We honor here members, friends and supporters of the American Council of the Blind who have impacted our lives in many wonderful ways. If you would like to submit a notice for this column, please include as much of the following information as possible.
Name (first, last, maiden if appropriate)
City of residence (upon passing)
State/province of residence (upon passing)
Other cities/states/countries of residence (places where other blind people may have known this person)
Date of death (day if known, month, year)
ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)
Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.
Denise Marie Decker
March 9, 1949 – November 4, 2020
Long-time friend and change-agent, Denise Decker, passed away on November 4, 2020. Denise was a member of the Partners International Board of Directors and a member of our District of Columbia and Virginia chapters. Denise began her work with Partners of the Americas in the 1980s when she was a disaster assistance officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). She then held an international fellowship with Partners in which she wrote and implemented workshops to teach independent living skills to people with disabilities living in Brasilia, Brazil. Partners then went on to use her workshop in eight other Latin American countries and awarded Dr. Decker the Program Development Award for her hard work and stunning contributions.
Contributions in honor of Denise may be sent to: American Council of the Blind, c/o Audio Description Project, 6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 155, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430. Be sure to put Denise Decker Memorial in the note field.
Patricia “Pat” McEnroe
Feb. 14, 1938 – Oct. 15, 2020
Patricia “Pat” McEnroe, 82, of Owensboro, Ky., died on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. She was born on Feb. 14, 1938, in Bloomington, Ind., to the late Lester and Elizabeth Hughbanks.
Pat graduated from Lexington’s Henry Clay High School, and Western Kentucky University, with a degree in physical education. She taught health and physical education for 30 plus years at Owensboro High School and also loved being the coach for the cheerleading squad. As a member of Christ Community Church, Pat enjoyed singing praise and worship songs and looked forward each week to Bible study and monthly meetings with her blind group.
Whenever possible, traveling was a great adventure; she visited more than 50 countries in her lifetime. Her favorite trip was to South Africa with Jim. She held numerous positions in the Women’s Republican Group of Owensboro. Pat loved her morning read of “Red and Rover” and her favorite “Mutts.” There was not an animal that she did not like. She never met a stranger, was very personable, and loved to write and receive letters. She turned her radio on first thing in the morning to listen to the oldies, and her television only worked on one station, Fox News.
Besides sharing a special love with her husband, Richard, for 36 years, Pat adored all her poodles, especially Candy and Taffy.
Pat was preceded in death by her stepmother, Nettie Hughbanks, and her husband, Richard “Dick” McEnroe. She is survived by her brother, Dr. James Hughbanks (Mickie); brother-in-law, Terry McEnroe (Brenda); nephews, Tim McEnroe (Courtney), Tom McEnroe (MaKenzie), Clarke Hughbanks (Sheila), and Bryant Franklin (Laura).
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Tim McEnroe Scholarship Fund or the Humane Society. Online messages of condolence may be made at www.davisfuneralhome.com.
Gary Francis Patterson
Sept. 15, 1944 - Nov. 16, 2020
Gary Francis Patterson passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 16, 2020 following a fall at his home in Des Moines, Iowa. Gary was born with congenital glaucoma and aniridia in San Diego on September 15, 1944 to Frances and Walter Lampkin. At the end of World War II, Frances moved back to Wichita Falls, Tex., raising Gary until her marriage to Wayne O. Patterson in 1948.
Gary endured multiple surgeries on his eyes to relieve pressure from the glaucoma before age 3, eliminating the need to remove his eyes until he was an adult. At the age of 5, Gary was enrolled as a live-in student at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. The rest of his immediate family moved to Austin in 1952. He was a member of the wrestling team and the track team while in high school, and was fluent in Spanish. He graduated as valedictorian in 1962. He then worked for four years as a piano tuner for San Antonio Music Company before attending Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State in San Marcos) for a year before transferring to the University of Texas in Austin.
He married and moved to Des Moines, Iowa, finishing his degree from Iowa State University in Ames with a major in math and minor in computer science. He worked for 33 years for American Republic Life Insurance Company in Des Moines as a computer programmer. Gary had a subtle sense of humor. Once, when his mother came for a visit, Gary reserved her a rental car and insisted on going in to pick up the car. It was regrettable that he was unable to see the clerk’s reaction to the blind man standing at the counter waiting to pick up his rental car!
He continued his interest in computers until his death, utilizing new inventions for the visually impaired – a bar code reader, color identifier (so he could “see” the colors of his clothes), tabletop camera which fed to his laptop to “read” labels, and various voice synthesizing devices and mechanical reading devices. He was adamant and active in efforts regarding the retention and teaching of braille for the visually handicapped.
For many years, Gary worked in the communication center at the American Council of the Blind’s national conventions, keeping the braille embossers running, often into the wee hours of the morning. By listening, he could tell which embosser was nearly out of paper and which was about to go haywire. He was a regular member of the communication center’s late-night crew in the ‘90s and 2000s, and could burst, collate and staple the convention newspapers faster than many people.
He enjoyed woodworking, Sudoku, reading and cooking, especially Mexican food. He had an affinity for mathematics and had a voracious interest in money management and financial news. He was raised to be independent, overcoming many challenges from his lack of sight, and he traveled extensively. He toured the Baltic Sea countries and England by himself.
Gary is survived by a daughter, Antoinette E. Smith, of Cypress, Tex.; a son, John Patterson of Des Moines, Iowa; and four grandchildren, Theodore and Maxwell Smith and Riley and Willow Patterson. He is also survived by a sister, Ann M. Patterson of Denton, Tex., as well as numerous cousins in Michigan and Texas.