[nfb-talk] Paul Edward Knisbacher Kay Dies at age 71

by way of David Andrews <dandrews@visi.com> LPovinelli at aol.com
Sun Jan 11 02:53:01 UTC 2009

Paul Edward Knisbacher Kay Dies at age 71

By Harold Snider and Larry Povinelli

We report with great sorrow the untimely death of 
Paul Kay, a longtime leader in the National 
Federation of the Blind, after a protracted 
illness on Wednesday, January 7, 2009. We would 
like to recall Paul’s life and achievements.

Paul Edward Knisbacher was born on February 22, 1937 in Vienna, Austria.

Paul’s early life was traumatic. His family 
fled from the Nazi takeover of Austria in 
November, 1938. First they fled to Belgium for 
about a year. When the Nazis invaded Belgium in 
1939, they again fled to England. The young 
family survived the Blitz in London and after 
eighteen months in England immigrated to the 
United States in early 1941. On arrival, Paul’s 
father changed the family name from Knisbacher to 
Kay.  He thought that the family would flourish 
with more Anglicized names.  In 1981, Paul had 
the opportunity to revisit his family home in 
Vienna, Austria which had been confiscated by the 
Nazis. He was able to meet his old nanny and the 
reunion was both happy and tearful.

Paul grew up in the Riverdale section of the 
Bronx in New York City. From the age of 10 Paul 
began to loose his sight.  In high school he was 
diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which led to 
Paul’s blindness.  Paul also had severe hearing 
loss later in life.  Paul graduated from Taft 
High School in 1956 and then attended The College 
of Insurance in Brooklyn NY where he obtained a 
Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 1961.

In the 1960s, Paul worked as an independent 
insurance broker in New York City. He also 
obtained training and was licensed as a Masseur. 
But neither career truly satisfied Paul’s 
ambitions. With encouragement from his family and 
members of the National Federation of the Blind, 
Paul entered law school at New York University in 
September, 1971.  Paul first joined the National 
Federation of the Blind in the summer of 1968 in 
New York City.  He attended his first National 
Convention in 1969.  Paul joined the student 
division in 1970, where he served as Vice 
President and later the National Association of 
Blind Lawyers, where he was an active member for 
33 years.  This experience changed his life.  At 
the same time Paul always loved big dogs and was 
a guide dog user for many years after law 
school.  He had five guide dogs during his life.

On graduating from law school in 1974, Paul moved 
to Washington DC to accept a position as Staff 
Attorney with the U.S. Maritime Administration, 
an agency of the Department of Commerce. He was 
employed by the government for eleven years, 
leaving to enter private law practice in 1985 
where he began practicing Criminal Law in the DC 
Superior Court and the U.S. District Court for 
the District of Columbia.  In 1993, Paul and 
Larry Povinelli became law partners and created a 
professional corporation.  The corporation 
expanded its practice to include numerous areas 
of the law. Paul and Larry practiced law together until his death.

On Paul’s arrival to Washington in 1974, he 
immediately became part of the leadership of the 
newly reorganized NFB of DC. He remained an 
active leader, board member and officer for the 
remainder of his life. Paul served as President 
of the DC affiliate from 1978 to 1980, 
distinguishing himself for his advocacy and 
leadership in educating the DC City Council about 
blindness. Paul was also actively involved in the 
Sligo Creek Chapter of the NFB of Maryland and 
the Potomac Chapter of the NFB of Virginia.

Although Paul lived in Washington for thirty-five 
years, you could never mistake him for anything 
other than an extreme New York Yankee fan.  In 
2007, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday 
close friends of Paul gave him a great surprise, 
a return visit to his old home in the Bronx and a 
game at Yankee Stadium where he was able to cheer 
for his beloved New York Yankees.

Paul loved his baseball as he loved 
life.  Nothing stopped him from succeeding at 
whatever he wanted to do.  If you took the time 
to get to know Paul, you would have come to know 
a great friend, who had a heart of gold.  He will 
dearly missed by his family and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 10 AM on 
Sunday, January 10, 2009 at Louis Suburban Chapel 
in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.  Paul will be buried next to his mother and father.


Paul is survived by his sister, Elizabeth Kay Goldstein

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