Thursday, June 8, 2017

Louis David Patrick, Jr.

Louis David Patrick, Jr. 1947 - 2017

Memphis, TN
Louis David Patrick, Jr. passed away on June 1 from

Louis Patrick
complications of adenocarcinoma. He was born in Memphis in 1947 to Louis Patrick Sr. and Daisy Patrick. Although Louis contracted polio in 1950 and lost the use of his legs, he was very independent until the last few months of his life. He attended the Shrine School, Sherwood Elementary, Overton High school and finally Memphis State University, where he met and married Sheila DeLozier in 1968 and earned his BA in 1975 with a major in History.

Although he worked at a number of jobs, the one that was closest to his heart was with the Center for Independent Living. On October 1, 1985, Louis, Deborah Cunningham, Fred Dinwiddie, Nigel Shapcott, and Michael Heinrich signed articles of incorporation for Access All Areas, the declaration of independence for MCIL as an organization run and controlled by people with disabilities. Until then, what was to become MCIL was part of West Tennessee Easter Seals, which was not controlled by and for people with disabilities. 

Louis described that life-changing experience this way: "I had been 'passing'--living and working outside the doubly segregated world of disability--since I had started public school at Sherwood Junior High in 9th grade. Had the CIL not been a very, very different way of serving people with disabilities, I would never have been interested in working there. Deborah Cunningham set me on the road to understanding the history and strength of the independent living movement."

After retiring from Fed Ex in 2003, Louis served on the Board of Directors for MCIL, several times as president. He chaired two committees for the MACCD, Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities: the Memphis Transportation Advisory Committee (MTAC) and the Housing Community Access Committee (HCA). He worked for the adoption by the City Council of a "visitability" ordinance to assure that new homes built in Memphis with public funding be more accessible to individuals using wheel chairs. He also worked on accessibility for the Liberty Bowl a Citizen's Pedestrian Advisory Council to improve sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities in Memphis, participated in a HUD investigation of fairness in renting apartments to individuals with disabilities, and submitted recommendations to the Overton Park Conservancy to improve accessibility in that park. Louis also worked on an Advisory Committee of Memphis' Engineering Department to form a "Pedestrian & Schools Safety Action Plan" and the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization's "Mobility Summit." Louis also worked with the University of Tennessee's Physical Therapy Department, allowing students to "practice" on himself, teaching them about his own experience. He also worked for many years with state representative Mike Kernell.

All these forms of advocacy and activism tell only a fraction of the story of who Louis Patrick was, however. He was fascinated with language and loved to discuss history and genealogy. His appreciation of beauty and joy of life were infectious. He was the epitome of the ideal gentleman, tender hearted and generous but firmly grounded in principles of justice and decency. He is survived by his aunt, Melrine Roleson, and a host of cousins and nieces and nephews who admired and loved him dearly.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, June 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Forest Hill Cemetery mid-town at 1661 S. Elvis Presley Blvd. The memorial service will be at the same location on Friday at 2 p.m. Those who would like to make a contribution in lieu of flowers are encouraged to send donations to the Memphis Center for Independent Living at 1633 Madison Ave, 38104. The Center has also invited guests to attend a reception at that location following the service.

Louis Patrick at an MCIL event


Published in The Commercial Appeal on June 8, 2017