continue our journey here.

The Gathering for a time of sharing and celebration of Mom’s life will take place at noon on Friday, January 20, 2006 at the Acheson and Graham Garden of Prayer Mortuary, 7944 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, CA. Internment will follow at Riverside National Cemetery. Please feel free to send your thoughts or memories of Mom to her son, Kyle Eccleston, 1180 West George Street, Banning, CA 92220 or bring them with you to the Gathering.

Donations may be made in Peggy’s name to:
Californians for Disability Rights
909 12th Street
Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95814

Our Lady of Guadalupe Poor Clare Monastery
809 East Nineteenth Street
Roswell, New Mexico 88201-7599

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
2107 Wilson Blvd. #300
Arlington, VA 22201

The Salvation Army
3695 First Street
Riverside, CA 92501

Monday, September 19, 2005

Karen Greebon: 1942-2005

Karen Greebon: 1942-2005
Activist devoted life to keeping people with disabilities out of institutions
By Joshunda Sanders

Monday, September 26, 2005

Karen Greebon, an Austin disability rights activist who fought against placing people with disabilities in nursing homes, died Sept. 19. She was 63.

Greebon died from complications associated with liver problems, her partner of more than 14 years, James Templeton said.

Bob Kafka, a national and state organizer with American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, said that the week before her death, Greebon was in Washington fighting against Medicaid cuts despite her poor health. "She was one of the most really committed, hard-headed and strong-speaking women," he said.

Greebon, who had cerebral palsy, was born in New Braun- fels. When her family could not take care of her anymore, she was placed in a nursing home. At the time, there were no in-home services for people with disabilities. She lived in a Luling nursing home for 12 years.

"I can tell you it is no place for children, young adults or old people," Greebon said of the nursing home experience in 1993 at a protest urging the Texas Department of Human Services to allow people with disabilities to live in community-based homes.

She became an activist because she believed that nursing homes did not allow people to have their own lives or do what they wanted to do, Templeton said.

United Cerebral Palsy of Texas helped her become independent, and in 1990 she became an active member of the local chapter of American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today. It was there that she met Templeton, who also has cerebral palsy.

"I really fell in love with her when I first met her," Templeton said. "It was love at first sight."

Together, they worked on aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.

In 1998, they moved into a home together with the help of A Home of Your Own, a program that offers low-interest loans to people with disabilities.

Greebon is survived by a brother who lives in New Braunfels. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, and her funeral will be noon Wednesday at All Faiths Funeral Service, 4360 S. Congress Ave.

"The issue of getting and keeping people out of institutions is a civil rights issue," Kafka said. "Karen should be held up as one of the leaders of civil rights in Texas.

"If one had to write a bumper sticker for Karen, it would say, 'Our homes, not nursing homes.' That's something she actually felt deep in her heart."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Joel Bryan 1937 - 2005

Joel Bryan , longtime treasurer and a founder of the Yolano Chapter of Californians for Disability Rights, died Wednesday, January 19, 2005 from complications due to pneumonia. He was 67 years old.
Born July 13, 1937, he was the oldest of four children of Dr. Jack Y. and Margaret Gardner Bryan in Baltimore, Maryland. His father was a university professor, foreign-service diplomat and author and his mother was teacher of ESL. The family was stationed in a number of countries and were living in the Philippines in 1950 where Joel contracted polio at the age of 12. was totally paralyzed and needed an iron lung to breathe.
As a result of aggressive rehabilitation at Kabat-Kaiser (1951-4) in Santa Monica, California he was eventually able to breathe on his own and could sit up in a wheelchair. His parents insisted that he attend regular high school and he graduated from Newport High in 1956.
He attended Orange Coast Community College and transferred to UC Riverside where he received his BA in Psychology in 1964.
During his college years he took a year off to go to Karachi with his family, teaching algebra and geometry at the American School. Additionally, he did a one-year internship at the California Institute for Women.
Music was always an important part of Joel’s life. He played piano prior to becoming ill with polio. Early in his hospital stay Joel got a small harmonica and later a larger chromatic harmonica which allows for sharps and flats as well as the white keys on the piano. From the orderlies at the hospital he was introduced to jazz and the blues. With some adaptation for holding the harmonica, he played as he lay in bed and gradually got stronger. The addition of a chamber to allow for the collection of the sound enabled him to control the volume through a guitar amplifier. With the larger sound he was able to play with rock and roll groups, first at UC Riverside and then as the featured artist with a jazz group in Newport Beach.
He was part of the Jan DeNeau Quartet and written up in Downbeat magazine in June of 1966. Through his music, Joel was able to express his feelings of pain and loneliness. As he said once, "I could harness those feelings and blow them through that instrument."

After graduation he applied for a position in the Student Placement Center at UC Riverside. When he was offered the position he eagerly accepted it, relishing the success of competing for a regular job that included working with students and having the ability to live independently.
He was the first student in a wheelchair to UCR and the university worked with him on accommodations as problems arose. Since the university was relatively new, classrooms and the campus were generally accessible.
However, in 1963 the University built a new wing off the library and it had three steps in front of it. Although it was still accessible, Joel would need special help and special permission to gain access to the library.
By now there were four students in wheelchairs, so he gathered them together and wrote a letter to the dean of students, expressing outrage that the campus was excluding them from the library. The letter not only reversed the thoughtless direction in terms of design but the university adapted a barrier-free building program in 1966.
Five years later he was asked to lead the disabled students program at UCR.
Through his position with Student Placement, Joel was interviewing 40 students a day who were looking for work. He helped other disabled students find, hire and train attendants. He became involved in the campus administration in terms of addressing students’ needs and in 1969 UCR created Student Special Services and appointed him director. By this time there were 12 students in wheelchairs and the need for services for severely disabled students was evident.
UCR was in a unique position with its relatively barrier-free environment. He worked with the campus architect, involved students in reviewing new buildings and retrofitting old ones, did a campus needs assessment and institutionalized student input. Joel’s philosophy was to treat students as adults, letting them make their own decisions and learning from them. It was important that each student was in charge of himself. The first priority became a wheelchair repair center and an Educational Resource Center.
In 1970 the federal Trio grants (Special Services for Disadvantaged Students in Institutions of Higher Education) came out. The request proposal addressed the needs of physically disadvantaged students. The grant stressed that UCR would have special services to overcome handicaps to higher education arising from disabilities. It was funded, along with a community-based program at UC Berkeley that brought together Ed Roberts (a post Polio quadriplegic) and John Hessler (a traumatic quadriplegic), who were later appointed to the Department of Rehabilitation during the Brown Administration. Ed Roberts became the first disabled director of that department. Both men have preceded Joel in death but together they formed the Disabled Movement in Higher Education during the 60’s and 70’s.
Joel was hired in 1973 to head the program at UC Davis and retired in 1987 as post-polio syndrome began to affect his respiratory system and make full time work impossible.
Joel had met his wife, Mary Jo, when she returned to college to get her BA. He assisted with finding her part-time employment but she ended with a full time position as his wife in December 1969.
Together they moved to Davis in September of 1973 with their infant son, John Gordon and in 1975 Barton Guy was born. Joel continued to play the harmonica, the pain of his loneliness replaced with the happiness of his life through marriage and the birth of his sons.
Joel was always an avid sports fan and when the Sacramento Kings came to town, his brother-in-law, Bill Walton was able to obtain season tickets for him and his family. He attended Kings games for the last 20 years. Joel never gave up hope on the King’s and enjoyed their current success. Section 107 has experienced the lost of a great fan and friend.
In the Yolano Chapter of CDR, Joel was also a leader and seasoned participant in many of its discussions and forums on accessibility and independent living for persons with a variety of disabling conditions. A special concern of his was that a person with a disability should become his or her own expert on it, so as to assist health care professionals to provide appropriate medical and therapeutic care..
Joel is survived by his wife of 35 years, Mary Jo, his sons Gordon and Barton, his sisters Donna and Kirsten and brother Guy, and an extended family on both sides that admired, loved and will miss him dearly.
A celebration of Joel’s life will take place on Saturday, February 19th at the Davis Art Center, 1919 F Street, from 1 to 4pm.
Contributions to Californians for Disability Rights Foundation scholarship program (tax deductible) or to the Yolano Chapter of CDR in lieu of flowers can be made to 1610 Sycamore Lane, Davis 95616.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

L Natasha Littletree 1952 - 2004

L. Natasha Littletree, a longtime and beloved disability rights advocate passed away today (October 5) after a brief illness, at the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa.
Littletree, at the time of her passing, served as the chair of the Area Board IV on Developmental Disabilities. Peter Mendoza, chair of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, which oversees the 13 Area Boards called L Natasha Littletree "... a valued Area Board IV Chair, a statewide advocate, and gifted writer" and praised her efforts as an advocate.
Littletree, who had physical and developmental disabilities, is survived by an adult daughter, Jamaica, and her longtime partner of and friend of over 15 years, Mark Foxwell.
Littletree, who went to college and graduated - and was known also for her writings, much of which she posted on her website [see link]. Mark Foxwell said earlier how much Natasha Littletree took pride in her writings and was an avid user and writer of emails to friends and advocates everywhere.
But Littletree was best known across the state for her appearances at countless legislative and budget hearings, testifying for the rights of people with disabilities and seniors. Littletree was known for her passionate advocacy in pushing California to fully comply with the 1999 US Supreme Court Olmstead Decision that required the states to take measures to prevent "unnecessary institutionalization" under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. She, along with thousands of others, converged on the State Capitol on December 10th last year to testify against the Governor's initial budget proposals that called for the suspension of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, and other major cuts impacting people with disabilities and seniors. She most recently testifed at a informational hearing by the Assembly Select Committee on Olmstead, chaired by Assemblymember Lynn Daucher (R-Brea) late last month.
Area 4 Board (August 2002-present; Chair January 2004-present)
Olmstead Advisory Group (Appointed July 2003; current status unclear!)
Liason from ARC-Sonoma to Coalition to Preserve Lanterman.
Sonoma County In-Home Supportive Services Advisory Comm. (September2000-July 2001)
In Her own Words......
I was born in Los Angeles a long time ago. I grew up in Hawthorne, Manhattan Beach, and Hermosa Beach, with my birth name of Lisa Irene Schweitzer. (Read on to see the story of my other name!) I've always felt like somebody's advocate. And I began writing in the school paper when I was 14. After that time I wrote poetry, newspaper articles, short stories, and helped my father with his political campaign. And it failed!
When I was 10 1/2, I was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare neuromuscular disorder. According to my doctors this would kill me before I reached age 20. I had better things to do! And you know, the farther along I come the more I have yet to do!
Writing was not enough for me. I had to play around with a debate team, but because of my disability I could not handle a semester of flute. In the '60's, disabled people were not "mainstreamed" as they were later in the '70's. Back then they had special schools, home teaching, and later came mainstreaming. I was always a little bit older than most of my classmates. I had a tendency to take people under my wing.
Junior college was a blast! I had had no formal eductation since I was sixteen and at 19, I started over again. I was dismayed by the fact that testing for junior college entrance did not allow for the fact that I was disabled. Now I fight for those rights for others much the way I have had to do for myself.
Some thirty-odd years ago I was in love with poetry and art. Before I went to El Camino College I felt that I wore a Scarlet Letter, a "C" for "Cripple!" But I don't remember anyone having a problem with my disability at the college. As long as I did not go to Disability Resources; there I had problems, then and later at other colleges. At El Camino in those days the first priority was for disabled Vietnam veterans and then for blind students and I always found there was no time, resources, or advocacy left for me, so I learned to solve my problems without them. My art classes were like empty canvases. I brought my colors to them. I could not pass a simple English entrance exam. But I did all right in speed-reading and my poetry flourished.
I am not going to begin to tell you how many junior colleges I have been to! I did a lot of things as a young woman--I worked in the South Bay Free Clinic as a phone receptionist (my voice is weak today but it was strong then!) I was a crisis counselor on the Lawndale Hotline. I freelanced for the Hawthorne Press as an artist and also as journalist--I interviewed rock bands at the Troubadour. Most of this work was strictly volunteer work. For many months in 1973 I had no income since the invention of SSI came with some terrible snags, and those of us who needed disability income were told to go to live with our parents or to hospitals. My family would not allow me to live in any of their homes, and convalescent hospitals are designed as places to go and die in, so I survived by doing what work I was able and with the help of my friends, the way it was back then among the post-hippie crowd at the Colony co-op. Eventually they fixed the SSI system and my checks found me, and I paid them all back, and could rent my own place again--rent was much lower in places like Hollywood or Hermosa Beach back then.
And then there is Jamaica Littletree, my daughter. Having a child made me feel human, but there were a lot of problems I had not counted on. Early in the pregnancy a genetic specialist saw me and thought I was a "bright and courageous" woman, and that I could deal with a child disabled like me. My daughter grew up in my home until I could not get the amount of in-home care I was supposed to in the county my family had moved to; this led to my own collapse into a coma and I lost custody of Jamaica when she was eight.
As for me I woke up in a convalescent hospital, the worst time in my life. I lived there for seven months. learning to do what I had forgotten. With the help of a lawyer friend from Protection & Advocacy I forced the county and hospital to admit I should live on my own and struggled back into independent living. I found my way to the best community college I have ever known, Pasadena City College, where I found friends and peers among the faculty and staff. I went to school in part to study law since I was still struggling to get my daugher back home, but I learned that you don't learn about just one thing at a good school; it opens the door to all kinds of learning. It was there I first took a screenwriting course and began to think I could write fiction. So many people have asked me to write my own story; sometimes I oblige them, but if you read my fiction you will find more of what has happened to me, though often turned around one way or another! I write to be heard and remembered!
PCC laid the groundwork for me to go North, out of my native Los Angeles smog; for a year I took classes at Humboldt State (where I made a movie out of Goodnight, Moon) but it was at Sonoma State University that I finished the editing! Here I followed a special major to enhance my skills as a scriptwriter, and I earned my BA in 1998. But no sooner did I perform my first graduation walk since kindergarten than I went right back in, because I love SSU as much as PCC and I had been accepted into the English Master's program.
As an MA I did a lot of the things most people do as undergrads, because I was determined to reach out. The president of the student body was in my screenwriting class and when he appealed to his classmates to get involved in the Associated Students I rolled forward! I was not sure I would be accepted into the MA program but I ran as the first person ever to seek the office of Graduate Representative in the student election. I stressed that as an older undergrad who lived far from the campus I understood the needs of grad students, and this was correct! The two years of my MA were also packed with my campus activism, because the more I knew my campus the more I loved it!
One of my proudest achievements was creating my web page which was intended as a way to reach and be reached.
Please Visit the link to read more of her writings and accomplishments
From Tony Anderson
L Natasha Littletree, an important ally and friend has passed away today. Natasha was a dedicated and effective advocate who knew how to fight for the rights of people with disabilities and perhaps more importantly knew how to bring people together. Natasha was a member of The Arc family (The Arc of Sonoma County), the Lanterman Coalition, the original Olmstead Advisory Group, COCO, and the chair of the Area 4 Board in Napa, Solano, and Sonoma Counties. Besides being a respected colleague in the disability field, she was also a dear friend. I will miss her tremendously and I know many others will as well. Please visit her website to learn more about this amazing woman.

Tony Anderson, MAExecutive DirectorThe Arc of California1225 8th Street, Suite 210 Sacramento, CA 95814