June 14, 2007

A beautiful, inspiring funeral today...

For Jeff Erlanger, the son on my colleague Howie Erlanger. From the Isthmus:
Jeff, a lifelong quadriplegic who used a wheelchair, focused much of his activism on improving the lives of people with disabilities. But Jeff was the kind of person who immediately dispelled any notion that you might have about treating the disabled with paternalism or pity. He was intelligent, funny and often politically savvy. He was the kind of person who, even if he hadn't been disabled himself, would have been at the table arguing for people's rights anyway.

Even early in his life, Jeff Erlanger was someone who impressed people with his wit and vitality. His appearance at age 10 on Fred Rogers' TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, when host and guest burst out into a spirited rendition of "It's You I Like," was fondly remembered on the occasion of Rogers' death...
A short video, showing some of the encounter with Mr. Rogers:


reader_iam said...

This made me cry.


Mike said...

The Erlangers are neighbors. My sincere condolences.

knoxwhirled said...

dang, tears. What a delightful child and a cool guy.

jane said...

“All Jeff wanted was for developers to think about people with disabilities when they build houses -- to make sure the doorways are wide enough for wheelchairs, eliminate steps at the entrance, put a bathroom on the first floor. Simple ideas…”

He lived a worthy life, as if we should weigh it and pass judgment. But what Erlanger did in advocating for disability-able homes was a service to us all. If we’re lucky, we’ll grow to be old, but with our increasing longevity often come arthritis, wheelchairs, hospital beds, etc. I try to incorporate wider doorways, at least one barrier-free entrance and a downstairs bedroom- bath in the properties I do and really should do lower counters, more lever handles, grip bars, etc. I just turned 50 and don’t feel it, but see too many people who want to stay home as they recuperate or just naturally decline in their later years. That’s not a cheery thought , but seeing what this man championed on top of his daily struggle is very heartening.

froggyprager said...

A good article about him by Doug Moe in the Cap Times was also very moving and includes a very interesting story. http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/column/moe/188157

I have seen Jeff around town a few times and on TV and found him inspirational.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I bought my first car from Howie Erlanger many years ago. He was such a mensch. Looks like his son was, too.

May God grant Jeff eternal rest and perpetual light.

Mark Daniels said...

I remember Jeff's appearance on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The video is a wonderful tribute to two great souls, him and Fred Rogers.

Jeff was obviously courageous. He and his family are to be commended for the way they've lived their lives.

Jeff's boyhood reaction to Fred Rogers bespeaks the grace and love with which the TV host lived his life. What a fantastic ministry he had! (Rogers, as you know, was an ordained Presbyterian minister whose written letter of call was to television ministry to children.)

Thanks for sharing this, Ann. I will pray for the Erlanger family tonight, asking God to give them comfort and strength for the days ahead.

Mark Daniels

AlphaLiberal said...

I never knew him him, but by all accounts he was a good man. From public accounts he had humor, spunk, and modesty.

Doug Moe also had a touching piece on him.

A life well lived.

Synova said...

I'm almost certain that I remember seeing that episode of Mr. Rogers.

Considering housing and disabilities... people should because people get old, if nothing else. A bathroom and bedroom on the main floor is a necessity. Door handles instead of knobs are a good idea too. My mom is visiting my sister who just had a baby and she said her hands already hurt from turning the little door knobs.

And wide doors? Figure even if everyone is hale and healthy... it makes it easier to move furniture. I was looking at a house for sale down the road and the stairs to the upstairs was circular with walls (rather than a banister) and all I could figure is that you were supposed to hire a cherry picker to set bedroom furniture on the balconies because I can't imagine getting anything up those steps.

This stuff should be built into the house from the beginning.

Internet Ronin said...

As some here know, my mother was stricken with Guillain-Barré Syndrome the day after last Thanksgiving, and remains largely confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk.

Fortunately, my parents did take into account such a possibility when planning their retirement home (although with my dad in mind, who suffered from a chronic illness, not my mom, who had been healthy all her life), so the necessary modifications to accomodate the wheelchair were minimized.

One thing they overlooked was the need for the shower pan to not be raised above the floor like it usually is. Although easier now, transfers to the shower bench were quite difficult (and painful) at first.

jimbino said...

As great as the guy was, I think it's about time we all stopped this religious nonsense of funerals. Why not celebrate the last drink, last sex, last comment to the blog?

It's supremely irritating to be routinely asked to participate in someone else's rituals.

Palladian said...

And it's all about you, isn't it, jimbino?

Galvanized said...

What a lovely young man. :) I am sorry for the loss to his family and friends, but what a blessing it must have been to know him! And he had an infectious optimism to him, it seems.

As for Fred Rogers, he was a favorite of mine growing up. I love how he sidestepped the hype and "short attention span" trap that the kids' TV shows after him fell for, but he addressed the issues for kids - loneliness, fears, and was so candid. He was such a great influence in kids' TV.

And what a sweet clip. It made me tear up - not the boy's disability but his smile...and the genuineness of them both. :)

TMink said...

Wow, some people are so strong, so good, so solid, and so real.

Then there is Jimbino.