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More MS news articles for October 2003

Disabled activist Brickley dies

September 18, 2003
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Santa Cruz

Community activist Terry Brickley is being remembered as a tireless crusader of rights for the disabled as he fought his own long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Brickley died of pneumonia at Dominican Hospital on Monday night. He was 71.

Diagnosed with MS 43 years ago, Brickley was the catalyst for much of the groundbreaking change that garnered rights for those with physical handicaps here and across the country.

A public memorial will be held at a later date.

Many remembered Brickley as a being particularly assertive when it came to getting his point across and standing up for the rights of the disabled.

Councilman Mike Rotkin on Wednesday recalled how, long before the Americans with Disabilities Act, Brickley pushed for elevators in buildings, accessible buses and "curb cuts," or sloped areas that give wheelchair-bound individuals easy sidewalk access. He also pioneered the push for disabled parking spaces downtown, accessible public buildings and bathrooms countywide.

"Terry Brickley ... could probably take single-handed credit for having pressured the transit district to become the first in the country to become fully accessible with its buses," said Rotkin.

"The thing about him that was amazing was not just that he was a thorn in people’s sides, constantly pressuring, but that he did his homework," said Rotkin. "He always had so- lutions, ways that you could actually solve the problems."

Brickley was born in Palo Alto on June 19, 1932. He had lived in Santa Cruz for the past 37 years.

"His life was made bigger by MS ... he really did find a powerful purpose in life," said Salley Jorgensen, Brickley’s life partner of 13 years.

Said his daughter Tori Bradford, "He did everything he could think of to get his point across and really made the community see a lot of things that needed changing."

Michael Bush of Santa Cruz, a member of the Santa Cruz County Commission on Disabilities, recalls a life-altering lesson Brickley taught him in 1989, not long after Bush was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"I was (too proud) to think about using a wheelchair and I had been stumbling around," said Bush.

One day when Bush was visiting Brickley, the man asked him to sit in a wheelchair so they could take a stroll to the ocean.

"We had probably gone nearly a mile when he looked at me and said, ‘Michael, when was the last time you walked that far?’ " said Bush. "He smacked me up side the head with the realization that I had become my own worst enemy."

Brickley earned several degrees and was a practicing psychotherapist for nearly 20 years, specializing in disability and sexuality issues.

Brickley founded, headed and sat on the boards of several organizations dedicated to improving the lives of the disabled, including Adaptability Unlimited in 1971. He later established both a regional and a San Francisco chapter of the California Association for Physically Handicapped, now Californians for Disability Rights.

In 1977, he helped found the "Quad Squad," a pilot program that hired the handicapped to enforce parking regulations in Capitola Village. The program received national media attention then and is still operating today. Brickley also penned a nationally syndicated column titled "HANDICapsules" between 1972 and 1982.

In 1997, Brickley’s 25-years of community advocacy work here was recognized when the city and county proclaimed a day in his honor, which was attended by more than 200 people.

In addition to Sally Jorgensen and his daughter Tori Bradford, he is alos survived by his son-in-law and a grandson.

Donations in Brickley’s name are preferred to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, 546 Abbott St., Salinas, CA 93901.

Copyright © 2003, Santa Cruz Sentinel