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In Memoriam - Ursula Arceneaux Markey
September 13, 1946 - December 22, 2008

Ursula MarkeyUrsula Markey, a much beloved leader in the social justice and disability advocacy communities in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the nation, died on December 22nd after a long struggle with diabetes. She left behind a long legacy of accomplishments that have forever changed the lives of persons with disabilities. Ursula and her husband of 38 years Dempsey (DJ) Markey began advocacy in the area of disability issues when their older son Duane began to exhibit signs of autism at an early age. Assisted by the Advocacy Center, they eventually filed suit to get Duane the specialized services he needed. That was the beginning of a lifetime of advocacy. As they learned more about disability, about inclusion, and about effective advocacy to insure the integration of people with disabilities in the community, they not only continued and refined their advocacy on behalf of their sons, but shared their knowledge with others.

Together, they founded the Pyramid Parent Community Resource Center in New Orleans, which has provided assistance to countless families seeking to improve the educational experiences of their children with disabilities. As one such parent wrote, "Ursula taught me to value my son's positive attributes at a time when I felt helpless to help him... Ursula and the Pyramid Parent and Community Resource Center changed my life! I have to thank Ursula and DJ for their support, guidance and insight about reaching special needs children. ... On behalf of so many Pyramid parents, thank you Ursula." Similar stories and tributes poured in from around the country. From a woman in Boston: "The national disability rights movement has lost one of our most effective, inspiring leaders. I am ... grateful for the privilege of knowing and working with Ursula for over 20 years."

Throughout her life, Ursula fought for civil rights and social justice in many venues. She also was a talented painter and writer and a gifted inspirational speaker. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She shared generously of her time and talents with family, friends, and those in need.

Services were held for Ursula on Saturday December 27th in New Orleans. Survivors include her husband Dempsey (DJ) and son Teiko Markey of New Orleans, brothers Lawrence Arceneaux of Los Angeles and Ronald Arceneaux of Kenner, and a host of family and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence and Velma Arceneaux, and her son Duane Markey. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations to the Pyramid Parent Community Resource Center, 3132 Napoleon Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70125.

Excerpted from Triangle, January 2009

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