Arthur L. Segal, 70, longtime advocate of programs for the blind

August 29, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Arthur L. Segal, a lifelong advocate for the blind who was director of the Baltimore Office of Disability Services, died Tuesday at Mercy Medical Center while recovering from colon surgery. He was 70 and lived at the Horizon House apartments in Baltimore.

Until retiring last year, Mr. Segal was responsible for making sure that the city's facilities and programs were accessible to handicapped people.

Before moving to Baltimore in 1983, Mr. Segal was a rehabilitation counselor in Philadelphia, teaching Braille and other independent life skills to the blind. He also ran several food businesses in Philadelphia for 24 years, including a snack bar he operated in City Hall.

Born in Reading, Pa., Mr. Segal lost his vision at age 8 when a homemade arrow pierced his right eye. He lost the eye and was blinded within weeks by a condition called "sympathetic ophthalmia," in which a damaged eye causes an inflammation in the other eye.

FTC Mr. Segal was sent to the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia. He later earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Segal made it his life's work to help those who were blind find jobs, learn how to pick out clothes, cook and live independently.

"He was far from being inhibited by his blindness," said Eileen Rivera, national advertising sales manager for the Voice of the Diabetic magazine, which is a division of the National Federation of the Blind.

Said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, based in Baltimore, "He had the ability to make people feel welcome while at the same time serving as an inspiration and making them believe in themselves."

Dr. Maurer credited him with working diligently to develop programs and opportunities for the blind in the 1950s and 1960s when there were few such programs. "He taught them how to travel with a cane, how to catch a subway or bus and how to find their way in the business world."

A gregarious man who had a huge appetite for food, culture, friendships and travel, Mr. Segal was fearless in his pursuit of his interests.

He traveled to New Orleans and San Francisco and attended Center Stage and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performances and Artscape. He also enjoyed dining in the city's finest restaurants.

Mr. Segal was married in 1989 to the former Shirley Trexler, whom he had met 50 years earlier when the two were students at Overbrook School for the Blind. She died in 1991.

Mr. Segal was a member of the National Federation of the Blind for 50 years. He also was a trustee of the Radio Reading Service of Maryland and a member of the advisory council of the Maryland Library for the Blind.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at the National Center for the Blind, 1800 Johnson St., Baltimore.

He is survived by two sisters, Rita Segal of Temple, Pa., and Lillian DiSanto of Philadelphia; and a nephew, Charles DiSanto of Philadelphia.

Pub Date: 8/29/98

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