All posts by Steve Cook

Positive Note 1640

January 17, 2018

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1640

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

Now that the 2018 Statewide Seminar is behind us, let’s take a look at some of the activities which will be occurring during the next few months in the NFB of SC.  Do not forget to purchase your tickets to attend the third annual Sweetheart Dance sponsored by the NFB of SC which will be held on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at the Federation Center of the Blind from 5:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.  The evening promises to be a fun and enjoyable experience with a professionally catered dinner, door prizes, music and dancing.  Tickets to this event will only be $25 for an individual and $45 per couple.  Please make checks payable to NFB of SC and mail to:  NFB of SC, c/o David Houck, 119 S. Kilbourne Road, Columbia, SC 29205.

Please note the memo line for Sweethearts Dance. Please include an address so that tickets can be mailed once payment has been received. Deadline to purchase tickets is Tuesday, February 6, 2018.  We are asking all chapter presidents to contribute a door prize for this special event including: gift cards, cash or assembled gift baskets. Please contact Jennifer Bazer at 803-661-6622 or jhipp25@sc.rr.com if you would like to contribute a door prize.   If you have any questions regarding this fundraising event, please contact Debra Canty, NFB of SC fundraising Chairperson, at 803-775-5792 or via email at debra.canty@frontier.com.

On Saturday, March 17, 2018 the NFB of SC will host a Leadership Seminar at the Federation Center of the Blind from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Lunch will be provided.  All members are encouraged to attend and there will be no charge for the seminar.  Come and learn about the history of the NFB and NFB of SC, your rights and responsibilities as a consumer of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, Social Security benefits, and any general chapter issues you would like to discuss.  Since the inclement weather prevented some chapters from attending the Statewide Seminar, the Orlando bus ticket drawing will be held on March 17 at the Leadership Seminar.  As of this date we have only sold approximately 2000 tickets, so let’s do all that we can to sell more tickets!

We have an important announcement from Steve Cook, President of the Computer Science and Technology Division.  “The Computer Science & Technology Division needs your assistance!  Our website www.nfbofsc.org is for everyone to use.  We can use this for recruiting new members, posting upcoming events pertaining to your chapter or division, election results, updated contact information, newsletters, material designed especially for your chapter, applications, etc. Please contact Steve Cook at (803) 254-0222 or cookcafe@sc.rr.com to have information posted on our website.  Let’s all work together to keep each other well informed!  (Please note: if you would like to send any photos to go along with your information, please identify each and describe the photo with any relevant names, places, or events.)  Thank you for your participation.”

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

We are pleased to honor the First Lady of the NFB of SC, Mrs. Coppel by spotlighting her in this week’s Positive Note.  Also this is the first Positive Note of the New Year where it’s appropriate that we recognize at this time the First Lady as our first Positive Note spotlight of 2018.

Shelley Coppel was born in Moscow, Idaho and was raised in Orofino, Idaho.  Orofino means “fine gold” in Spanish as there are gold mines in the area.  After graduating high school in 1970, Shelley graduated from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon in 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music majoring in Piano.  She lost her vision at that time but following graduation she attended the Commission for the Blind in Boise to obtain her blindness skills training.  Shelley received her Master’s degree in K-12 Special Education for teaching blind children from Bingham Young University in June of 1977.  This led her to Edinburg, Texas where she was a regional consultant in an Educational Service Center working with blind children.  She then moved in 1979 to the Nebraska Commission for the Blind where she worked in vocational rehabilitation teaching a variety of blindness skills and adaptive aids.    In 1982 she married her first husband Jim Bruns where they also adopted Jason Bruns in 1988.  She then retired from rehabilitation services to be a stay at home mom although she did work some part-time vending in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Shelley moved to Columbia for a few years in 1998 until 2006.  In October of 2006 she took a position teaching organizational skills at the Colorado Center for the Blind.  This was an exciting time because everyone was so enthusiastic about employment and the NFB philosophy was heavily applied.  Shelley met Frank Coppel and moved back to Columbia and they were married in April 2011 and they make an excellent team.  She is very much involved in the NFB of SC, having received the Donald C. Capps Award, worked in Children’s Camps and Senior Camps, is President of the NFB of SC Senior Division, is Secretary on the National Senior Division Board, and is involved with all aspects of federation activity including Washington Seminars.  With her service to blind seniors, at the 2017 NFB Convention in Orlando, Shelley participated significantly with blind seniors, having been quoted in a recent issue of the Braille Monitor.  She has attended about 30 national and seven state conventions, not to mention her work with her husband, Frank Coppel who is NFB of SC President and is the RBRCCB Board Chairman.  Her hobbies include traveling, singing in the church choir, music and crocheting but her greatest love is for tending to her four grandchildren with two additional twin grandsons which are due in May.  As you can see, Shelley Coppel has many talents and she enjoys living the life she wants.

 

Final Thought:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  –  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Positive Note 1639

January 10, 2018

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1639

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

I want to thank all of you who attended the 48th annual Statewide Seminar this past Saturday.  Despite sickness, frigid temperatures, and inclement weather in the lower half of the state, approximately ninety Federationists attended this year’s seminar.  We were pleased to have representatives from the three agencies who provide services to the blind, Kyle Walker, from the SC Commission for the Blind, Paige McCraw, from the SC School for the Deaf and Blind, and Sandy Knowles, from Talking Book Services who gave presentations at the Seminar.  Loretta Green spoke to the audience regarding the upcoming bus trip to our National Center the weekend of April 6-8.  The cost to ride the charter bus will be $100 per person.  To participate, you need to submit an application along with a $25 deposit to either Loretta Green or Isaiah nelson.  The remainder of the money is due no later than February 25, 2018.  If you have any questions, regarding this trip you can contact Loretta Green at (843) 276-9649 or Isaiah Nelson at (803) 413-2434.  I spoke to the audience regarding the upcoming Leadership Seminar which will be held on March 17, for chapter and division leaders.  The seminar will run from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and lunch will be provided.  Topics will include federation philosophy and history, Commission for the Blind services, Social Security and chapter operations.  Thom Spittle did an excellent job as auctioneer as we raised $571 for the Federation Center.  I along with Ed Bible, Jennifer Bazer and Shelley Coppel gave the RBRCCB report. Ed Bible reported on the volunteer involvement of church and civic groups to improve the facilities and grounds.  The two Senior Camps will be held May20-24, and September 16-20.  Children’s Camp will be held June 10-16.  I reported to the audience the RBRCCB Board of Directors voted to increase the processing fees for Oglesby Cottage, Osterneck Cottage, Ellenburg Lodge, and the Conference Center.  The increases went in to effect January 2, 2018.  Debra Canty, NFB of SC fund raising committee chairperson, informed the group about the third annual Sweetheart Dance on Saturday, February 17 which will take place between 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.at the Federation Center of the Blind.  Tickets are $25 per person or $45 per couple.  Money for tickets is due by February 6.

At the State Board meeting, which was held during the two hour lunch break, the Board elected Frank Coppel as delegate, and Dorothy Barksdale as alternate delegate to the 2018 NFB national convention which will be held July 3-8 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida.  The board was informed the 2018 NFB of SC state convention will be held at the Columbia Marriott Hotel the weekend of August 10-12.  A planning committee for the state convention will be established and it will be Chaired by Tiffiny Mitchell.  Details regarding the Washington seminar were discussed.  The NFB of SC’s delegation to the Washington seminar will consist of state officers and board members as well as four high school seniors and two chaperones from our Successful Transitions Program.  Because some of our chapters could not attend the seminar due to the frigid temperatures and inclement weather, the bus drawing was postponed until the Leadership Seminar on March 17.

I want to take this opportunity thank Isaiah Nelson and his group of volunteers for preparing and serving a delicious lunch.  I also want to especially thank David Houck for all of his hard work prior to the Seminar and all day Saturday to ensure the meeting was a success.

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

My heart and thoughts were with those of you attending the Statewide Seminar last Saturday as the weather was so cold with other conditions including snow, etc.  It was indicative of the commitment to federation activity and I salute you.  In reading President Coppel’s portion of the Positive Note it is clear that the Statewide Seminar was very successful.  I’m pleased that the state convention this August will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Columbia as this makes the convention site more accessible from across the state.  Also, we are familiar with the Marriott Hotel having been there on several occasions.

I have good news on Betty’s illness.  She was discharged from the hospital on Nre Year’s eve and four or five days later she had a follow up with her physician who found her recovery to be very good.  There are no apparent problems from the mini stroke and I’m especially pleased about this.

I’m dictating this part of the Positive Note Wednesday morning, January 10.  We plan to attend the Columbia Chapter meeting tomorrow, Thursday, January 11.  Betty appears sufficiently able to attend this type of meeting which is relatively short.

I thought I would use this part of the Positive Note to catch up on New Year’s issues ongoing over many years.  In the early days of Colonial Life, my employer for some38 years, the Claims Department where I was employed was responsible for conducting an end-of-year claims reserve.  In other words the Insurance Department in those days made the company maintain a reserve with the Insurance Department to be sure the company had adequate funds for taking care of claims which were still pending at that time.  The amount of the reserve had an effect on the financial status of the company.  If the Insurance Department noted an inadequate reserve, it would take action against the company.  Colonial was always in good shape financially.  One other gentleman and myself set aside the New Year’s Day weekend to review and make a decision regarding the reserve.  My co-employee did the reading and I had the responsibility of examining the claims file and making an assessment on the amount that should be reserved.  It was boring but absolutely necessary.  At that time we were not too happy about having to work during the New Year’s weekend while other employees had the weekend off.  For many years now, Colonial has relied on computers to have the reserve estimated.  In those days I dreaded seeing the New Year come in.  End of year duties are still with us but doing the claims reserve I despised.

 

Final Thought:  Now that we have learned much at the Statewide Seminar, let’s spread the word back home and get busy.

Positive Note 1638

January 3, 2018

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1638

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

Happy New Year!  I hope all of you had a wonderful Holiday season and are now ready to begin 2018 with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy.  You can now begin to make your reservations for the upcoming 2018 Orlando National Convention.  The date of this year’s national convention will be July 3, to July 8, 2018 and will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.  The 2018 room rates are singles and doubles, $88; and triples and quads, $93. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 12.5 percent. No charge will be made for children under seventeen in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. Please note that the hotel is a no-smoking facility.

For 2018 convention room reservations you can call the hotel at (866) 996-6338. You may also write directly to the Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819-9357. The hotel will want a deposit of $100 for each room and will want a credit card number or a personal check. If you use a credit card, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately, just as would be the case with a $100 check. If a reservation is cancelled before Friday, June, 1, 2018, half of the deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made.  The schedule of the convention is as follows:  Tuesday, July 3, Seminar Day – Wednesday, July 4, Registration and exhibits – Thursday, July 5, National Board Meeting and division and committee meetings – Friday, July 6, Opening General Session – Saturday, July 7, General session – Sunday, July 8, Banquet

We have an announcement from Loretta Green and Isaiah Nelson.  “the NFB of SC is planning a charter bus trip to the Jernigan Institute  (our national headquarters) in Baltimore, Maryland the weekend of April 6-8.  The cost to ride the charter bus will be $100 per person.  The initial $25 is due by January 6, at the statewide seminar and the remainder of the money is due no later than Friday, February 23 2018.  If you have any questions, regarding this trip you can contact Loretta Green at (843) 276-9649 or Isaiah Nelson at (803) 413-2434.”

2018 promises to be an exciting and busy year in the NFB of SC. It would be great if we could kick off the New Year with a large crowd of enthusiastic federationists at this year’s state wide seminar.  Shelley and I look forward to seeing many of you on Saturday, January 6!

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

Happy New Year to all of you across the state.  This time of year always ushers in the time we hold the annual Statewide Seminar.  This program has grown tremendously over the years.  The origin of the “Seminar” occurred in the 1970’s or some 50 years ago.  Initially the NFB of SC was understandably small but the program grew steadily.  In the early days there were just a handful of federation chapters and the program was not statewide until many years later.  In the beginning we discussed such things as the state constitution and chapter constitutions.  We were new at that time and our leaders across the state needed to understand both the state and chapter constitutions.  We also discussed how to recruit new members.  Today the Statewide Seminar is of course a very important part of our annual programs.

In last week’s Positive Note I talked about my eye surgery at John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore which occurred over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  On Friday, December 29, 2017, Betty became ill, necessitating our rushing her to the hospital for appropriate treatment.  Upon our arrival at the Baptist Hospital Emergency Room, Betty was treated immediately.  After many tests she was diagnosed with a “mini-stroke” and was subsequently hospitalized for two days and nights.  Betty was not released until New Year’s Eve, December 31.  After intensive treatment she now has no physical signs of the mini-stroke.  However, due to her age, extra action is being taken.  For example, as I dictate this Positive Note Tuesday morning, there is a physical therapist in our home working with Betty to ensure her good progress continues.  While I am grateful for all of the treatment she is receiving, it will prevent Betty and me from attending this Saturday’s Statewide Seminar.  I don’t believe I have missed any of these Seminars but Betty’s situation dictates my being very careful.  I will be thinking of all of you this weekend but I know that this Statewide Seminar will be one of the best ever.  Please keep Betty and me in your prayers and let all of us work hard this year to make this the best year the NFB of SC has ever had.

 

Final Thought:  We celebrated our accomplishments over the old year.  We have a clean slate for this new one.  Let’s see if our efforts can exceed our expectations.

Positive Note 1637

December 27, 2017

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1637

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

It is time to begin planning for the 2018 convention of the National Federation of the Blind. We will again meet in Orlando and will once more be staying at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. This will be our last opportunity for a while to enjoy the Rosen hospitality we have come to love and the myriad activities that the Orlando area has to offer. The dates for the 2018 convention are July 3 through July 8.

Our hotel rates are enviably competitive for a resort hotel such as Shingle Creek. For the 2018 convention they are singles and doubles, $88; and for triples and quads, $93. In addition to the room rates there will be a tax, which at present is 12.5 percent. No charge will be made for children under seventeen in the room with parents as long as no extra bed is requested. Please note that the hotel is a no-smoking facility.

For 2018 convention room reservations you can call the hotel at (866) 996-6338 after January 1. You may also write directly to the Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819-9357. The hotel will want a deposit of $100 for each room and will want a credit card number or a personal check. If you use a credit card, the deposit will be charged against your card immediately, just as would be the case with a $100 check. If a reservation is cancelled before Friday, June 1, 2018, half of the deposit will be returned. Otherwise refunds will not be made.

If you have not notified the Federation Center as to whether you are planning to attend the Statewide Seminar on January 6, please do so as soon as possible.  This will help us to determine the amount of food to purchase for lunch.  Remember we will be conducting an auction throughout the day to raise money for the Federation Center.  Be sure to bring items for the auction such as, cakes, pies, cookies, gift baskets, and electronics.  Also, please continue to sell your Orlando National Convention bus tickets.  If you have not done so already, please mail your ticket stubs and money to the Federation Center or bring them with you to the Seminar on Saturday, January 6.  The drawing will take place at the conclusion of the Seminar.  The winning ticket will receive $300, the seller of the winning ticket will receive $100 and the chapter selling the most tickets will receive $300.  It is not too early to begin turning in your state dues of $10 for 2018 to the state office (Federation Center).  You can either mail your dues to the State Office or bring them with you to the Seminar on January 6.  When you submit your dues, please provide current contact information such as, name, address, phone number and email address if applicable.  These things do change and if we do not have updated information, we cannot keep you up to date on what’s going on.  The deadline for dues is January 31, 2018.

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

Now that Christmas is officially over, I suspect that most of us have had a Christmas experience that stands out.  I moved from Mullins to Columbia in 1946 and began receiving treatments by an ophthalmologist.  He was not able to bring my high eye pressure under control and arranged for me to see a prominent ophthalmologist in December of 1950.  This prominent ophthalmologist was Dr. Allen Wood who was connected with Johns Hopkins Hospital.  On December 15, 1950, Betty and I traveled by train to Baltimore for me to receive treatment by this famous ophthalmologist.  As far as I recall, it would be my second trip out of the state as my first trip out of state was for Betty and my honeymoon in June of 1949.  While being examined by Dr. Wood I asked him if the surgery would be serious.  He promptly stated, “Young man, any time you use a knife on a human body it is serious.”  The surgery was serious as the surgery was not successful.  After 15 days of hospital confinement Dr. Wood did a second surgery on or about December 31, 1950.  This surgery also was unsuccessful.  Dr. Wood approached me to authorize a third surgery.  I declined.  We were at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 30 days from December 15, 1950 to January 15, 1951.  Thus Betty and I spent both Christmas and New Year’s in Johns Hopkins Hospital with failure.

1951 was unique as far as my trip to Baltimore would ultimately be connected with the federation.  In that same year, 1951, a baby was born to a couple who would become a super star 65 years later as President of the NFB of SC and Chairman of Rocky Bottom.  Of course, my extensive eye surgery in Baltimore had nothing to do with a baby being born at that time and location that would improve life for the blind, but it is coincidental.  Frank Coppel has our sincere appreciation as he is working virtually full-time as a volunteer and that is unusual in this day and time.  Let me wish for each and every one of you a Happy New Year which is upon us.

 

Final Thought:  This past year is for review and to learn from, the upcoming New Year is to plan for and to set goals; however, now is the only time we have to accomplish anything.

Positive Note 1636

December 20, 2017

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1636

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

During this past week, Shelley and I have been extremely busy as we have traveled approximately 500 miles attending Chapter Christmas parties throughout the state.  On Tuesday, evening, December 12, Shelley and I had the pleasure of attending the 44th Annual Christmas Banquet Gala hosted by the Sumter Chapter.  Approximately 400 people attended this year’s banquet and Debra Canty, President of the Sumter chapter again did an excellent job presiding over the festivities.  The program for the evening was extremely impressive as Doug Hudson and Sarah Massengale provided the musical entertainment and Shawn Callaway, National board member of the NFB and President of the District of Columbia affiliate of the NFB was the key note speaker for the evening.  I was honored to introduce Mr. Callaway to the audience.  Also in attendance was Ed Bible, NFB of SC state board member and his wife Julie and Linda Dizzley, NFB  of SC state board member and President of the Lee County Chapter.

On Thursday evening, December 14, Shelley and I traveled to Gaffney to attend the Cherokee County chapter Christmas party.  Approximately 20 people were in attendance and it is very evident Jamie Allison, chapter President, is doing an excellent job.  The party was held at the Colonial Fish Camp and everyone enjoyed delicious seafood and participated in a gift exchange.  On Friday December 15, we traveled to Jefferson, SC where we attended the Chesterfield County Chapter Christmas luncheon.  Approximately 25 people were in attendance for the luncheon and it was very evident Dorcas Campbell, Chapter President, is doing an outstanding job.  The chapter treated everyone to a delicious barbecue feast and everyone enjoyed singing a number of Christmas carols. It was also great to see the First vice President of the NFB of SC, Lenora Robertson, her daughter, Ellen Taylor, and Louise Watson at the meeting as well.

We have an announcement from Shelley Coppel, President of the Seniors Division.  “Merry Christmas from the Senior Division!!  We are conducting a drawing to be held at our Statewide Seminar, January 6, 2018.  For all of you who have taken tickets to sell, I encourage you to continue selling and please bring your money and the ticket stubs to me the day of the Seminar.  Please also bring me your unsold tickets. If you need tickets to sell, you can contact me by phone at: 803-796-8662; or by email:  Frankandshelley51@gmail.com.

The price for the tickets is: $2 for one ticket, and $5 for three.  The prizes are as follows: First prize- a power air-fryer XL, and 2nd prize is a $50 gift card for Walmart.  Thank you so much for supporting our Senior Division.”

The Christmas season is a very beautiful and special time of the year.  I especially enjoy listening to Christmas music, being with family and friends, eating wonderful food, and watching our four grandchildren opening their gifts on Christmas morning.  Shelley and I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and let’s all of us remember the “Reason for the Season”.

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

Christmas events are being held all over the state in the federation.  The NFB of SC which did not become a state affiliate until 1956 is responsible for Christmas parties taking place statewide.  For example in only recent years, our Chesterfield County Chapter and the Upper Dorchester County Chapter have had Christmas parties as reorganized chapters in these areas, bringing the blind together.  The Columbia Chapter has been sponsoring Christmas parties since the mid 1950’s and has come to be held at the Federation Center of the Blind which became available in 1961, over 50 years ago.  On December 14 the Columbia Chapter enjoyed an outstanding Christmas party featuring one of the best banquets than I’ve ever seen before.  It featured ham, chicken, dressing, string beans, rice, cabbage and a variety of cakes and pies and desserts.  There were a lot of different foods to choose from as chapter members brought their own food plates.  David Houck brought the Christmas message which was excellent.  All of us were stunned to hear from Columbia Chapter President Tiffiny Mitchell who reported that one week earlier she lost everything due to smoke damage.  She woke up at 2:00 in the morning with her building engulfed in smoke and fire.  We are thankful Tiffiny was able to get out of the building without injury.  The chapter wanted to be of service to Tiffiny and the freewill offering of a significant amount was contributed to her by the members.  During the past several decades members have unfortunately experienced fires.  Having suffered this great loss I believe Tiffiny will be most appreciative of this assistance.  This is especially true since we are in the midst of giving during the Christmas season.  I’m sure Tiffiny will appreciate any amount contributed, large or small.  In the past, when similar circumstances occurred, we encouraged chapters statewide to make checks payable to the “NFB of SC”, earmarked for the “Tiffiny Mitchell fire fund.”  Please make out your check and send it to David Houck at the Federation Center of the Blind, 119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205, who will arrange for Tiffiny Mitchell to receive the assistance.  Throughout all of this Tiffiny has continued to operate her vending facility demonstrating her commitment and dedication, not only to her vending facility but also to the Columbia Chapter during a very busy time.  Tiffiny is not only committed to the presidency of the Columbia Chapter but was also elected to the NFB of SC state board at the recent NFB of SC state convention for her service.  I’m sure all of you will understand and participate in uplifting Tiffiny, especially during this special season.  Let me wish for each and every one of you a very merry Christmas.

 

Final Thought:  “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens

Positive Note 1635

December 13, 2017

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1635

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

By now all of you should have received your Statewide Seminar Letter.  Please fill out the form at the end of the Statewide Seminar letter and return it to the State Office as soon as possible.  You can also call the State Office at (803) 254-3777 and let us know if you are planning to attend the Statewide Seminar on January 6, 2018.  Please notify the State Office of your intentions in order that we may have an accurate count for the luncheon which will be free of charge.  Remember we will be conducting an auction throughout the day to raise money for the Federation Center.  Be sure to bring items for the auction such as, cakes, pies, cookies, gift baskets, and electronics.  Also, please continue to sell your Orlando National Convention bus tickets.  You can either mail your ticket stubs and money to the Federation Center or bring them with you to the Seminar on Saturday, January 6.  The drawing will take place at the conclusion of the Seminar.  The winning ticket will receive $300, the seller of the winning ticket will receive $100 and the chapter selling the most tickets will receive $300.

It is not too early to begin submitting your state dues of $10 for 2018 to the state office.  Remember that we need to have your name, address, phone number and email address if applicable.  This information does change from time to time and if we do not have updated information, we cannot keep you up to date on what’s going on.  The deadline for dues is January 31, 2018, so why wait!

We have an announcement from Joe Ruffalo, President of the NFB of New Jersey.  “The National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey’s technology division is proud to present our fourth   nationwide technology seminar featuring Marty Schultz and his Blindfold Games and more on Monday, December 18 at 8 PM.

Marty Schultz, owner of Blindfold Games, will tell us all about his apps that are made accessible for blind and visually impaired users on their favorite iOS powered devices such as an iPhone, iPad, or an iPod Touch. To learn more about Blindfold Games, please visit www.blindfoldgames.org.

To attend the call, dial 515-604-9570, then use access code 612068 pound. You will hear the code you entered repeated. Press 1 if it is correct. Press 2 to re-enter it. If you press 1, you then announce yourself by stating your name and you will then be entered into the conference call.

In order to obtain the best possible sound for the call, the host will put all callers into mute mode until the Q and A portion of the call. You will be able to hear everything during the call but background noise from your location will not disturb others listening in on the conversation. During the Q and A portion of the call, you can unmute yourself by pressing star 6. Before giving a comment or asking a question, please announce your name and what state you are from, and then wait for the moderator to recognize you before speaking. We can have too many people trying to seek the floor at one time and chaos can occur. The moderators will do their very best to recognize as many callers as possible however, they will determine the order in which speakers proceed. When finished with your comments or questions, press star 6 again to go back into “mute” mode to facilitate better, uncluttered communication for everyone. Star 6 also works when you have your phone on speaker.”

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

The Christmas season brings out the best in just about everyone.  It is celebrated in different ways.  Each year there is a beautiful 35 foot Christmas fir tree placed in front of the State House steps on Gervais Street.  There are several thousand lights on this unique tree.  Thousands of people enjoy the annual tree lighting ceremony.  This tree represents both the City of Columbia and the state of South Carolina.  There are many Christmas trees beautifully decorated in various communities in Columbia, and of course, other communities statewide enjoy their Christmas decorations.  Last Christmas we attended the “Singing Christmas Tree” here in Columbia at the Shandon Baptist Church.  It was wonderful.  If you haven’t done so, you might consider this production.  It is free of charge.  Shandon Baptist was the first church I attended when I came to Columbia some 70 years ago in 1946.  The church grew rapidly, requiring the construction of a much larger church.  Shandon Baptist is located on Forest Drive.  I am looking forward to our Columbia Chapter meeting this Thursday evening, December 14.  It will feature a wonderful banquet, a Christmas message and an attendance of around 100.  There will also be a gift exchange.  The many things taking place attributes to the many beautiful sites and special programs.  It even snowed four inches over the weekend at Rocky Bottom and it didn’t miss our Christmas Board Retreat by very much.

 

Final Thought:  “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” ― Charles M. Schulz

Positive Note 1634

December 6, 2017

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1634

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

The 38th annual Christmas Board Retreat held at Rocky Bottom this past weekend was extremely busy as many of us participated in two board meetings on Saturday (RBRCCB Board of Directors which was held 9:30 a.m. and the of the Board of Directors of the NFB of SC which was held at 2:00 p.m.).  The 2018 edition of Children’s camp will be held June 9, to June 16.  The dates for the 2018 Senior Camps will be May 20-24 and September 16-20.  Ed Bible, Vice Chairman of the RBRCCB Board of Directors, gave an extensive report regarding the overall operations of the camp.  Mr. Bible stated there has been a great deal of work done regarding the infrastructure of our facilities at Rocky Bottom such as repairing the septic tank, pump, termite damage in Osterneck and other repairs.  Mr. Bible also thanked the individuals, church groups, and civic organizations who have volunteered their services in the area of building and ground maintenance during the past eight months at Rocky Bottom.  The board also had a thorough discussion regarding the rental fees for the sighted public as well as the reservation or processing fees we are currently charging at Rocky Bottom.  The board voted unanimously to increase rental and processing fees beginning January 1, 2018.  A thorough explanation of the increases will be discussed at the Statewide Seminar on January 6.  The board discussed the 2017 Fun Day Festival and ideas as to how we can significantly improve the overall proceeds for the camp.  The Board also agreed that the Fund Raising Committee consisting of Jennifer Bazer, Ed Bible, Valerie Warrington, Linda Bible, and Debra Canty will start planning for this event in January and the committee will update their progress to the board at the Spring meeting.    During the NFB of SC State Board meeting, a variety of topics were discussed.  The Board heard a report from Debra Canty, Chairperson of the Fund Raising Committee who reported the third annual Sweetheart Dance will be held on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at the Federation Center of the Blind.  All proceeds raised from the dance will be given to the NFB of SC.  Jamie Allison, Chairperson of the Youth Recruitment Committee discussed with the board the various strategies her committee was considering to attract families of blind children and younger individuals to the NFB of SC.  Ms. Allison reported her committee has discussed the possibility of hosting a virtual youth Rally during the first quarter of 2018 and establishing a mentoring program which hopefully will start in the very near future.  David Houck, Federation Center of the Blind Director, gave an excellent report.  Mr. Houck reported the Federation Center continues to be financially sound and that the Center is looking to expand its assistive technology training programs.  The Washington Seminar was discussed and will begin on Sunday, January 28, 2018 with the “great gathering in” meeting being held on Monday, January 29, at 5:00 p.m.  Room rates for the Washington Seminar are $192 per night plus a 14.5 percent room tax.  Please call the Holiday Inn Capitol at (877) 572-6951 and referencing booking code FB8 to make your reservation.  All reservations must be made by December 28.  If you wish to attend or have questions regarding the Washington Seminar, please call me at (803) 796-8662.  I want to take this opportunity to especially thank Lenora Robertson and her “food crew” for all of their hard work preparing the delicious meals throughout the weekend.  I also would like to thank each of you who attended Rocky Bottom this weekend for making the Christmas Board Retreat an extremely enjoyable and pleasant experience for Shelley and myself.

We have an announcement from Loretta Green and Isaiah Nelson.  “The NFB of SC is planning a charter bus trip to the Jernigan Institute (our national headquarters) in Baltimore, Maryland the weekend of April 6-8.  The cost to ride the charter bus will be $100 per person.  The initial $25 is due by January 6, at the statewide seminar and the remainder of the money is due no later than Friday, February 23 2018.  If you have any questions, regarding this trip you can contact Loretta Green at (843) 276-9649 or Isaiah Nelson at (803) 413-2434.”

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

I have been attending Christmas Board Retreats at RBRCCB for several decades and I can vouch in telling you that this Board Retreat was the best or near the best of all of them.  It was apparent that the 40 members from across the state were in great spirits and having a wonderful time.  I attended all of the RBRCCB board meeting as well as the NFB of SC board meeting.  President Frank Coppel had prepared for the board meetings, providing excellent planning apparent.  At the RBRCCB board meeting the board increased the rentals for the facilities as there had not been any increase for more than a decade.  There was considerable discussion about planning for the 2018 Fun Day Festival.  This is a major event for RBRCCB and our best effort statewide is essential if we are going to improve on our net profits.  We talked about a variety of things affecting Fun Day and encouraged greater participation including Fun Day ticket sales and food donations.  The board meeting of the NFB of SC was held Saturday afternoon following the luncheon.  As always, Lenora Robertson and her kitchen crew did an excellent job on all meals featuring an excellent Christmas banquet.  I’m pleased that the board recognizes the advantages of the convention being held in Columbia because of its central location.  President Coppel is handling this important issue.  It appears that we will have an excellent delegation for the annual Washington Seminar.  I’m sure we will be represented well.  The Christmas banquet was delightful with high spirits.  We were glad to welcome our Advisory Board Chairman, Mr. John Sarpy and his lovely wife Linda.  He made some brief comments to the gathering.  As always, David Houck, Executive Director of the Federation Center of the Blind, brought the Christmas message on Luke chapter 2.  This was followed by group singing including the “12 Days of Christmas” which was not performed with excellence.  It was fun, however.  This was followed by the distribution of gifts.  Then there was the partaking of a variety of desserts which everyone enjoyed.  Everyone departed Sunday morning and returned home safely.  It would be difficult to top this annual Christmas Board Retreat.  Linda Bible, Resident Manager of RBRCCB, was recognized for her excellent job in this role.  Incidentally, Linda advised me that there are now six ducks in the Eddie Mae Lucas Webb Memorial Pond.  JJ, the RBRCCB resident duck, has been very productive as there were only three ducks a few weeks ago.  I want to close this Positive Note by congratulating all of you who attended the Christmas Board Retreat and made this a wonderful event.

 

Final Thought:  “Christmas is the season to kindle the fire of hospitality.” – Washington Irvin

Positive Note 1633

November 28, 2017

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1633

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

We are writing this edition of the Positive Note earlier than usual in order that you may receive it prior to the Christmas Board Retreat which will be held this weekend, December 1, 2, and 3, at Rocky Bottom.  Saturday, December 2, promises to be a very busy day.  We will kick things off Saturday morning with the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind Board of Directors meeting at 9:30, followed by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina Board of Directors meeting which will begin at 2:00 p.m.  We will have our holiday dinner at 6:30 Saturday evening and immediately afterwards we will gather around the Christmas tree and celebrate the Christmas season as we sing carols, exchange gifts, fellowship, and sample a variety of delicious desserts which I am certain many of you are planning to bring.  If you wish to participate in the Christmas gift exchange Saturday evening, ladies will need to bring a ladies’ gift and men will need to bring a men’s gift.  I am asking Julie Bible and Diana Singleton to be responsible for the distribution of the Christmas gifts Saturday evening.  The schedule for meals throughout the weekend are as follows; Saturday morning breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m., lunch at 1:00 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday morning we will have a continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m.

The month of December is a busy time in the NFB of SC as many chapters hold parties to celebrate the Christmas season.  If you would like for me to attend your Christmas party please contact me at (803)796-8662 or you can email me at frankcoppel@att.net and I will try to attend.  At this time, Shelley and I have been invited to the Sumter Christmas banquet On December 12, the Cherokee County Christmas party on December 14, and the Chesterfield County luncheon on December 15.

As we approach the end of 2017, I would like to remind everyone that this is a great time to pay your 2018 state dues of $10.  Article XII of the NFB of SC state Constitution states, “The dues of this organization shall be $10 per year, payable during the month of January.  No person may vote who is delinquent in the payment of his/her dues.”  The dead line for submitting dues is January 31, 2018.

I am sad to report Dr. Dennis Abdella, a longtime friend of the blind passed away Friday morning, November 24.  Dr. Abdella worked at the South Carolina Commission for the Blind for approximately 28 years (1973 until 2001) where he established a horticulture vocational training program and where he was very successful placing blind consumers throughout the state in this field of work.  Dr. Abdella, who was known as “Doc”, by the blind and staff of the Commission of the Blind, was very passionate about his work and was always willing to provide assistance to students even after these students graduated from his program and were placed in employment.  At the 2011 State convention banquet in Columbia, Dennis Abdella was recognized by the NFB of SC for his many years of dedicated service to the blind of South Carolina as he was the recipient of the Distinguish Service Award, the highest award given to a sighted individual outside the organization.  Dr. Abdella was a colleague and a true friend and I along with many other blind individuals will miss him a great deal.

Finally, I hope all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving.  We currently are expecting over forty people to attend the Board Retreat. Remember to check in with our Resident manager, Linda Bible, for your room assignment Friday evening.  I look forward to seeing many of you this weekend and celebrating the Christmas season at Rocky Bottom with my federation family.

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we turn our attention to the Christmas season.  In the Federation, we think of the annual Christmas Board Retreat as the official beginning of the Christmas season.  According to President Coppel there will be about a 40 member Federation family at the Christmas Board Retreat meeting.  Federationists from across the state will be attending.  We are fortunate in having our own facilities to handle both rooms and food service because of dedicated members.  Our first Christmas Board Retreat was in December of 1980 as that was the time Osterneck Cottage was completed for use.  The next overnight accommodation was the Oglesby Cottage.  That is a good story arising out of the construction of the Oglesby Cottage.  In the Federation it is our policy to go out of our way to treat each other with the utmost respect and understanding.  The following is a perfect case.  The 1983 state convention was held in Columbia.  Bob Oglesby was a longtime NFB of SC leader and served in high offices.  He was a candidate for First Vice President at the 1983 convention but fell slightly short of victory.  He was so disappointed that his wife Pearl told me that as soon as he arrived back home in Spartanburg he went immediately to bed.  Pending his extreme reaction I attempted to do something to encourage him and at the same time help the Federation.  I managed to get a speaking engagement at a Spartanburg Chapter meeting and told the Spartanburg Chapter members that if they would vote to give $5,000 toward the construction of the cottage, we would name it the Robert Lee Oglesby Cottage.  They voted unanimously to do so.  Bob was so pleased that he secured thousands of dollars of construction materials which assisted us in Oglesby Cottage being built.  Thus, this was the successful beginning of this much appreciated mountain chalet.  The use of this facility is still popular.  Seven years later in July of 1991 we celebrated the dedication of the Conference Center.  During its construction an associate member in the Upstate questioned the wisdom of building the Conference Center.  I assured her it would ultimately be of great use to this program.  Oddly enough this same party wanted the job as Executive Director but understandably her request was declined.  This week we will be celebrating the 26th annual Christmas Board Retreat in the Conference Center.  Not only are the blind utilizing these facilities but different groups are also enjoying its use.  We’re thankful in having our own excellent facilities.  I haven’t missed a Christmas Board Retreat since its beginning and I trust that I will be present this weekend.

 

Final Thought:  As Christmas approaches we share the season’s greetings with many others including federationists, family and friends.

Positive Note 1632

November 21, 2017

Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others

From:  Frank Coppel, President

Positive Note 1632

Greetings Fellow Federationists:

 

It appears we will have a good turnout for the 2017 Christmas Board Retreat which will be held at Rocky Bottom the weekend of December 1, 2, and 3.  On your arrival to Rocky Bottom Friday evening December 1, please stop by the Resident Manager’s apartment and Linda Bible will notify you of your room assignment for the weekend.  We will do all we can to provide comfortable sleeping accommodations for everyone, however, we are expecting over forty individuals for the weekend and therefore, all of us need to be understanding and demonstrate a spirit of good will during the brief time we will be at Rocky Bottom.  Breakfast on Saturday morning, December 2, will be served at 8:30, lunch at 1:00 p.m., and the Christmas dinner at 6:30 p.m.  On Sunday morning, December 3, breakfast will be served at 8:00.  Remember, if you wish to participate in the Christmas gift exchange Saturday evening, ladies will need to bring a ladies’ gift and men will need to bring a men’s gift.  The cost of the Christmas gift should be a minimum of $10.  Also, please remember to bring bake goods such as cakes and cookies so that we have a large variety of Christmas desserts to sample during our Christmas festivities Saturday evening.

We have an announcement from Steve Cook, President of the Computer Science and Technology Division.  “The Computer Science and Technology Division of the NFB of SC will hold a drawing at the Statewide Seminar on January 6, 2018.  We are drawing for an Amazon Echo Dot.  This is a personal assistant device that allows you to speak commands, and the Dot, commonly called Alexa, will answer questions, set timers or alarms, can give you requested information, play music, and much more.  Tickets are a donation of only $2 each or 3 tickets for $5!  We will be selling between now and the seminar.  You may contact Steve Cook, CSTD president at (803) 254-0222, or (803) 260-1292 for more information or to purchase your tickets.  Good luck!”

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.  Let’s take a few minutes Thursday to reflect and give thanks for our families, our country, and to our organization, the National Federation of the Blind, which is working very hard to improve the quality of life of blind people.

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.  Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.  You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.  Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.  Here is Dr. Capps.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you across the state.  The Federation played a key role in my observance of different Thanksgivings.  The first Thanksgiving I actually remember attending was observed by me at the School for the Blind in 1939.  This was good and bad for me.  In those days the School closed down for the most part with only a few students remaining who lived a distance from the School who were not able to go home.   A couple of my fellow students were nice enough to invite me to their home during Thanksgiving – the late Tommy Ingle being one of them.  Tommy’s parents lived in Greenville and it was an easy drive for them to go to the School and get Tommy and myself.  I lived in Mullins in the off season and this was a long distance to the School, requiring me to stay with a handful of students who were like myself.  I began attending Thanksgivings in the late 1950’s at the Columbia Chapter.  I recall the Columbia Chapter sponsoring a Thanksgiving dinner at a Columbia restaurant on Two Notch Road.  The first Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Federation Center in 1961.  The Center had just been dedicated a month earlier on October 15.  The late Connie Jumper and Rev. Ken Jumper were members of the Columbia Chapter.  For more than a decade now, Rev. Ken Jumper and his church, “The Church of the Harvest,” has been sponsoring a Thanksgiving dinner at the Federation Center.  The ladies of the church cooked the food and served it as well at the Center.  Not too long after the Center was dedicated there was a program enabling churches in the Columbia area to deliver food baskets to the blind and Betty and I distributed these baskets for many years with the blind being very appreciative.  I attended my first national board Thanksgiving dinner in Berkley, California hosted by the NFB Founder, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek in about 1960 with my having been elected to the national board in July of 1959.  Thanksgiving would soon affect my responsibility to be present for NFB board meetings.  By this time our two children, Craig and Beth had been born, Craig in 1955 and Beth in 1958.  It was hard for us to leave the children but we had been fortunate in securing two wonderful retired ladies known as Aunt Lela and Aunt Mattie.  These wonderful ladies lived in the Olympia section of Columbia with one living reasonably close to the Center.  When we attended national board meetings we could always count on Aunt Leia and Aunt Mattie as they were very good with the children.  When Dr. tenBroek died in March of 1968, the 1968 convention was held in Des Moines where Dr. Jernigan headed up the Iowa Commission for the Blind.  General meetings were hosted at the Iowa Commission for the Blind and NFB board meetings were held at the NFB headquarters.  Overnight accommodations were handled at hotels in the general area.  In 1978 Dr. Jernigan, after serving the Iowa Commission for the Blind for 20 years, moved to Baltimore where he established the National Center for the Blind.  I attended national board meetings for some 35 years from 1978 to 2011.  By this time I was now in my 70’s and time for retirement from my board responsibilities for the most part.  My Thanksgiving meetings were meaningful.  I am blessed to have been able to participate in many federation functions.  I hope that your Thanksgiving service this week is meaningful as well.

 

Final Thought:  People list things they do not discuss with family during Thanksgiving.  Spend Thanksgiving counting your blessings and giving thanks to God for his mercy and grace.

Positive Note 1631

November 15, 2017
Memo To:  Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others
From:  Frank Coppel, President
Positive Note 1631
Greetings Fellow Federationists:

We still have not heard from some of you as to whether you are planning to attend the 2017 Christmas Board Retreat which will be held at Rocky Bottom December 1, 2, and 3.
This will be a busy time since we will be holding two Board meetings beginning with the RBRCCB Board of Directors meeting Saturday morning, December 2, at 9:30 a.m. which will be followed by the NFB of SC Board of Directors meeting on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday evening will be a time for observing the Christmas season, as we sing Christmas carols, fellowship, and sample delicious desserts.
If you wish to participate in the Christmas gift exchange Saturday evening, ladies will need to bring a ladies’ gift and men will need to bring a men’s gift.
The cost of the Christmas gift should be a minimum of $10.
I hope we will have a large turnout for the weekend.
Make plans to be there!

I am very sad to report Jerry Whittle, a longtime leader of the National Federation of the blind passed away Friday, November 10, in Ruston Louisiana.
Jerry began his Federation journey in South Carolina while he was a student at Clemson University during the late 1970’s.
My first wife, Gail, and I became acquainted with Jerry in 1979 at a Student Division meeting in Columbia at the Federation Center.
We became friends and worked closely together on a number of local and state Federation activities.
Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to speak to Jerry at NFB national conventions and I have enjoyed attending many of his plays performed by the students from the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
I was very excited for Jerry and his wife, Marilyn, when they received the 2016 Jacobus tenBroek Award from Dr. Maurer during the NFB banquet in recognition of their outstanding work in the field of blindness and their continued desire to encourage blind people “to live the life they want”.
There are many other memories I could share regarding Jerry, however, I will conclude my portion of the Positive Note by saying Jerry Whittle was a friend and a colleague who believed very strongly in the potential and abilities of his fellow blind and who worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life of blind people.

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future.
Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.
You can live the life you want:  blindness is not what holds you back.
Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC.
Here is Dr. Capps.

I was in real shock to be notified by our good friend Marshall Tucker of the death of Jerry Whittle, age 70, occurring last Friday, November 10.
It’s my understanding his sudden death was due to an eruption of a cerebral aneurism.
He and his wife Merilynn were residing in Ruston, Louisiana at the time of his death.
It’s my understanding Jerry had been retired just a short while ago.
We first met Jerry in the late 1970’s when we were attempting to organize a chapter in the Oconee County area.
A dinner meeting was held in Westminster on December 3, 1977 and Jerry was in attendance.
Not only was he present for the dinner meeting, he wound up being elected President.
Prior to this dinner meeting, I had talked with Jerry about his discouragement concerning his blindness.
He soon snapped out of his discouragement to become a federationist for life.
He was in the federation for 40 years from December 1977 to November 2017.
Jerry loved Rocky Bottom having served as the first voluntary caretaker in 1979.
He used room 5 in Osterneck Cottage which became known as the Oconee Room.
Demonstrating his acting skills, he participated in the “Glass Menagerie” written by Tennessee Williams, which was performed by an all blind cast in the historic Dr. Samuel Miller Lawton Hall.
A happy incident occurred involving Jerry when he accidentally got two inches too close to the edge of the stage, but he hopped up so quickly I hardly noticed the difference.
Jerry worked at the Federation Center a short while but recognizing the need for a maximum education, he graduated from Clemson University and subsequently received his Masters from the University of Tennessee.
By that time Jerry had many successful blind acquaintances including Joanne Wilson who headed the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
It was these contacts which would mold the highly successful career for Jerry.
He also became the First Vice President of the NFB of Louisiana.
He wrote a play which was performed at the NFB national convention which provided much needed funding.
Jerry was known nationally for his federation activity.
He would go on to be the recipient of the highest NFB award at the 2016 NFB convention banquet, the Jacobus tenBroek Award.
As he often did, he gave credit to others, whereas it was apparent he was primarily responsible for their success.
Even during the presentation of the Jacobus tenBroek Award at the NFB convention in 2016, Jerry gave credit to others including myself.
We are very appreciative of this incident.
While we certainly will muss Jerry, he had been a beloved figure to his friends nationally.
We extend condolences to his lovely wife Merilynn who was always at his side.

 

Final Thought:  Be thankful for being able to live the life you want because of the Federation which laid the groundwork since 1944.

 

OBITUARY-Jerry Whittle
Jerry Whittle was born on January 10, 1947 in Seneca, South Carolina, and passed away on November 10, 2017 surrounded by family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Delzie Cleo McGuffin Whittle and Ambus “Pat” Whittle; his sister, Patsy Louise Whittle; and by his first wife, Karin Winkle Whittle.

He is survived by his dear wife Merilynn Whittle; daughter Christina Ann Richardson Pedro and spouse John Pedro II; son John Bee Richardson and spouse Laurie Ann Lusk ; grandchildren Xavier Pedro, Giana Pedro, Tessa Boyle, Jonathan Richardson, and Sara Elizabeth Richardson; several great-grandchildren; nephews and niece Roger “Dale” Chrisley, Danus Chrisley, Marilyn Jane “Janie” Chrisley Davis; brother-in-law Miles “Smoky” Chrisley; cousins Mary Venaas, Joan Dunlap, Jimmy Powell, Wayne Powell, Ronnie Phillips, and many others; and the countless students to whom he served as a mentor and father figure.

Mr. Whittle was a proud graduate of Clemson University, where he earned a degree in English, and from the University of Tennessee in Knoxsville where he earned a master’s degree in Creative Writing.
While he held various oc’cup’ations throughout his lifetime, his passion for language and literacy led him to teach braille at the Louisiana Center for the Blind for over three decades.
He worked with over 1,000 students, giving them the gift of braille literacy, and taught countless teachers and blindness professionals that braille literacy is a key for success for blind children and adults.
Through his work in the National Federation of the Blind, Mr. Whittle was also able to transform countless other lives and serve in many leadership positions, both in Louisiana and nationally.
His signature sense of humor, his willingness to share his life experiences, and his ability to establish genuine connections with people from all walks of life positioned him as an icon in the blind community.

Jerry loved baseball, gardening, reading, writing, and bluegrass.
He often persuaded Merilynn to bake him cornbread or apple pie, two of his favorites.
He was an engaging public speaker, a gifted braille teacher, a prolific author and playwright, a loyal friend, and a deeply faithful Christian.
Yet, the essence of his life is only partially captured by these qualities.
The life that Jerry Whittle led was one of sacrifice, service, and spirit.
With his incomparable wit, and his unwavering devotion to the people that he loved, the influence that Jerry Whittle has had on this world will undoubtedly ring energetically for generations to come.

The writings of William Faulkner always remained close to Mr. Whittle’s heart. “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” With these words from his beloved author, we begin to say good-bye to our teacher, mentor, and friend.
Beyond this, these words remind us to live with the courage and determination that Mr. Whittle both embodied and challenged each of us to achieve in our own lives.

Visitation is on Monday, November 13, 2017, from 5:00-7:00 pm at Kilpatrick Funeral Home in Ruston, Louisiana.
A second visitation and burial will be held in South Carolina, with visitation and services held at Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home in Central, South Carolina.
Visitation will be from 5:00 – 7:00pm on November 18th and again on November 19th from 1:00-2:00pm.
The funeral services will be held at 2:00pm on November 19th.
He will be buried at Memory Gardens in Clemson, South Carolina.

In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to the Buddy Program of the Louisiana Center for the Blind at www.louisianacenter.org.