Margaret (Peggy) Hinkle Farnsworth Eccleston, 1923-2005

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.

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

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 Braunfels. 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.

“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.”

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. He 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.

Contributions to Californians for Disability Rights Foundation scholarship program (tax deductible) or to the Yolano Chapter of CDR.