Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Honor of a Brave Man Who Lived With Polio

A high school classmate from Lawrence, KS died June 13, 2012 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.  His name was Gerald Max "Jerry" Vogel.  You might wonder why I'm calling Jerry a brave man since he never served in the military or saved anyone's life.

The reason I call Jerry a brave man is because he kept going against all odds.  At the age of nine years old, Jerry was struck down by polio and became a paraplegic.  Before that he was a normal kid living on a farm.  I can't even imagine how difficult it was for Jerry and his family.

I didn't meet Jerry until middle school, but I remember he always had a smile on his face.  Jerry loved sports and while in high school he lettered as a manager of the football team.  He graduated from Lawrence High School, and he attended the University of Kansas.  He left the university because it wasn't wheel chair friendly at that time. 

He became an amateur radio operator joining the Lawrence Amateur Radio Club, and he enjoyed taking part in their Field Days.  His call letters were WA0OWH.  He was asked to join a committee to discuss how best to help those with disabilities, and Jerry made many suggestions to help people get around in his situation.

Jerry worked as a computer lab instructor at Independence, Inc, where he had completed several business courses in computers.  Technology was his friend, and he made use of voice-assisted technology.  Jerry lived next door to his parents and for the last ten years next door to his sister. 

The other heroes in this real life story are Jerry's parents who stood by him all his life and let him become as independent as he could be.  His sister, a distinguished scholar and professor at Fort Hayes State gave up her profession to live next door to her brother for the last ten years of his life.  There are numerous cousins and friends who were there for Jerry, too. 

Goodbye, Jerry, you were an inspiration for the rest of us.  We'll be thinking of you at our 50th class reunion.  You'll be missed.  Thank you for all the hard work you did on the class reunion committee. 

Thank you for reading.  I hope to see you next Sunday.

Sandy
http://www.amazon.com/author/sandramarshall


11 comments:

Louise Behiel said...

What a moving tribute, Sandy. thank you for sharing this glimpse into the life of an extraordinary man and family. take care of you, my friend.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Louise. Yes, he was extraordinary.

Natalie G. Owens said...

God bless him. Some people come into our lives to touch us. Very moving post, Sandy.

K.T. Bishop said...

what a great story...

Linda LaRoque said...

A special man, indeed, Sandy. We tend to forget the contributions the disabled make to society. Thanks for sharing.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Natalie, it was a sad thing to have happen.

Thanks, K.T. There is always someone worse off than we are.

Thanks, Linda. People try to ignore the disabled because they're uncomfortable around them. He was special.

Ilona Fridl said...

Sandra, people like that are to be admired. They were given the ultimate challenges and worked through them. Now that I'm in a wheelchair, I can't imagine living my whole life in one.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

What a wonderful tribute, Sandy, for someone who sounds like such an ispiration. Sorry for the loss of your friend. Hugs!

StubbyJo said...

I worked for Jerry as a nurse's aide, helping him get ready for the day, through the local VNA for 2 years while I was in college. Jerry was was funny, sometimes ornery, thoughtful, and sometimes flirty. He had his routines, communicated and advocated well for himself, and could train a new aide quickly. So sad to hear of his passing. Won't forget that smile.

Sandy said...

Ilona, thank you for coming by. I'm sorry to hear you're in a wheelchair. Stay strong, my friend.

Thank you, Stacey. Jerry was definitely an inspiration.

Sandy said...

Stubby Jo, so glad to hear from you and receive more insight from you about Jerry. Thank you for stopping by.

Train a new aid quickly. I had to smile at that. I bet he did.