Passings

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)

Occupation

Date of death (day if known, month, year)

Age

ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)

Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.

** HEBERT, PHILLIP

Phillip Hebert, age 52, of Nashville, Tenn., unexpectedly passed away in early August in his home; the exact time and cause are unknown. He was a long-time member of the Mid Tennessee Council of the Blind (MTCB), the Tennessee Council of the Blind, and the American Council of the Blind. Phillip was an alumnus of the Tennessee School for the Blind and a member of the Donelson Lions Club. He lived a very full life, attending many MTCB social events, meetings, and state conventions.

A celebration of his life was held on August 30th, attended by family, friends and TSB teachers who knew and cared about this most colorful, unique individual. He will be missed, and will never be forgotten.

** MEGIVERN, MARJORIE
(Reprinted from "The Wilmington Star-News," Sept. 2, 2011.)

Marjorie Megivern, beloved mother, devoted wife, accomplished actress, journalist, and author, died Aug. 30 as a result of a car accident in Cary, N.C. The 86-year-old grew up in Ada, Okla., the only child of a school teacher.

She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a major in chemistry. She worked as a chemist until she married a Navy pilot and physician, Dr. Emerson Smith, and moved to the small north Texas town of Wolfe City, where she raised a family of four boys and founded the Wolfe City Public Library. A divorce in 1972 ushered in a host of new beginnings -- all of them in North Carolina. In Wilmington, she met her husband of 34 years, James Megivern, a professor of religion and philosophy at UNCW. For more than 25 years she and Jim lived in Wilmington.

Marjorie worked as a reporter for the Wilmington Star-News and performed in and directed countless community theater productions, and launched a successful children's theater group, Stageworks. Upon her husband's retirement from UNCW in 2003, they moved to Brevard and the friendly retirement community of College Walk. Just this past year, Cary became their new home.

Wherever she lived, Marjorie, in her typically zestful, exuberant fashion, invested her community with the excitement of live theater, most notably an array of fascinating one-woman shows she wrote and performed all over the state, bringing to life characters ranging from Mother Teresa to Eleanor Roosevelt and Florence Nightingale.

She also co-authored a book on churches in North Carolina and the history of the American Council of the Blind. Amid all this creative spark, Marjorie was forever giving to others. She read for the blind, served as an after-school tutor for at-risk kids, volunteered in soup kitchens, and in her final days was getting ready to participate in Cary's Genesis United Methodist Church's Stephen Ministry. As more than one person remarked about Marjorie, "She is a treasure." She passed on to her children and grandchildren the powerful life lesson that she lived to the fullest: that every day is precious and rich with opportunities to love and learn.

Marjorie is survived by her husband Jim; her four sons, Steven, Dan, Stuart and Bruce; four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held on Sept. 3. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Genesis United Methodist Church Stephen Ministry: http://iris.nowsprouting.com/genesisunitedmethodistchurch/#/nurture-care. Condolences may be sent through www.BrownWynneCary.com.

** MITCHELL, PHYLLIS
(Reprinted from "The Boston Globe," Oct. 6, 2011.)

Phyllis J. Mitchell of Revere, Mass., passed away on Oct. 4. Beloved daughter of the late Dewey and Evelyn (Moscatelli) Mitchell. Loving sister of Barbara Anecone of Burlington, Robert Mitchell of Gray, Tenn., Carol Sisak of Nashua, N.H. and Judy Brown of Revere. She is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, and cousins. Her funeral and mass of Christian burial were held on Oct. 8 in East Boston. Services concluded with entombment in St. Michael Cemetery Mausoleum in Roslindale. Phyllis worked as a legal advocate for the Massachusetts Office on Disabilities for over 20 years; she was a graduate of Emerson College and was featured on WBZ's Hometown Hero. Donations in Phyllis' memory may be made to: The Seeing Eye, 10 Washington Valley Rd., Morristown, NJ 07960-3412 or Perkins School for the Blind, Perkins Trust Office, 175 N. Beacon St., Watertown, MA 02472.

** WARD SR., ROY J.
(Excerpted from "The Richmond Times-Dispatch," Oct. 14, 2011.)

Roy John Ward Sr., retired deputy director of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, died Oct. 7 at home after a period of declining health. He was 91. His funeral was held Oct. 15 at the Bliley Funeral Home in Richmond. Interment followed at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

He was born blind with infantile glaucoma. Through surgery, he was given minimal sight in his right eye, but he remained legally blind. Eventually he would lose all ability to see and was totally blind for the last three decades of his life.

Nevertheless, he was a man of vision. He never lost sight of his goal of making life better for those who shared his lot.

Roy J. Ward Jr. remembers a father who didn't dwell on his blindness. "It was never a stumbling block for him," his son said. "It never stopped him from doing stuff for us or with us."

Born in Rockville Centre, N.Y., Mr. Ward was an Eagle Scout. At Cornell University, where he graduated in 1941, he played clarinet in the marching band. Later he would earn his master's degree at Richmond Professional Institute before it became part of Virginia Commonwealth University.

He worked for the Maryland School for the Blind and then Lighthouse for the Blind in New York. In 1959 his career brought him to Richmond. He established programs for the vision impaired, teaching them to navigate their surroundings.

He also liked to compete. A bowler himself, he established bowling leagues for the blind across the state - part of the American Blind Bowling Association. Using a rail set up to the left of the approach to a bowling lane, a vision-impaired bowler can stride forward and deliver the ball with authority and accuracy.

In 1978, he helped establish Virginia Voice, a program that organizes volunteer readers for closed-circuit radio broadcasts of news and entertainment. "He was the founding father of Virginia Voice," said Nicholas B. Morgan, who has been the organization's executive director since 1981. "He did all the legwork. ... He gathered the forces in Norfolk, Harrisonburg, Roanoke, Williamsburg and in Northern Virginia. He was the prime mover."

Ward was an active member of the American Council of the Blind, and he served on the board of the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services and the Virginia State Rehabilitation Council, which established an employee leadership award that bears his name.

He had adopted Virginia Tech's athletic teams when he came to Virginia, his son said, so after he died on Friday, "I like to think that Saturday's game (a dramatic Tech victory) was the first game he got to see, and the sunrise on Saturday was the first he had seen in 31 years."

Ward was the widower of Mabel Wallace Apsey Ward. In addition to his son, his survivors include two brothers, Lincoln Ward of La Mesa, Calif., and Harry Ward of Port Jefferson, N.Y.; another son, Thomas E. Ward of Richmond; a daughter, Nancy W. Lentz of Richmond; and three grandchildren.