John A Chappell, Jr.
With great sadness, ECI has learned of the passing of John A. Chappell, Jr. John was a co-founder of Handicaps Unlimited of Virginia (HUVA) and helpedestablish Virginia’s first Center for Independent Living, the Endependence Center (ECI). John was the first Executive Director from 1980-1984 of ECI.
John had paraplegia and committed his life and career as a grassroots advocate for people with disabilities beginning in the early 70s. He was a founding member of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and its first Vice President.
John was a member of the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD) board. He was actively involved at the national level advocating for legislation, including the Rehabilitation Act, focusing on the Independent Living Title and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law on July 26, 1990. In Virginia, John’s advocacy resulted in the Virginians with Disabilities Act being passed in 1985.
In the mid-1980s, John moved to Massachusetts and became the Deputy Commissioner for Community Services for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission until his retirement in 2010. After retiring, John continued his work by consulting and working with the Massachusetts Disability Policy Consortium as president of its Board of Directors.
In addition to a life of advocacy and leadership, John enjoyed his family life with his wife, Kathryn, and extended family. John was a tinkerer, technologist, and hobbyist, working on the earliest personal computers in the 80s and 90s for weather monitoring, beta testing software, and hardware and looking for better ways to do home automation. His family nickname was “Inspector Gadget.”
John’s career as an advocate resulted in significant changes throughout Virginia and Massachusetts.
ECI extends its sincere sympathy to the family and friends of John A. Chappell, Jr.