Sunday, January 11, 2009

Darrow Hozian

(Photo Description: Darrow smiling at the camera. Note the red bandanna he has on his left arm at the bottom of the picture; the bandannas served as our Action Team "colors" at last year's disability rights/independent living conference.)

I first met Darrow Hozian at the office of the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois. I had just been hired and a major part of my duties was to write, publish and mail "The Catalyst", our monthly newsletter. When my first issue was completed and the printer delivered them to the CCDI office to mail to our membership, I had no idea what to do.

Luckily, for me, Darrow and his long time partner Janice Faulstich, had volunteered to do CCDI’s mass mailings a long time before me. They knew what to do. They knew how to sort the 1800 addresses by zip code and which zip codes went in rubber bands with which other. I was so glad to be working with them. It wasn't all that easy either.

Both Darrow and Janice had Cerebral Palsy; I had a hard time understanding what they were saying. Sometimes, they would get as frustrated with me as I would be frustrated with myself. But, we worked well together for two years and liked and respected each other. The Coalition office isn’t the same since Darrow and Janice no longer volunteer their labor there.

Darrow was an individual of tremendous strength and good will. He and Janice’s phone number were at the top of many people with disabilities phone list. If someone's personal assistant didn't show up or someone needed additional help, Darrow was there. If he wasn't Janice was.

Last week we heard from Janice that Darrow was in Intensive Care. This was the second time in the last several months Darrow was admitted to the ICU. I guess we were in denial. It was difficult to imagine someone of Darrow’s strength life being threatened.

On Friday, January 9, Janice got off the elevator at the ICU and knew that Darrow had passed.

Darrow and Janice; it is hard to say one name without the other. But, each has their own identity. They agreed on many things but, like all couples, had their disagreements too. Janice is looking forward to returning home and volunteer for even more tasks. She might even look for a job.

JoAnn Bayer and Darrow Hozian both died in the first two weeks of the New Year. How sad for all of us whose lives have been touched by them. How sad for the Disability Rights Movement to lose two of our shining stars. How important it is for the rest of us to do our best to find dozens of replacements for each leader we have lost.

Cilla (BigNoise) also wrote about Darrow today. You can read her column here.


Jessica Hayes said...

Thanks Mike - another wondeful tribute.

Rhonda said...

Thank you Mike.
Rhonda, CCDI