Braille Monitor                                                 March 2012

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Remembering Margaret Warren

by Anna Kresmer

From the Editor: The following is another in our series of historical documents in the Jacobus tenBroek Library.

Margaret Warren chats with President Maurer in the fourth floor conference room at the National Center for the Blind in 1989.Many longtime NFB members will no doubt recognize the name of Margaret Warren, for years an active Federationist in the Iowa affiliate who was deaf-blind. Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1932, Warren was blind from birth but retained some hearing until early middle age. As a result she had an intelligible speaking voice, and with the aid of a machine called the Teletouch—a QWERTY/Braillewriter connected to a single Braille cell display—Warren energetically communicated with the world around her. She worked as a Braille proofreader and was a dedicated volunteer in both her church and community, regularly reading out loud to groups of children at a local daycare center. In 1990 she received a cochlear implant and was a strong supporter of the technology.

Warren believed that she had a duty to serve as an example to others of a competent deaf-blind person. In this effort she faithfully staffed a table in the NFB exhibit hall for decades and was a common sight at NFB annual conventions. Warren also believed deeply in the organized blind movement and served on the NFB Deaf-Blind Committee for several years. In 1983 she wrote an article entitled, “What Can Your Deaf-blind Child Expect,” which was published in Future Reflections (January/February 1983, Vol. 2 No. 1).

Possessing a friendly spirit and an inquisitive mind, Warren was a fixture of the Des Moines Chapter and a common Sunday afternoon guest in the homes of many of its members. One such chum, Lorraine Rovig, recalled the fun of teaching her to pump gas and the joy that Warren expressed in feeling the sculptures at the Des Moines Art Center.

Warren died in August of 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa, but her memory will surely linger with the many members of her Federation family. She will also live on in the NFB Institutional Archives, where her many years of correspondence with both Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer are preserved. One letter sent to Dr. Jernigan on August 4, 1981, shortly after the Baltimore convention, reveals both Warren’s devotion to the organization and her love of exploration.

Des Moines, Iowa
August 4, 1981

Kenneth Jernigan
American Brotherhood for the Blind
Baltimore, Maryland

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

This letter is somewhat overdue. I had meant to write soon after returning home but got involved with some things that needed immediate attention. First I want to say that I had a wonderful ten days in Baltimore. Cindy Martin said it was her best trip also. So many enjoyable and interesting things to do and see. The convention was a very interesting one. We had a very profitable deaf-blind committee meeting and brought up some things that need looking into. One concerned the airlines, and one you will probably be hearing from Jim Gashel about before too long. It concerns the Helen Keller Center. I gave him a tape of the letter I read at the meeting. It was meant for you, but they thought it best I give it to him. I am sorry so many committee members were absent. I think just three of the appointed members were there--Mary Reihing, Jeff Frye, and myself. The National Center is lovely and well equipped--something for all of us to be proud of.

I also enjoyed the cook-out at your home on July 11. You have a beautiful home. Baltimore is still what it was in 1978-- a warm, friendly, caring city. It is rightly named the Charm City. I wish Des Moines had as many places of beauty and interest as it does. Even though it is a hard walk from the hotel for me, Harbor Place attracted me. I could go back there many times to try foods and browse in the shops.

Here, again are the titles of the two print books I am looking for for my work at the day care center. The Magic Auto, by Janosch, and Helena the Unhappy Hippopotamus, by Yutaka Sugita. They are still looking for a replacement for Jackie. It must not be an easy job, but I am not surprised. When I ask people to do things for me, they are always too busy. They either have a job or already involved in all kinds of other volunteer work or social activities.

I want to thank everyone who helped make my stay in Baltimore such a pleasant one. Greet my friends.

Sincerely yours,
Margaret Warren

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