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July 6, 2003

A Quiet Farewell

From: Stuart R. Brackney - Jul 6, 2003

With over five billion people on the planet, the passing of one person can go un-noticed and disappear very quietly. That sounds logical, but I will not let the recent passing of Norm Rash (February 23, 2003) go without some comment about this man and his impact on the Arizona community.

By nature he was a low key, easy to get along with person. The white color that took over the whiskers on his face gave him that look of distinction, though it mattered not to him about such things.

A long time employee of the State of Arizona, Norm headed the Deaf Services Section in the Arizona Department of Economic Security; within the Rehabilitation Services Department to be exact.

What makes Norm’s sudden passing (he was 66 years old) so unique is, what he accomplished… quietly.

In his job, Norm Rash managed the rehabilitative services for deaf and hard of hearing people enrolled in the Rehabilitation Department. He recognized that his department could not accomplish all that was needed by and for deaf and hard of hearing people living in Arizona.

Through his efforts, in 1977 Norm was able to have introduced into the state legislature a bill to create the Arizona Council for the Deaf. The legislature passed the legislation, but failed to fund this new state agency for the deaf. He returned the following year with another bill to fund the agency designed to serve the needs of deaf people, governed by board of nineteen members appointed by the governor.

Once again, very quietly, Norm Rash was able to convince the Arizona State Legislature to appropriate $55,000 to run this agency.

Twenty-six years have passed since it’s creation, with numerous name changes, the now Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing has accomplish so much for, not just deaf and hard of hearing people, but the residents of Arizona as well.

With a five million dollar a year budget, operating a telephone service for their constituents, and many other major activities, this agency has a long history of “improving the quality of life” for Arizona residents who happen to be deaf or hard of hearing.

When you watch KTVK-TV3, Phoenix, on Sunday mornings and see the television program “Sign Out”,…(a program for and about the deaf) also seen in Tucson on KUAT TV 6, and other municipal television stations, think of and thank Norm Rash. Through his close relationship with Chuck Glance, then Station Manager and Mr. Delbert Lewis, station owner, this program began its weekly one half hour run in 1976. It has outlasted most other local community service programs, with the exception of Pets on Parade, also on TV 3.

So you see, or should I say “hear” Norm Rash was a loud bang in Arizona for our deaf and hard of hearing residents. I did not feel comfortable when I heard four months late that he had quietly passed away.

They say “Silence is Golden” but not today my friend. I long to hear your voice and see that unassuming smile, most importantly to be with a man who got things done, quietly.

Stuart R. Brackney

Former Director

Arizona Council for the Deaf