Long-time advocate and Salem resident, Judy Cunio, died June 17, 2011 from injuries sustained in her home the previous day. She was 59 years old.

A celebration of Judy’s life is scheduled for Thursday, June 30, at 3:00 pm at Salem Alliance Church, on Gaines and 5th in Salem.

Born with cerebral palsy on January 23, 1952, Judy was a pioneer of the self- advocacy movement for people with developmental disabilities. Barred from public education and institutionalized as a teen because of her disabilities, Judy fought for her independence and was determined to become a professional advocate for others in Oregon with developmental disabilities. In the early 1970s, she was a founding member of People First, now an international organization of individuals with developmental disabilities helping people learn to speak for themselves. After living in several state-funded facilities, Judy realized her dream of living independently in her own apartment, where she lived for the last 14 years.

For the past ten years, Judy served in a professional position as the Self Advocacy Coordinator for the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities. During her many presentations to other advocates and professional groups, Judy often said “This is the best job I’ve ever had.” She made it her personal mission to ensure that self-advocates like herself be actively included in all groups making decisions that affect the lives of people with developmental disabilities. At the time of her death, Judy was a regular and valued member of a variety of groups and organizations, including the Resource Connections of Oregon board of directors, the Oregon Disabilities Commission, the Oregon Developmental Disabilities Coalition, the Home Care Commission, Fairview Housing Trust Fund, Self Advocates as Leaders, and the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force.

Judy Cunio was known, admired and loved by many throughout Oregon and the nation. She will be dearly missed and always remembered for her passion, her unique brand of humor, her many hair styles and colors, her generous spirit, and her profound impact on the quality of life of Oregonians with developmental disabilities.

Judy was deeply saddened by the recent loss of her mother, who died June 4, 2011. Judy is survived by her sisters Kim Cunio, Brandy Brockway and Millie Young all of Salem, Kelly Allen of Gillette, WY. and Susan Campbell of Sutherlin; as well as several nieces and nephews.   Memories and Stories are being shared on the Judy Cunio Memorial Website

Thanks to the DD Coalition for the information.