[nfbmi-talk] priscilla mckinley obit

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Fri Dec 17 20:42:00 UTC 2010

Priscilla McKinley of Iowa City, and formerly of St. Ansgar, died on Sunday, December 12 at her home in Iowa City.


Priscilla Leigh McKinley was born on August 10, 1961, in Osage, Iowa, the youngest child of the late Philip and Phyllis McKinley. She grew up in St. Ansgar,

graduating from St. Ansgar High School in 1979. Despite losing her eyesight at age 22, due to complications of diabetes, and suffering serious health problems

for many years, Priscilla lived an exceptionally full life and was an inspiration to many others as a successful, confident, and competent blind person.

She earned her B.A. degree in English at the University of Iowa in 1993 followed by a Master of Fine Arts degree with honors in Nonfiction Writing in 1998,

and her Ph.D. degree in Language, Literacy, and Culture in 2006. Her doctoral dissertation, Literacy in the Lives of the Blind, investigated how literacy

practices of the blind have been influenced by technology and sponsors of literacy, including parents, teachers, and rehabilitation professionals. As a

strong advocate for making computing technology more accessible and of exploiting that technology to improve the lives of vision-impaired people, Priscilla's

pioneering approaches gained the attention of the popular press, and she was featured in an article in the New York Times and on the CBS Evening News.


Priscilla won numerous scholarships and awards, including a 1996 National Federation of the Blind scholarship and a 1998 NFB TenBroeck Fellowship. As a

graduate student and instructor at the University of Iowa, Priscilla taught many writing courses and was an engaging and beloved teacher. In 2000, based

on nominations by her current and former students, she was named Blind Educator of the Year by the National Federation of the Blind.


A prolific writer, Priscilla had numerous works published in technical journals, literary magazines and books. She was a seemingly tireless organizer and

served in many positions, including vice president of the National Organization of Blind Educators, as a member of the Board of Directors of the NFB of

Iowa, and as a mentor to many individuals who had recently lost their vision. She was serving as president of the Old Capitol Chapter of the NFB at the

time of her death.

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Through her stubborn refusal to give in to the complications of diabetes, she defied the odds so many times that those close to her began to feel she was

invincible. Known for her independent spirit, feisty character, and perseverance, Priscilla was able to find humor in the most dire situations, even if

it meant laughing at herself. In spite of many health setbacks, she was able to go on and reach outstanding personal achievements and touch the lives of

many individuals outside her circle of family and friends. Priscilla was a loving and devoted mother, a beloved sister and aunt, and a cherished friend.

She will be missed by all.


Priscilla is survived by her son, Jonathan Whalen, of Vienna, Virginia, her companion C. Thomas Foster of Iowa City, two sisters, Ann Randall of Sioux Falls,

South Dakota, and Jane McKinley of Hopewell, New Jersey, two brothers, William McKinley of Madison, Wisconsin, and Philip McKinley of Okemos, Michigan,

nine nieces and nephews, her sweet dog, Bella, and many relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Marcia McKinley.


A private burial will be held at the St. Ansgar City Cemetery. On Tuesday, December 28, at 2:00 p.m., friends are invited to gather to offer their condolences

to the family at the United Methodist Fellowship Hall, 510 West Fourth Street, St. Ansgar, Iowa. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, December

29 at 11:00 a.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union on North Madison Street in Iowa City. Arrangements have been made through Lensing Funeral Service in Iowa City.


In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial gifts be made to the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, 2721 34th Street, Des Moines, Iowa, 50310. Priscilla McKinley | press-citizen.com | Iowa City Press Citizen

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