5.24.45 – 7.27.13
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July 27, 2013 marks the end of an Era. It is the day the Disability Movement lost its “Queen of IL,” Linda Gonzales, the Mother of APRIL. We are heartbroken. Blessings to your family in this time of grief.
Words cannot express what she meant to so many of us. She will remain a symbol of strength and resolve... always hopeful and always loving. She cared deeply about the rights of all people with disabilities and dedicated her entire adult life to empowering us. Life will be dimmer now. The world is missing a very bright light that shone for equality, inclusion and accessibility.
The impact that Linda had on Rural Independent Living is evident in Federal Laws that have been enacted, in language we have come to rely on and in rules we have come to live by. Her impact threads together the Rural fabric that is the IL Movement. It can be felt every year, in every APRIL Conference. Her legacy lives on through the Linda Gonzales Award for Outstanding Rural Youth. We will march forward in your footsteps. We will never let the torch you lit burn out.
You are soaring now, up high like an Eagle. And it suits you. Our dear, dear friend... We love you. We will miss you always.
In lieu of flowers or cards: Linda’s husband, Jerry, has asked APRIL to coordinate the collection of monetary support. The costs are many and any contribution will be most helpful.
Please send donations to:
2001 Pershing Circle, Ste. 200
North Little Rock, AR 72114
*Call the APRIL office at 501-753-3400 if you wish to use a credit card.
Linda Gonzales: Helping Rural CILs Drives Her
She’s a braniac with gorgeous blonde hair and deep red lipstick. In these, her middle-age years, she still can turn heads. She is well dressed and moves through the world in her power chair. Linda Gonzales is also softspoken -- more of a doer than a self-promoter.
Gonzales is a leader who likes to anticipate issues. She sees problems coming and offers answers. She has been looking at the potential funding crisis for centers for independent living (CILs) and is primed to find solutions. She writes a blog for the Independent Living Research Utilization New Community Opportunities Center in Houston, Texas, that focuses on CILs. If your CIL wants to shore up its funding base because of recent or impending budget cuts, she’s got the time and inclination to help you execute workable plans that focus on local resources and community foundations as well as more traditional state and federal opportunities.
In national disability rights history, Gonzales is to rural independent living what Ed Roberts was to urban independent living: its founder. As director of the Association of Programs for Independent Living (APRIL), she got the organization on a firm footing and was the driving force behind its reputation as an innovator.
Gonzales became involved in the disability rights movement as a consequence of graduate school. She graduated in 1981 with a master of arts in education, educational psychology, and guidance counseling from California State University at Northridge, Calif. She had been working on her thesis on the psychosocial needs of people with muscular dystrophy at the same time as her own MD was worsening.
“For many years, I had a diagnosis and a hidden disability,” she said. “The last twenty years, it moved to the lower part of my body, and I eventually ended up using a reclining power chair.” In order to conduct research for her thesis, she attended the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s summer camps. She could have attended as a camper or an assistant.