Lions honor instructor at Winnetka’s Hadley School
Geraldine Lawhorn, seated in the middle, was recently named the 2012 District 1A Lions Richard J. Daley Citizen of the Year.
Updated: August 22, 2012 2:54AM
Hadley instructor Geraldine Lawhorn was recently named the 2012 District1A Lions Richard J. Daley Citizen of the Year. An accomplished poet, pianist and actress, Lawhorn is 95 years old and is deaf-blind.
The award was established in the 1970s and was designed to honor somebody who is not a Lion, who goes beyond the call of service and is an active member of the community.
Recognized at a breakfast on Sunday, April 1 at the Westin Chicago Northwest Hotel in Itasca, Ill., Lawhorn was nominated for her outstanding achievements, including 45 years as a Hadley instructor teaching poetry and deaf-blind studies.
She was accompanied to the event by her interpreter, Charita Graham, as well as Hadley President Chuck Young, Director of Student Services Karen Woodfork and Curriculum Designer Diane O’Neill. Woodfork and O’Neill work closely with Lawhorn and help interpret for her during Hadley meetings.
Lawhorn uses a variety of techniques to communicate with others, including the one-hand manual technique, which uses the sign language alphabet “spoken” in the hand of someone who is deaf-blind. She also uses a Tellatouch, a typewriter-like machine which types braille.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Lawhorn lost her sight around the age of 12 and her hearing at 19. She graduated with honors from Marshall High School in Chicago and then studied drama and music at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and the Carnegie Building in New York City.
She was the first African-American deaf-blind person to earn a college degree, receiving her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University in 1983.
“The Hadley School for the Blind has had a relationship with Lions Clubs in Illinois for more than 50 years. In fact, the Lions of Illinois
Blind Activities Committee was instrumental in raising funds and generating awareness for the school,” says Hadley President Chuck Young.
“We are so pleased that our relationship with local Lions Clubs continues and that Jerrie has received such a prestigious award from them.”