Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jeffrey Erlanger

MADISON - Jeffrey Clay Erlanger, age 36, died Sunday, June 10, 2007, from pulmonary complications, surrounded by his family. Jeff grew up in Madison and graduated from Memorial High School and Edgewood College. He lived his life with boundless enthusiasm, taking advantage of every opportunity to make a friend or make a difference. A quadriplegic since infancy, he was never defined by his disability, and his optimism and accomplishments inspired us to see possibilities instead of obstacles. Jeff was a tireless advocate for disability rights; for example, he played a pivotal role in bringing accessible taxi service to Madison and in fostering the Mayor's recent conference on accessible housing. He was as articulate and passionate in debating current events as he was in debating the likelihood of the Brewers or Cubs making it to the World Series. He worked with children as a camp counselor and religious school teacher, and he often visited classrooms (accompanied by his loyal service dog) to discuss living with a disability. He touched many lives with his candid appearance on PBS's "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" at age 10 and through his lifelong friendship with Fred Rogers. His generous spirit, fabulous laugh and incredible passion will live on forever in the lives he has affected. - Jeff served as an intern for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin. He served on many City of Madison committees, including the Economic Development Commission, the Commission on People with Disabilities (where he was a former chair), and the Civil Rights Department Ad Hoc Committee. He was chairman of the board of the Community Living Alliance, a major Madison nonprofit. He also served on the board of the Madison Area Community Land Trust, served on the Wisconsin State Rehabilitation Council, previously served on the board of Jewish Social Services, and ran a spirited campaign for City Council in 2002, finishing second in a field of six. - Jeff is survived by his parents, Pam and Howard Erlanger of Madison; his sister, Lisa Erlanger of Seattle; his brother-in-law, Jeffrey Coopersmith; his niece, Emma (whom he adored); and his aunts, uncles and cousins. His family gives special thanks to Dr. William Schwab, Jeff's physician, friend and mentor, who was with him to the end and whose unstinting dedication to the Erlanger family will always be cherished; to Dr. Kenneth Wood, Jeff's attending physician for much of the three weeks he spent on life support, whose expertise and extraordinary compassion were indispensable to Jeff and the family; and to the nursing staff of the Trauma and Life Support Center at University Hospitals, Madison. - The funeral will be held on Thursday, June 14, 2007, at TEMPLE BETH EL, 2702 Arbor Drive (behind Knickerbocker Square on Monroe Street). The service will begin promptly at 9:45a.m.; please arrive early to allow time for parking, which may be congested. - In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Olin Sang Ruby Summer Camp, 555 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062, for the Jeffrey Erlanger Memorial Fund, which will be used to enhance the summer camp experience of children with special needs. Cress Funeral and Cremation Service 3610 Speedway Road (608) 238-3434 www.cressfuneralservice.com (Time stamp artificial)

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