In Memoriam: Susan O’Hara, 1938 to 2018

Susan O’Hara, a long-time leader of the disability rights movement and the former director of the Disabled Students Residence Program at the University of California, Berkeley, died on July 1 at her home in Berkeley. She was 80 years old.

O’Hara was a native of LaGrange Park, Illinois. After contracting polio while a senior in high school, O’Hara was confined to a wheelchair. Yet, she was able to earned a bachelor’s degree at what is now Dominican University and a master’s degree from Loyola University of Chicago.

O’Hara moved to Berkeley in 1974 and served as coordinator of the University of California’s Disabled Students Program Residence Program, located in a dormitory on campus from 1975 to 1988. In this role, she helped scores of disabled students and their families make the transition from home to college including several who used iron lungs. O’Hara was named director of the program in 1988 and served in that role until her retirement in 1992.

After retiring from the university, O’Hara devoted her time to building a collection of oral histories of people wh played major roles in the disability rights movement.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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