Remembering Sherry Kuhlman
Posted on January 05, 2012 by Megan Burke
Our dear friend and colleague in the Independent Living Movement, Sherry Kuhlman, passed away last week, leaving this world a little better place through the life she led. Sherry had worked at Paraquad seventeen years, from 1994 until her retirement in June of 2011. She believed strongly in the independent living philosophy changing the lives of many individuals. Sherry was not someone who was in the spotlight or received a lot of attention for her work. She did, however, have a quiet wisdom that was always present pushing us forward and keeping us focused. She lived life on her terms, and by doing so gave her contribution to the Independent Living Movement.
Sherry will be missed, but her influence on our lives will remain as is evident from these heartfelt comments:
“We often think of disability leaders such as Ed Roberts, Justin Dart, Max Starkoff and Jim Tuscher who made a major impact on the disability community. However, we had a leader who was gentle spoken with a sweet manner, Sherry Kuhlman. Countless times, you would hear Sherry sharing her thoughts, views and her personal experiences pertaining to the Independent Living Philosophy with staff. I teased Sherry about being my personal Independent Living gauge. Often times when I questioned myself regarding Independent Living Philosophy, Sherry helped get me back on the IL track! I will miss Sherry!”
“Words that come to mind when I think of Sherry are steadfast, trustworthy, unswerving in her IL philosophy. She didn’t preach at you – her style of empowerment included pushing and prodding if you needed it, though. ”
“Sherry Kuhlman lived and breathed the Independent living philosophy. She did it quietly but made a huge impact on those people who were blessed to have known her and worked with her. Sherry always had time for her participants and coworkers who constantly sought her out for advice. At advocacy events throughout the years she was constantly surrounded by people who wanted to talk to her whether it was just to say hello and renew their acquaintance or to get help on something they were dealing with. We lost a great advocate and a great friend. I hope we at Paraquad can carry on and continue the lessons Sherry taught us to the next generation. ”
“When I started at PQ, Sherry had been in charge of our personal attendant program for only a brief time. We learned together. There were many trips to Jefferson City for meetings, which gave us plenty of time to talk. No topic was off-limits, and we got to know one another pretty well. The more she spoke about her life, the deeper my respect for her grew. She was a giving person full of life. I shall miss her greatly. ”
“Sherry taught me so much about IL. She was a sounding board for me as I tried to discourage myself from doing for someone and rather teaching them how to do for themselves. Once, Sherry was working with a woman who was resistant to learning how to take Call-A-Ride and wanted PQ’s transportation to pick her up. Sherry felt it was important that the participant learn this important skill to increase her independence. A short time later, Sherry told me that the participant called to let her know she faced her fears and had a meeting set up with Call-A-Ride. The participant was incredibly proud of herself, and now has a life-long skill that will continually help her be more independent. I think of this story a lot when I think about IL and IL skills training. I think of this somewhat like ‘tough love’, but really it was Sherry’s way of making sure she never became another person for a participant to depend on. ”
“Sherry was such a caring person and loved to talk about her grandchildren. To me she will be most remembered for her dedication, tireless effort and her smile. ”
“An unstoppable disability advocate 15 and 30 years older than a lot of her hell-raising cohorts, died last week. My wife and I drop in at art and theatre festivals, high-octane rock n roll blowouts, restaurant openings and ball games simply to send a message --wheelchair people are part of the community; don't box us out. These were outings tinged in politics. Sherry got out for nonpolitical reasons. She did things like have kids and learn to drive because people do these things. I doubt if she gave it a second thought. We need Sherry Kuhlmans by the truckload. ”
May Sherry rest in peace, and may the rest of us continue to fight so people with disabilities can live the lives they choose.
The visitation for Sherry Kuhlman will be on the 6thof January between 3:00PM and 9:00PM at the following location:
Heiligtag-Lang-Fendler Funeral Home
1081 Jeffco Blvd.
Arnold, MO 63010
The mass/funeral will be on the 7thof January at 10:00AM at:
Mary Mother of the Church
5901 Kerth Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63128