We honor here members, friends and supporters of the American Council of the Blind who have impacted our lives in many wonderful ways. If you would like to submit a notice for this column, please include as much of the following information as possible.
Name (first, last, maiden if appropriate)
City of residence (upon passing)
State/province of residence (upon passing)
Other cities/states/countries of residence (places where other blind people may have known this person)
Date of death (day if known, month, year)
ACB affiliation (local/state/special-interest affiliates or national committees)
Deaths that occurred more than six months ago cannot be reported in this column.
Kathey L. Wheeler
July 11, 1945-December 27, 2019
Kathey Lorene Wheeler passed away Dec. 27, 2019 at Centerpoint Hospital in Independence, Mo. She was 74.
She was born to Roy Sanders and Vida Wade Sanders on July 11, 1945, in Elk Fork Township, MO. Kathey is survived by her husband, Daniel J. Wheeler; daughter Rachel Cathleen (Kyle) Cressman, of Memphis; son Daniel J. (Samantha) Wheeler III, of Independence; brother Keneth Sanders, of St. Louis; and nephew Timothy Sanders, of St. Louis. She was preceded in death by her parents.
Kathey was a graduate of the Missouri School for the Blind. She earned a bachelor of arts from St. Louis University and a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish Literature from the National University of Ireland in Dublin. She married Daniel Wheeler April 8, 1972, at the Old Cathedral on the St. Louis riverfront. She was one of the “most married” people, having been married by three priests in a cathedral.
Kathey loved children, and was certified in special education so she could teach children at the Kansas State School for the Visually Impaired. She also worked as a Taxpayer Service Representative helping people deal with the Internal Revenue Service.
Kathey participated in many blind and other organizations. She was a youth leader in the Camp Fire program and also served on the Board of Directors for the Heartland Council of Parliamentarians, Allied Workers of the Blind, Missouri Council of the Blind and American Council of the Blind. She helped the Salvation Army Seeing Help program by establishing a reading machine in Independence consisting of a flat-bed scanner hooked to a talking computer that could be used by people who could not read their own written materials. Kathey also served as a Christmas bell ringer for the Salvation Army.
She chaired the Citizens with Disabilities Advisory Board for the City of Independence, and served as treasurer and vice president of the Allied Workers. Kathey was president of the Noland Road Lions Club and the Santa Fe Trail Unit of Parliamentarians, and was vice president of the Missouri State Association of Parliamentarians. She served as the parliamentarian for the American Council of the Blind’s national convention for four years and chaired its constitution and bylaws committee for six years. Kathey also served as director, vice president and, ultimately, president of the Missouri Council of the Blind.
Leslie H. Gertsch
June 4, 1949-Nov. 28, 2019
Leslie H. Gertsch passed away in her home on Nov. 28, 2019, while in the care of her loving husband, Dero, and her children. Leslie leaves behind her husband, their four children, and 13 grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter Berry and Elora Hutchings; her in-laws, Benjamin Carl and Theresia Bertram Gertsch; and her daughter, Kerri Ann Gertsch (2 1/2 years old).
Leslie was born on June 4, 1949 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was raised in Bountiful, Utah as one of six children of Walter Berry and Elora Fenn Hutchings, with two sisters and three brothers. In the early years of Leslie’s life, she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that eventually left her with complete vision loss. Leslie graduated in the top of her class with the help of close friends and family members who would read her schoolwork and textbooks to her. While working toward her bachelor’s degree in French, with a minor in English, Leslie traveled to Belgium in order to perfect her language skills. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah Honors Program with a bachelor of arts degree in French and a teaching certificate. She continued in the Honors Program to earn her master of arts degree, also summa cum laude, in secondary counseling.
An enthusiastic equestrian, Leslie’s passion for horses led to her union with Dero, her beloved spouse of 44 years. Leslie and Dero worked together and, with the help of family members, built their dream home. There they raised their five children: Kathryn Elaine Schofield (James, deceased), Samuel Benjamin Gertsch (Kristine), Kerri Ann Gertsch (age 2 1/2, deceased), Alexander Dero Gertsch (Jessica), and Elora Theresia Gertsch.
Leslie could often be found at home tending to the many farm animals, gardening, preserving the garden produce, operating her braille transcription business, and working as the executive director of the Utah Council of the Blind. She loved to serve others and spent much of her time serving with her family, church, and community. She gave several decades of her life to organizations serving and advocating for people with disabilities. Among many others, these included the Utah Council of the Blind, the UCB Credit Union, the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities, the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired Advisory Council, the Institutional Council for the Utah State Schools for the Deaf and Blind, and the Utah Statewide Independent Living Council. Her major focus was always on independence for people with disabilities. She made those passions her life’s work and was recently presented with the inaugural Leslie H. Gertsch Award for Lifelong Leadership and Service, which was created in her honor.
A memorial service to honor Leslie was held at the LDS Chapel in Woods Cross, Utah, in early December.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute, many diligent ward members, and CNS Hospice for their acts of kindness. They also appreciate the constant care and concern from Leslie’s close friends (you know who you are).
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider donating to Leslie’s philanthropic endeavors, especially the Utah Council of the Blind. Donations may be sent to: UCB, PO Box 1415, Bountiful, UT 84011-1415.
Phil Raistrick, founder of En-Vision America, passed away on Nov. 20, 2019. Phil was a giant of a man and a visionary who was dedicated to providing those with vision impairment greater independence through technology.
The company began in Phil’s basement. Phil and his two visually impaired brothers loved playing poker. While one knew the braille, the other did not. That spark fed the flame that would become En-Vision America.
The i.d. mate, a talking bar code scanner, was born in 1996. Phil worked closely on developing the program that would evolve to the bar code scanner that we know and love today. In addition to allowing his brothers to better play poker, now they could identify millions of items that can be found in grocery stores today.
Not long after the bar code scanner, Phil worked on the problem of medication safety with the introduction of ScripTalk, a talking prescription reader. This system has expanded into tens of thousands of pharmacies throughout the nation and Canada and has evolved to include large print labels, braille labels, dual-language labels and controlled substance safety labels.
“With all his heart, Phil loved this company and what we stand for,” says David Raistrick, En-Vision America’s vice president. “We stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him to make a difference in the lives of others. It is because of him that we will carry on helping so many people around this world.”
A springtime Illinois memorial will be held Saturday, April 11, 2020 at Wilton Mortuary, 2101 N. Knoxville Ave, Peoria, IL 61603. Visitation for the memorial will be 10 to 11 a.m. A graveside service at Springdale Cemetery will follow.
Robert “Bob” Seliger
Reprinted from “The ICUB Bulletin,” Winter 2019.
Robert “Bob” Seliger, 87, passed away Oct. 30, 2019, at Fountain West Health Center in West Des Moines. Services will be held at a later date.
Bob was born March 22, 1932, in LeMars, Iowa to Karl and Marjorie Seliger. He received his degree in industrial arts from Westmar College in LeMars. Bob worked for many years designing sets for the Younkers in Sioux City. Most recently he was the custodian at Westminster Presbyterian Church. He was a member of the American Council of the Blind and the Iowa Council of the United Blind. Bob married his wife LaDonna in Hawaii on November 22, 1989. He loved to travel. Bob and LaDonna returned to Hawaii 57 times throughout the course of their marriage.
Bob is survived by his loving wife, LaDonna; son, John Patterson (Rose Johnston); grandchildren, Riley and Willow Patterson; a nephew; two nieces; and a host of extended family and dear friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, William Seliger.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Iowa Radio Reading Information Services for the Blind and Print Handicapped (IRIS), 100 E. Euclid Ave., Suite 117, Des Moines, IA 50313.