In Memoriam of Those Who Passed in 2017

Updated: Feb 8, 2018

We pause to remember AccessAbility persons-served we lost in 2017. They will all be dearly missed by their friends, family, and AccesAbility staff members and co-workers.


Gene Thies passed away on January 27th, 2017. Gene started working at AccessAbility in 1980. Over his 36 years here, he participated in both the ELE and Step-Into-Work programs. Gene was always ready to work, and he was one of the most dedicated and motivated workers that AccessAbility has had the opportunity to serve. In addition to being a hard worker, he was also a great artist. He grew up on his Dad’s farm in Iowa, and he loved drawing pictures of the farm and sharing them with his friends.

He was kind and friendly, and would say hello to everyone in the hallway. Gene will be truly missed by all of his friends and staff members at AccessAbility.


Submitted by Amy Pastorius


David Gustavson passed away on January 24th, 2017. David began working at AccessAbility in 1996, and worked on the production floor full time. He transitioned into the ELE in 2000, and became a member of the ACE program in 2012 when he was able to enjoy both vocational and recreational activities. David was sweet and kind. He liked to help others, and enjoyed going to camp when he was able. David was passionate about sports. He could be counted on to know the score of last night’s game, or who was playing upcoming games. He was also an athlete on the Evening Star’s Special Olympics Team completing in both bowling and bocce ball. He even had his picture in the Star Tribune after one of his bocce ball tournaments. He will be truly missed by those who have known him for the last 20 years, especially by those in the nursing department and those who helped coach him in the Special Olympics. Thank you to all who helped him during his time here over the past 20 years.


Submitted by Jackie Welle

Tom Black attended Christ Child school in his youth before receiving training at Bridgeview and St. Paul’s Vocational Technical Institute. Tom worked a variety of service and custodial jobs throughout the 70’s and 80’s, and found himself at MDI where he worked until 2009. On 3/16/09, Tom began working in house in the AccessAbility Step into Work program, and after only eight days of employment earned a promotion to in-house janitorial worker. Four short months later, Tom was again promoted to a community janitorial position, a career that he loved and excelled at until his passing on October 10, 2017.

Tom valued his family very much, and was a loving uncle and brother. He enjoyed taking walks around the city, and prided himself on his knowledge of the metro area and its transit routes. Tom made sure to “check in” on his case worker every week, and was a friend to all. He was a good man.


Submitted by Paxton Dowell


Liz Duffy began attending AccessAbility in 2002 in the ELE Program, splitting her time between collating, packaging, and assembly work and recreational activities. As her needs changed, she transitioned into the ACE Program. Liz was happy, sweet, silly, and loving. Her laugh and smile were infectious. She loved music and dancing, and she knew how to find the joy in the little things in life. She will be missed.


Submitted by Jackie Welle


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