DENISE DECKER
1949 - 2020
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DECKER Denise M. Decker, Ph.D March 9, 1949 to November 4, 2020 Wonder 2008-2020 Sadly, long-time friend and change-agent, Denise Decker, passed away on November 4, 2020. Denise was a member of the Partners International Board of Directors and a member of our District of Columbia and Virginia Chapters. Denise began her work with Partners of the Americas in the 1980s, when she was a Disaster Assistance Officer for USAID. She then held an International Fellowship with Partners in which she wrote and implemened workshops to teach independent living skills to people with disabilities living in Brasilia, Brazil. Partners then went on to use her workshop in eight other Latin American countries and awarded Dr. Decker the Program Development Award for her hard work and stunning contributions. Service scheduled for later date. https://partners.net/blogs/memory-denise-decker Joel Snyder, Director, Audio Description Project, American Council of the Blind "We were all saddened to learn of the sudden loss of our friend and colleague Denise Decker on November 4, 2020. She was such a dedicated advocate, and a passionate leader in ACB's work on audio description with her service as Chair of the Audio Description Project Performing Arts, Museums & Parks Sub-Committee." American Association of University Women "I am always in awe of people who not only face adversity, but who, through their adversity, create something larger than themselves. This is the case of Denise Decker, a 1975-76 American Fellow, who has been blind since birth and who sees public service as a way to give back to the many family, friends, co-workers, and mentors who provided support and assistance to her throughout her life ""I am always in awe of people who not only face adversity, but who, through their adversity, create something larger than themselves. This is the case of Denise Decker, a 1975-76 American Fellow, who has been blind since birth and who sees public service as a way to give back to the many family, friends, co-workers, and mentors who provided support and assistance to her throughout her life "

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Published in The Washington Post on Nov. 18, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
March 19, 2021
Denise was everything her friends and coworkers have said about her. Always smiling and fun at family functions...so sad to hear of her passing...all her siblings and parents have passed also.... Denise growing up in New York and I in Boston sadly, we did not keep in touch. Would luv to speak with one of her close friends. 1(540) 810 7086
Judith L. (Decker) Kline
Family
March 5, 2021
I was a faculty member in the Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese of the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison while Denise was completing her Ph.D. in French at that university, and I did a good bit of reading and brailling for her. The afternoon that she defended her doctoral dissertation, I took her out to dinner at one of Madison's numerous Chinese restaurants. At the end of the meal we received a pair of fortune cookies, I don't remember what my cookie read, but I've never forgotten Denise's: "You are a great honor to your parents." Amen! (March 5, 2021)
Mary L. Daniel
Friend
January 15, 2021
Remembering Denise Decker
16 January 2021

My many connections and friendship with Denise Decker, all through AAUW, the American Association of University Women, began decades ago and occurred on the local, state, regional, national, and international levels. They ranged from being invited guests and speaking at each other’s local branches to serving together as delegates to the International Federation of University Women Conference in Yokohama in 1995. She traveled to Japan without her dog, matter-of-factly noting that some countries do not welcome service animals.

As I gratefully recall my admiration and affection for Denise, two short stories insist on being shared. Both say so much about her very essence:

In the early 1990s, my daughter, Lia, now a veterinarian, then still studying at Cornell University, decided to raise guide-dog puppies. She accepted the intensive responsibility, and the heartbreak of having to part, all too soon, with her warm fuzzy prodigies. And she wanted to do it right, even reading up on orientation and mobility techniques used by sightless persons. I told her about my friend Denise’s history and expertise with guide dogs. I told Denise about my daughter’s commitment and desire to ensure a smooth transition from her basic training to the puppy’s useful future. Denise suggested we three have dinner together. We met downtown. Lia remembers still how excited she was to meet my friend, Denise’s “warm and enthusiastic greeting,” and how skillfully she and Autumn led us into, onto, and out of the Metro and on to a restaurant some blocks distant. Lia closely observed and asked a flood of questions. Denise generously responded to each and, more important, calmly, confidently showed how life is done. When they met again many years later, Lia was thrilled to be remembered just as cordially and appreciatively as before.

About my second story, I confess to making up many now-forgotten details, but the salient parts remain crystal clear in my mind. At some point during my decade as an AAUW national board member, the president of AAUW New Jersey, like me also a Dianne, contacted me, seeking a partner with whom she could present a workshop on membership recruitment at a national convention. I recommended Denise Decker. I explained that AAUW’s willingness to grant Denise a fellowship to complete her PhD in linguistics at the Sorbonne, when other funding sources would not support a blind person—and, especially, AAUW’s belief in her—had inspired her life-long dedication to our organization; that her story would be an inspirational testimonial to potential members. Dianne, an energetic extrovert, was silent, then asked, “Is she dynamic?” From her tone, I sensed this was a deal-breaker question. I hesitated, needing to be truthful. “No, probably not in the way I think you mean dynamic,” I admitted, “but she will have the entire room in the palm of her hand within a few sentences.” Dianne agreed to work with her. At the time of the workshop I had other responsibilities but when I entered the room toward the end of the session, Denise was in front speaking, with doubtful Dianne standing off to the side. When she saw me, her face lit up with a triumphant “you-were-right” smile. Oh, yes, Denise was dynamic, in her own quiet, effective way.
Dian Belanger
Dian Belanger
Friend
November 18, 2020
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Catherine Healy
November 18, 2020
Denise, was a very inspiring woman. She was incredibly smart, extremely kind and resilient. I enjoyed working with her in National Headquarters, she and Wonder will be sorely missed.
Natasha Whitt
Coworker
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