Braille Monitor October 1986
by Kenneth Jernigan
Writing about the death of a friend and colleague is never easy, but writing about the death of Owen Cudney is especially difficult. For a dozen years he had been the auditor for the National Federation of the Blind, but he was far more than that. He was one who understood what we are doing and believed in the right of the blind to achieve first- class citizenship.
I first met Owen in the early 1970's. He was introduced to me by Dick Edlund, who had known him since boyhood. From the beginning it was clear that Owen was a man of compassion and understanding and of rock-ribbed integrity. He was one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever known, but he never wavered from principle. He was careful about what he said, but when he said it, he meant it--and you could count on it.
Year after year Owen and his wonderful wife Louise came to our conventions. Owen was present at every session. He was quiet and unassuming but extremely observant. He believed that the blind had the right to be free, and he knew that the Federation was the vehicle to the goal.
In March of 1984 he learned that he had cancer of the liver. He received massive chemotherapy treatments and undoubtedly experienced much pain, but he was always positive and cheerful. He left the hospital to come to the 1984 convention in Phoenix. Disregarding his personal problem, he behaved with his usual manner of concern for others. I shall never forget the dinner we had together in Scots dale on the last night of the convention.
For the next two years Owen waged a courageous battle against eancer, but as the months went by, it was clear that (despite his optimism and positive attitude) the end was close. Since he lived in Kansas City, he especially wanted to come to the 1986 convention. When I arrived in Kansas City I talked with Louise, and she told me that the doctors had said the end might come at any time. However, when I talked with Owen later that day, he was his usual positive self, telling me that he hoped he would be able to come to the hotel and see me. I think he knew that this was not possible and was simply following his usual pattern of trying to make things easier for others.
He died on Sunday, August 3rd, at the age of 62. We share Louise's grief at his loss. He was a champion for our rights and a true personal friend.