By Charles D. “Chuck” Goldman
A few very fond and special memories of a special friend, and giant advocate for persons with disabilities, especially persons with vision impairments, who I was privileged to know for more than 30 years.
Above and beyond, he was class through, totally and thorough, a mensch, AND the absolutely smartest man I ever met. Bar none!
1. My former landlord, American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, had failed to pay rent and was being evicted. I reached out to everyone I knew. Oral and Roberta made space for me to rent on Vermont Avenue, N.W., saving me from being office-homeless.
2. Oral and Roberta treated me like family, part of ACB, inviting me to all ACB parties, including a holiday dinner at their home in northwest D.C. They were madly in love the whole time I knew them.
3. When my book, "Disability Rights Guide," came out in 1989, Oral and Roberta had a book party for me in ACB's office.
4. I remember bowling with Oral in the basement of a George Washington University building. There was an issue (specifics long forgotten) involving blind bowlers. I had to join their group in order to represent them. Oral beat me by a boatload of pins. He could bowl as well as row (a passion about which he would was poetic).
5. Another legally related thing Oral and I worked together to provide discounted consultation for ACB members. They got a little bit of free legal advice which they might not otherwise have gotten. I deeply discounted the work when billing ACB and still managed in most months to cover my rent to ACB. Win/win.
6. Oral was politically savvy not only on the Hill representing ACB but also in protecting others. I was working on a piece that was very critical of certain specific sections in EEOC's forthcoming regulations implementing Title I of the ADA. I had gotten a call from someone (a federal employee) who had the final regulations and was willing to violate various federal rules/practices and give me a copy. Oral insisted on sending someone from ACB who would anonymously put the final rules in a plain brown envelope on my desk. That way I would be able to truthfully deny getting the final rule from a federal employee and not be culpable of any breach of federal law relating to my getting them.
Oral was a tireless advocate for blind and visually impaired persons. He never lost track of his priorities. He made the world a better place for blind and visually impaired persons.
Oral was my friend, and I was better for it. R.I.P. my friend.