Sunday 17 July 2016

Wally Dutcher--A leader to be followed and missed and never forgotten.

When I called to talk with him this past Thursday about a project we were working on together I got sick to my stomach when I heard another voice on his answering machine.  It was on the return call from his daughter that my fears were realized.  I lost a great mentor and the world lost a leader.

I had met Wally when he reached out to me because of this website back in 2014 just as I was finishing up my studies on Universal Design with the IDeA program.  Meeting him this way was very ironic because he lived most of his adult life in St. Petersburg and not far from where I used to live in St. Pete before returning to St. Louis.   From that point on, we talked on the phone and emailed back and forth regularly and he was very generous with his time and suggestions on positive ways to overcome obstacles, whether in a drawing or the type that can't be seen but heard and felt. He was a creative problem solver and this became evident to me in the accomplishments he shared with me via email and from my visits to see him.

He was an artistic spirit who did not let a debilitating injury in the prime of his life stop him from living.  He found creative ways to do not just what he needed to do to exist as a human being but what he wanted to do as a living and vibrant person.  He had a great passion for life, the arts and helping others and he was a tireless promoter of freedom and access for all.  He and his wife raised a beautiful daughter and lived in a gorgeous home that he designed on an intracoastal waterway; it was filled with a great collection of art, family memories and accomplishments of the full life he lived as a man with quadriplegia.

I will forever be sad my daughter Mia never got to meet Wally because she could have learned from him too.  I do thank her for the fact that I met him because this AUDP project only came to fruition because of her.  Thank you, Mia and thank you,Wally!  I am going to continue to share with others what you have shared with me.

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