Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Andrew Foster

Andrew Jackson Foster was born on 26 December, 1925 in Ensley, Alabama, USA and died on 3 December, 1987 in Rwanda, Africa at the age of 61 killed in an airplane accident.

Andrew Foster was a missionary to the Deaf in Africa from 1956 until his death in 1987. Andrew Foster became the first Black Deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet College and the first to earn a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. Eventually receiving a Master’s Degree from Seattle Pacific Christian College, he founded Christian Mission for Deaf Africans in 1956, and set for Liberia, Africa.

Andrew Foster was the son of a coal miner, he and his younger brother became deaf through spinal meningitis in 1936. Educational opportunities for African Americans in that era prevented him from achieving more than a 6th grade education. At the age of 16, he moved to Detroit, Michigan to live with his aunt and attended Bethany Pembroke church where he later committed his life to the call of Christ. Andrew Foster completed high school at Michigan School for the Deaf.

In 1961 Andrew Foster was married to Berta, a German, and together they have 5 children. Gallaudet College awarded him an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters in 1977 for his accomplishment.

Deaf Education in Africa

There Andrew Foster encountered cultures so oppressive of deaf people that parents often hid their deaf children at home or abandoned them altogether. Hearing missionaries told him that deaf children didn’t even exist in Africa but, he found deaf children and established schools for them.

The challenges for deaf ministry in central and west Africa were two-fold: not only were there no churches for the deaf in the most populous regions of Africa, but there were no schools for the deaf. Consequently, the deaf were completely illiterate. The most a deaf person could hope for was to become the family servant and use rudimentary signs invented by the family. In remote villages, some deaf children were thought to be cursed by demons and abandoned to be eaten by wild animals.

Andrew Foster began his work in 1956 by convincing school officials to let him use their classrooms after hours to teach the deaf. In Ghana he found a public school willing to allow him to teach the deaf, and within months the school had a waiting list of over 300 families wanting to send their deaf children to his school. As the deaf began to become literate, Andrew Foster would supplement their education with trade skills, and, most importantly, teach Christianity lessons. Andrew Foster convinced existing churches and missions to expand their ministry to include the deaf.

After staying on as the administrator of the school for three years, Andrew Foster moved on to Nigeria to repeat the successes he had seen in Ghana. It was in Ibadan, Nigeria, that he would eventually set up his headquarters and create a teacher-training facility as he continued to expand his work to over thirty countries in the West and Central regions of Africa. Andrew Foster’s work included schools, Sunday schools, churches, youth camps and teacher-training facilities reaching tens of thousands of deaf-teaching many of them not only their own names, but additional to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

During 30 years of service Andrew Foster founded 31 schools and 2 centers, successively in Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Togo, Chad, Senegal, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire (presently Democratic Republic of Congo), Burkina Faso, Burundi and Gabon. About the same number of Sunday Schools and churches were established in those countries, and also in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Congo and Guinea. For much of his life Andrew Foster spent 6 months of the year in Africa establishing schools and the other 6 months in the United State raising money to support these schools. In 1977, the name was changed to Christian Mission for the Deaf.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Dorsey

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born on 1 July, 1899 in Villa Rica, Georgia, USA and died on 23 January, 1993 in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas is known as “the father of gospel music”. Earlier in his life he was a leading blues pianist known as Georgia Tom.

As formulated by Thomas Dorsey, gospel music combines Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and the blues. Thomas’ conception also deviates from what had been, to that time, standard hymnal practice by referring explicitly to the self, and the self’s relation to faith and God, rather than the individual subsumed into the group via belief.

Thomas Dorsey was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago from 1932 until the late 1970s. Thomas’ best known composition, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, was performed by Mahalia Jackson and was a favorite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, and “Peace in the Valley”, which was a hit for Red Foley in 1951 and has been performed by dozens of other artists, including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

In 2002, the Library of Congress honored his album Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973), by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry.

Thomas Dorsey’s father was a minister and his mother a piano teacher. Thomas Dorsey learned to play blues piano as a young man. After studying music formally in Chicago, he became an agent for Paramount Records. Thomas Dorsey put together a band for Ma Rainey called the “Wild Cats Jazz Band” in 1924.

Thomas Dorsey started out playing at rent parties with the names Barrelhouse Tom and Texas Tommy, but he was most famous as Georgia Tom. As Georgia Tom, he teamed up with Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) with whom he recorded the raunchy 1928 hit record “Tight Like That”, a sensation, selling seven million copies. In all, he is credited with more than 400 blues and jazz songs.

Personal tragedy led Thomas Dorsey to leave secular music behind and began writing and recording what he called “gospel” music. Thomas Dorsey was the first to use that term. Thomas Dorsey’s first wife, Nettie, who had been Rainey’s wardrobe mistress, died in childbirth in 1932 along with his first son. In his grief, he wrote his most famous song, one of the most famous of all gospel songs, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”.

Unhappy with the treatment received at the hands of established publishers, Thomas Dorsey opened the first black gospel music publishing company, Thomas Dorsey House of Music. Thomas Dorsey also founded his own gospel choir and was a founder and first president of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.

Thomas Dorsey’s influence was not limited to African American music, as white musicians also followed his lead. “Precious Lord” has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Clara Ward, Roy Rogers, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, among hundreds of others. It was a favorite gospel song of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was sung at the rally the night before his assassination, and at his funeral by Mahalia Jackson, per his request. It was also a favorite of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who requested it to be sung at his funeral. Thomas Dorsey was also a great influence on other Chicago based gospel artists such as “Queen of Gospel” Albertina Walker and The Caravans.

Thomas Dorsey wrote “Peace in the Valley” for Mahalia Jackson in 1937, which also became a gospel standard. Thomas Dorsey was the first African American elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and also the first in the Gospel Music Association’s Living Hall of Fame. Thomas Dorsey was inducted into the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in 2007. Thomas Dorsey papers are preserved at Fisk University, along with those of W.C. Handy, George Gershwin, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

The works of Thomas A. Dorsey have proliferated beyond performance, into the hymnals of virtually all American churches and of English-speaking churches worldwide.

Thomas Dorsey was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.

In 2007, he was inducted as a charter member of the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in Richmond, Indiana.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend Andrew Kehoe

Andrew Kehoe was born on 1 February, 1872 and died on 18 May, 1927. Andrew Kehoe was an American mass murderer who perpertrated the Bath School Disaster on May 18, 1927. While on the school board, Andrew was appointed the Bath Township Clerk in 1925, but was unsuccessful at retaining this position in the election later that year. During this time, Nellie Kehoe was chronically ill with tuberculosis, and her frequent hospital stays may have played a role in putting the family into debt. At the time of the Bath School disaster, Andrew had ceased making mortgage and homeowner’s insurance payments, and the mortgage lender had begun foreclosure proceedings against the farm. Andrew Kehoe may have suffered from OCD.

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