From the Riverfront Times (12.27.10):
R.I.P. Disability Activist Max Starkloff, 1937-2010
Max Starkloff, a longtime activist for disability rights and founder of Paraquad and the Starkloff Disability Institute, two local organizations that help disabled people live independently, died this morning. He was 73.
The immediate cause of death is not known. Staffers at the Starkloff Institute were told that Starkloff had the flu and would not be coming in.
Starkloff broke his neck in a car wreck in 1959, when he was 21. The accident left him a quadriplegic...
From the Starkloff Disability Institute:
Max J. Starkloff, President and CEO
...When Max finally left the nursing home, they ran Paraquad as a "mom and pop" organization. Today, Paraquad is a permanent institution, providing independent living services and advocacy for thousands of people with disabilities, their families and employers.
Through Max's accomplishments, people with disabilities in St. Louis have gained the opportunity to live independently. Below are a few of his achievements.
- Co-Founded Paraquad in 1970, with his wife, Colleen, as a privately funded Independent Living Center;
- Secured first ever stateside, barrier-free legislation for local and state curb cuts;
- Acquired disabled parking legislation;
- Established Paraquad as one of the original 10 federally funded Independent Living Centers in the nation;
- In 1970, founded the St. Louis Chapter of the National Paraplegia Foundation;
- Labored for access to public buildings and schools;
- Received a commitment from the local transportation authority to adopt a policy that all new buses will be wheelchair lift-equipped;
- Organized and spearheaded a large coalition of people with disabilities, volunteers and community leaders to support the above transportation policy;
- Consequently, St. Louis was the first city in the nation to have lift-equipped buses on their streets;
- Influenced St. Louis' new light rail system to endorse and include total accessibility;
- Co-founder, and Founding President of the National Council on Independent Living;
- Served on the board of directors of the World Institute on Disability, Berkeley, California; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Missouri; and Gazette International Networking Institute, St. Louis;
The single most outstanding aspect of Max Starkloff's contribution to the needs of people with disabilities is his record of achievement in developing a strong and expansive network of grassroots advocates for change. Through his direct contact with a wide spectrum of institutions and people who make the St. Louis metropolitan area a vital, accessible and growing community, he has become the community's single most important resource and authority on disability issues. He is a dynamic example of living a full life as a person with disability, which enables him to connect civic leaders with grassroots advocates and with disability issues in a compelling way.
Max and Colleen have three children, Meaghan, Max Carl and Emily Johanne (deceased), and two grandchildren, Maya and Talia.
From KSDK (12.28.10):
Max Starkloff Dies
Missouris Congressman Lacy Clay, a long-time friend of Max Starkloff, described the Paraquad founder as a civil rights pioneer and trusted advisor.
"I am deeply saddened by the loss...He was a trusted advisor who helped me advocate for the rights of disabled Americans for almost three decades," Clay said. "At Paraquad, and across this country, Max Starkloff stood tall for the full inclusion of disabled Americans in all fields of endeavor.
"He was a true civil rights pioneer whose lifetime of courageous leadership made our country and our community stronger."
And friends said that is what he wanted, to pave the way for others with disabilities.
"Max demonstrated that he could not only be useful but could become a national leader in a movement," said friend Charlie Claggett, who is also writing a book on Starkloff.
His wife Colleen was a partner in all his endeavors. And friends said she'll make sure his work continues.
"I think max was just such a widely regarded leader and such a fine person," Claggett said. "I know we're all going to miss him as a person but his mission will continue so that's the good news."
Funeral arrangements are still being finalized.