Today we take a moment to celebrate the life of Robert (Bob) Perske (1927-2016), long time member of the Religion & Spirituality Division of the AAIDD. Early in his career, Bob served as a chaplain at Kansas Neurological Institute, an institution for 250 children and youth with intellectual disabilities. After pastoring there for eleven years, he continued to live a lifetime of writing and advocacy for people with disabilities, especially as they faced courts and legal processes. Where people with IDD may confess to crimes they did not commit simply because they wish to make the police or others happy, Bob tirelessly fought for their rights in his actions and writing.
You can read many of Bob’s articles over at his website, www.robertperske.com. The AAIDD will be offering a special pre-conference workshop on living his legacy forward before the upcoming conference. You can read a tribute from the AAIDD here. A striking quote from this tribute reflects on Bob’s constant reminder that human dignity involves risk. All too often, caregivers and service organizations have “clever ways of building the avoidance of risk into the lives” of people with IDD. Bob drew attention to these practices that stifled their opportunities for personal growth, observing that there can be a “dehumanizing indignity in safety.”
Communitas EST recently released a retrospective newsletter following a life celebration for Bob in Darien, CT – his home for 40 years. We have been given permission to post that newsletter here, which I encourage you to take a look at.