Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Remembering Jeff (I)

Wisconsin State Journal: By MATTHEW DeFOUR
There was always something 'magical' about Jeff Erlanger.

From his childhood appearance on 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' to the night he saved a Boston woman's life over the Internet, strange and wonderful things seemed to happen to him, said his father, Howard Erlanger.

Or rather, Jeff Erlanger was able to make them happen.

The Madison civic activist who sat on a number of commissions representing the disabled died Sunday. He was 36.

The fact that a spinal tumor cost Erlanger the use of his arms and legs as an infant was probably the least remarkable thing about him.

'He never once said, I wish I wasn't disabled,'' Howard Erlanger said. 'That just wasn't something that was an issue.'

Jeff Erlanger's philosophy, summarized in an award-winning ad he filmed in 2002 for Wisconsin Public Television, was: 'It doesn't matter what I can't do -- what matters is what I can do.'...

"One of the reasons I so admired Jeff was he was passionate about our nation on a big-scale level and equally passionate about our community," [Dane County Executive Kathleen] Falk said. "This is a man who devoted so many countless hours to making things better for other people."

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