Braille Monitor                                                 May 2011

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A Young NFB President Responds to a Faithful Federationist

by the Staff of the Jacobus tenBroek Library

Virginia ReaganFrom the Editor: The following is another in our series of historical documents in the Jacobus tenBroek Library. In December 1986, newly elected NFB President Marc Maurer received a Christmas letter from Federationist Virginia Reagan. A longtime member of the Missouri affiliate, Reagan used a wheelchair and lost her vision later in life. Surgeries resulting from her mobility problems had her in and out of nursing homes, but with the help of the NFB she found full-time employment and lived alone. She went on to join a Catholic religious order and worked as a mentor to young boys.

Active in the NFB and outspoken about the general public’s image of blind people, Reagan published articles in the Braille Monitor on three occasions. She sent yearly Christmas newsletters to Dr. Jernigan and later to Dr. Maurer. In these letters she complains about nothing, but simply expresses joy in life with a warm familiarity and an engaging sense of humor. The first letter she wrote to the NFB’s new president prompted this response:

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
Marc Maurer, President

December 22, 1986
Virginia Reagan
Brethren of the Cross

Dear Virginia:

Marc MaurerI have the letter you sent to me dated December 4, 1986, and I must say that, among the many nice things that have happened to me in the last year, I think receiving your letter is one of the nicest. Of course, I have had the pleasure of reading letters you have written before, but I have never received one from you myself. As you have pointed out, we in the Federation are a family. It is not only that it makes good sense for us to care for one another, it is part of what makes us the people we are.

With the assumption of the duties of the presidency of the National Federation of the Blind, my life has changed. This change is gradual and continuing. Dr. Jernigan is participating in the administration of the NFB, which is all to the good. For close to forty years Dr. Jernigan has worked hard to make our organization what it is. I admire the work, and I like the organization. What has already been done has taken imagination, commitment, and enormous energy. I never met Dr. tenBroek. However, sometimes, when I was in college, I would read our NFB material in the middle of the night. Often I would begin by feeling depressed and finish the reading with the fierce determination that things could be changed. At such times I wondered what Dr. tenBroek read in the middle of the night. Those two voices, Dr. Jernigan's and Dr. tenBroek's, made a real difference to me.

I think about what we have to do in the future. There is so much. But I know we will do it. We will because we have faith in each other and because we know the Lord will give us strength.

I very much appreciate your letter, and I return your good wishes. I hope that the blessings of God are with you and that you have a good Christmas and a successful and happy New Year.

Cordially,

Marc Maurer, President
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND

Sadly, Virginia Reagan passed away in 1993. But her strength, determination, and tireless support of the NFB live on in her Monitor articles and the letters she exchanged with members of her Federation family.


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