Sun May 22 2016
Carol Ely

Carol Ely, a longtime colleague and friend to all at ICI, died on May 12. She was 59.

“I was holding her hand when she died,” said friend, colleague, and fellow self-advocate Nathan Perry. “She died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones and coworkers. She was a wonderful mentor and friend, always witty. I remember how I’d walk her out of the office every day and we’d laugh together while she waited for Metro Transit.”

Carol was a Community Program Specialist at ICI where she worked for over a decade as a core faculty member on the MN LEND; a content advisor for Self-Advocacy Online; a curator for Quality Mall resources on grief, loss and end-of-life, women’s issues, and parents with disabilities; and she was an actor for the College of Direct Support curriculum. She was adjunct faculty in the University of Minnesota’s Occupational Therapy program and a leader and advocate of open conversations about people with disabilities and sexuality. She frequently was a lecturer in University of Minnesota courses and presented at conferences. Carol was active in the University of Minnesota Black Faculty and Staff Association. Most recently she was working on writing a grant to help metro area high schoolers of color learn about healthcare and human service careers.  “I so admired her willingness to talk about herself and her life to students. Literally, students could ask her anything and she never paused in answering their questions,” recalls RTC director Amy Hewitt. “She will be missed, but certainly not forgotten,” says ICI director David Johnson. “I will always remember her positive attitude and forthrightness in ‘telling it like it is.’ She was a great teacher to us all.”

Remembrances of Carol are being posted on ICI’s Facebook page and clips from a 2015 interview in which she talked about the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act for her life are featured on Self-Advocacy Online. There will be a celebration of Carol’s life at Coffman Theater in Coffman Memorial Union, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, on Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Parking is $6 in the nearby East River Road Garage. A Go Fund Me site has been established to help cover Carol’s funeral expenses.