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Deborah Kendrick

Deborah Kendrick

From the Editor: Deborah Kendrick is a syndicated columnist, author, and editor. In recent years she has taken part in a number of Federation activities, but she did not know Dr. Jernigan. She wrote the following letter after she heard the news of Dr. Jernigan's death. She read it during the NFB of Ohio's convention memorial service. This is what she said:

October 13, 1998

Dear Dr. Jernigan:

A collage of stories surrounded your life. Charismatic, hypnotic, controlling, brilliant—these are words many have used in bringing those stories to life. There were stories about your holding the line and winning your point, and stories about your gentleness in incorporating a mistake into the overall fabric of knowledge. From the kitchen counter or the dining table, from the convention floor or the conference room, colleagues and friends have preserved and shared their memorable images of your magnitude. I have heard them, wondered over them, collected them too. All are now a part of the remarkable picture of the man, a picture growing and flourishing in my mind. But they are not my experience. What I will remember is your voice.

"It is OK to be blind," I heard you say on a recording a million years and miles ago, when I had thought perhaps the only way to continue my success was to hide the shameful fact of that ingredient.

"It's respectable to be blind," you said, and the concept, for me, was like a lifeline.

Your life is a wonderful mosaic that none could assimilate in a single encounter. From each shared experience we take from your history—as we did from your presence—the resounding chords of power and pride. I never touched your hand; but I heard your voice—and I thank you for your legacy.

Deborah Kendrick