By James Weisman
Terence Moakley (“Terry” to all who knew him), United Spinal and Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) president, employee and board member, passed away on Sept.5, 2014 after a short bout with leukemia. He was 69 years old.
Born in Brooklyn, he was raised along with brother Richard,in Hicksville, N.Y. by his parents Ann and James Moakley.
He graduated from St. John’s University with a BA in English at the height of the Vietnam War. He knew the Army would draft him, so he chose to join the Marines.
Moakley broke his neck in a diving accident while in the service and was hospitalized for more than two years. His time at the Bronx VA Hospital was shared with the legendary Jim Peters (who passed away 12 years ago and after whom the Bronx VA Hospital was renamed), Bobbie Muller (who founded Vietnam Veterans of America and shared a Nobel Peace Prize for his anti landmine work) and Ron Kovic (who wrote “Born on the 4th of July”). Around this time, Moakley joined EPVA.
After leaving the hospital, a quadriplegic, he went back to school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Hofstra University. Following a short stint as an instructor at SUNY Farmingdale, he joined the staff of EPVA and people with disabilities everywhere have benefited from this affiliation.
Moakley realized that his disabled veteran status would not improve his chances of getting up an un-ramped curb, boarding an inaccessible bus or entering an inaccessible building.
His good nature and warm personality brought disabled Vietnam-era veterans and New York City disability activists together to fight the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Moakley, along with Jim Peters and Denise Figueroa, were plaintiffs in EPVA’s landmark litigation, brought in 1979, that resulted in bus and key subway station accessibility, as well as the creation of the Access-A-Ride program.
Seventeen years ago, along with Marvin Wasserman and others, Moakley founded the Taxis For All Campaign, which, this year, gained access to 50 percent of NYC green and yellow cabs. He founded the Association for Transportation Instruction to facilitate ridership and educate transportation providers.
He also founded Mobility Through Access in the early 1980’s, a coalition of disabled organizations and individuals seeking access to mass transit.
He made himself an expert in barrier-free design and served on the New York state Building Code Council, drafting the accessibility provisions of the code and Local Law 58, New York City’s barrier-free design law.
Moakley is survived by his wife Daisy and Carlin Admirand, the daughter of his second wife, whom he raised. He embraced Daisy’s family of five children and three grandchildren as his own.