A Life That Mattered
Widely Respected Disability and Senior Rights Advocate and Executive Director of Resources for Independent Living in Sacramento Passes Away At Age 71 Years – Death Stuns and Saddens Advocates and Friends Across California
SACRAMENTO, CA [BY MARTY OMOTO, CDCAN LAST UPDATED  06/06/2017  11:19 AM] –  Frances Gracechild, executive director of Resources for Independent Living (RIL) in Sacramento and widely respected and beloved disability and senior rights advocate, passed away yesterday (June 5th) at her home in Sacramento.  She was 71 years old.
    Her passing was unexpected and the news of death stunned and saddened staff at Resources for Independent Living, and also advocates and friends across California. She was a respected leader for disability and senior rights, helping to organize and speak at numerous protest rallies and events fighting back on massive reductions in services and supports that people needed – making those issues about rights and moral responsibility of government and community. 
    As a person with disabilities using a manual wheelchair, she was a familiar voice and presence on other issues too, including public accommodations access, worker rights and health care, especially for child, adults and families with low incomes. 
    No word yet on services. CDCAN will issue report when information is available on any services. 
    “So many of us who knew and loved Frances are so shocked by this news. This is beyond any words to describe the sense of sadness and loss our community across California feels. It is simply devastating to lose such a leader, fighter and champion for people with disabilities and seniors and low income families everywhere,” Marty Omoto, with CDCAN, said. “There are so many people – me included – that are heartbroken by this news. Her life and what she did and meant will always be remembered – and missed.”
    Frances Gracechild became executive director of the Sacramento-based Resources for Independent Living (RIL) in 1981, one of California’s independent living centers.  She also was presently serving, since 2008, as a board member of Sacramento’s Paratransit, Inc. 
    Her previous work as a social worker and later as a teacher in the low income neighborhoods of San Bernardino was pivotal, according to friends and fellow advocates, to understanding the day to day struggles that so many people face, who are confronted daily with barriers and loss of hope.
    Gracechild served as a commissioner on the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women.  She worked on the implementation of Title IX equity for women and girls in school athletic programs and taught parent education classes at Santa Rosa Junior College in non-sexist, non-racist, non-classist children’s literature.
    Previously as president of Health Access of California, Gracechild was the statewide spokesperson for the Patient Bill of Rights from 2000 to 2001. Gracechild was well known in Sacramento and statewide with her activism in labor issues for women, farm workers, seniors, teachers, janitors, IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services) workers and people with disabilities including those with developmental disabilities, mental health needs.  
    A CDCAN (Marty Omoto, family member and advocate) youtube channel was set up and has several videos dealing with current – and previous state budget issues, disability and senior rights, and advocacy.
    To see the current videos, including March 2014 San Andreas Regional Center Aptos Legislative Breakfast, January 2014 panel discussion on services for adults with autism spectrum and related disorders in Palo Alto, and older videos including video of April 2003 march of over 3,000 people with developmental disabilities, families, providers, regional centers and others from the Sacramento Convention Center to the State Capitol (to attend and testify at budget hearing on proposed massive permanent cuts to regional center funded services, go to the CDCAN (Marty Omoto) Channel at:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEySEyhnr9LQRiCe-F7ELhg
    More videos – including new current videos (an interview with longtime advocate Maggie Dee Dowling is planned, among others) – plus archive videos of past events – will be posted soon. 
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