ACB Heros

Arkansas Heroes:
Leroy and Mary Ellen Johnson

      In 1976 Leroy and Mary Ellen took Lois Eubanks, Mary Ellen’s mother, to the ACB National Convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas.   That trip was the beginning of nearly four decades of service on the local, state, and national levels of ACB.

     They helped found the Northwest Chapter of the Arkansas Council of the Blind.  Leroy and Mary Ellen are a team as well as a married couple.  More people on the National Level would recognize Leroy in his cowboy hat with pins for each ACB National Convention he attended than they would Mary Ellen.  Here in Arkansas we know that if one of them commits to a project or an organization they will both work tirelessly for that cause.  If they see a need for service, they have the common sense and attention to detail to solve the problem at hand.  

     They have held the office of Arkansas Council of the Blind Treasurer and served on many committees through the years including: convention program and arrangement, scholarship, awards, and financial committees.  Mary Ellen edits the Arkansas Council of the Blind Newsletter and together they produce and distribute it in several formats.  They also filled any need they saw from transportation to meetings to helping the newly blind in the community to find much needed services. 

     While Leroy served on the ACB National Convention Committee, Mary Ellen started the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, a national organization which collected and recorded information on America’s Orphan Train Riders. 

     The Arkansas Council of the Blind voted this year to honor Leroy and Mary Ellen Johnson with this Hero Page.  It’s not enough to thank them for nearly 40 years of service, but it gives us a chance to share our love for them with the rest of our American Council of the Blind Family.

     We just want to say, “Thank you, to a wonderful couple, Leroy and Mary Ellen Johnson!”
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Julia Toyama

Aloha!  We would like to introduce you to a very important member of the Hawaii Association of the Blind (HAB) whose contributions are numerous yet sometimes unseen.  This person was one of the original three founding members of HAB, and she continues to play a huge role behind-the-scenes in all aspects of the organization.  There is no one else who can organize and graciously host various membership meetings, prepare delicious meals for various social gatherings, and always provide the necessary support and guidance to all members of HAB.  This amazing person is none other than Julia Toyama.  Although most people know her as the wife of Warren Toyama, one of the most influential blind advocates in Hawaii and the rest of the United States, Julia Toyama has grown to become a formidable force herself within the blind community.  As a graduate of the University of Hawaii, she has continued to help the people of Hawaii first as an elementary school teacher and now as the employee trainer for Blind Vendors Ohana, Inc., the company that runs the various newsstands at the Honolulu Airport.  Her kindness, quiet fortitude, and selfless attitude are traits admired by all who know her both personally and professionally.  We are all so grateful to have this remarkable person in our lives.  Thank you Julia for all that you have done for HAB, and we look forward to many more exciting years to come!
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Roy Ward
ACB Hero

A Lifetime of Service
Originally from New York, Roy was an Eagle Scout.  He played clarinet in the Cornell marching band, and graduated in 1941.  He received his Master's from VCU in 1966.
He began his professional career at the Maryland School for the Blind.  He also worked at the Lighthouse for the Blind in New York before accepting a position with the Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 1959.  Roy eventually became Deputy Director of the Department, and retired in 1985.
You probably know that Roy loved to bowl, that he helped establish bowling leagues for the blind across Virginia, and that he served as Secretary of the American Blind Bowling Association for several years.

You probably know that Roy was the mover and shaker behind the Virginia Voice, a radio reading service providing information to thousands
But did you know that Roy Ward, through the Old Dominion Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, was key in bringing the 1989 ACB convention to Richmond?  Did you know that Roy helped to found the ACB Parents, which later became the Council of Families with Visual Impairment and is now ACB Families?
Through the families affiliate, the Old Dominion Council, and his professional career, Roy served as a valuable resource to countless families experiencing vision loss for the first time.  He encouraged others to strive to be the best they could be.

Thank you, Roy, for being the glue, the rock, behind ACB Families.  You will be greatly missed.