ACB Hero - North Carolina Pioneer
Theodore Bryant was present at the beginning when the North Carolina delegation and other state affiliates were expelled from the NFB. Subsequently, Theodore, Brady Jones, Marie Boring, Marvin Gatlin and Edwin Craddock – with the assistance of Durward K. McDaniel, Oral Miller and Floyd Qualls – became charter members of the fledgling North Carolina Council of the Blind. For the next half century, Theodore maintained his loyalty to NCCB and ACB including a life membership in ACB.
A North Carolina native, Theodore took degrees in Agronomy from North Carolina A&T and the University of Illinois. He taught agriculture for several years until illness resulted in a loss of eyesight. After struggling with the challenges of impaired vision, he became actively involved in the organized blindness movement. Seeking opportunities to improve himself through education, he earned a law degree from NC Central University, Durham.
The founding of the North Carolina Council of the Blind opened new vistas of service. He served as NCCB president and a board member for a number of years thereafter. Working first as a rehab counselor and later as a supervisor with the state Division of Services for the Blind, Theodore labored diligently for the creation of expanded employment opportunities for the visually impaired. Testifying on several occasions before legislative committees, he advocated for expanded programs and services and the requisite funding. He was appointed by the Governor to the state Commission for the Blind and to other state-sponsored committees.
Now well into his eighth decade and the sole surviving charter member of the NCCB, Theodore Bryant has never wavered from his commitment to the dignity and welfare of the visually impaired citizens of North Carolina. He continues today, as he has throughout his life, to exhibit a modest dignity born of years of service to others.
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The Oklahoma Council of the Blind dedicates this page in loving memory of LeRoy Saunders, past President of ACB. LeRoy served three two year terms. He then was appointed to the Committee for Purchase by President Clinton, and served with distinction for ten years.
He was the recipient of many awards, including The George Card Award from ACB, the M.C. Migel Medal from the American Foundation for the Blind and the Irwin Award from National Industries for the Blind.
In Oklahoma, we remember and admire LeRoy for the caring and gentle leadership he demonstrated to all of us. We were pleased to receive many positive thoughts and memories from our ACB members and friends after LeRoy's death. The following are excerpts from a few of the many we received:
- "Even though he was president and had a lot on his plate, he found the time for the individual members when they needed him.”
- “When I think of all of the good things about ACB and all of the kindest and most interesting people, I think of LeRoy."
- "I know he was the first low-vision president for ACB, and that meant a lot to me as a later life low-vision joiner."
- “In summary, LeRoy was a friend, a motivator, an educator, a helper, and a mentor. I will miss him much."
During our week of activities, as we go about doing the work of ACB, the organization LeRoy loved, let us all remember those who have gone before, and brought us to this place in time. It is now up to us to keep ACB strong.
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James F. Shaw
Jim Shaw died in his sleep on April 28, 2013, and the news rocked the blind community like an earthquake.
Jim's middle initial, F, should have stood for Fahrenheit; he had a passion for weather, geography and GPS information all over the world. At the 2008 ACB convention, while in charge of the ACB Information Desk, Pam Shaw proclaimed Jim the "white sheep" of her family. Jim participated in men's Bible study groups at several churches; the minister at his funeral suggested that Jim "had all his bases covered." When Jim found that a restaurant had large delicious servings (especially pork chops), he exclaimed in his joyous breathy voice, "Oohhhh, gooood."
During his 32 years with the Social Security Administration, Jim more than once earned honors both as National and Regional Employee of the year.
Jim Shaw was the "bald eagle" of the Kentucky Council of the Blind. He served on the KCB Board since 1974. He was a director at the time of his death, as well as treasurer of the Greater Louisville Council of the Blind and the Tri-state Library Users, and president of the Kentucky School for the Blind Alumni. He was past president of his Lions Club, and a member of ACB Lions. There's a gap at the ACB Information Desk where he used to copy data files each day, and a huge hole where he used to help hundreds of people with their Social Security problems.
We love you, Jim, and we miss you. We are proud to have called you our friend.
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Verna Lou (Lula) Dotson
Lula Dotson was born January 1, 1921, in Hardshell, Kentucky, during the Woodrow Wilson administration.
Her life spanned 17 presidents to March 12, 2013.
Lula enrolled in the Kentucky School for the Blind in 1930. That day she left her mountain home in a mule-drawn wagon, took her first train ride AND her first car ride, and discovered ice cream cones, electric light bulbs, indoor plumbing and braille.
Upon graduation from high school, Lula worked as a stereotypist at Clovernook. She married her husband Carl in Hazard in 1944. They moved to Louisville to find work as blind vendors.
Sensing the potential of the organized blind movement, Lula and Carl helped shape the Kentucky vending program and build both the Kentucky NFB chapter and the Kentucky School for the Blind Alumni. In the early '60's the Dotson family were major players in organizing ACB's fifth affiliate, the Associated Blind of Kentucky (now the Kentucky Council of the Blind).
Lula gave tirelessly of her time and raised tens of thousands of dollars for KCB. She contributed many thousands more to help keep KCB conventions affordable for all.
Thank you, Lula, for teaching us that great things grow from humble beginnings.