Dennis W. Specht, 52, bowling fan who coped with Down syndrome

August 24, 2006

Dennis Wayne "Denny" Specht, who relished bowling and dining out with his father, died Monday at 52 after overcoming many limitations associated with Down syndrome. His death, caused by complications from Alzheimer's disease, occurred at Hospice of Frederick County.

After his birth in Frederick in 1954, doctors told his parents that his mental retardation would likely be so severe that he should be institutionalized. But William C. Specht Jr. and his wife, Hilda "Tillie" Specht, disagreed. They cared for their son in their Taneytown home, and all three were active in Arc - formerly the Association for Retarded Children.

William Specht, despite blindness and failing health, continued to care for his son after his wife's death in 1996. Their plight was the subject of a 1997 article in The Sun, which raised awareness of aging caregivers of disabled adults. Subsequently, Denny Specht received support services through the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration.

For three years, father and son were able to remain in their home with the help of Change Inc., a Westminster nonprofit organization that assists people with developmental disabilities. Its workers drove the Spechts to their favorite restaurants. The father died in 2001.

"When Denny would see the moon at night, he would get so excited because he thought his daddy was on the moon," said his sister, Carolyn Abrecht of Westminster.

"If I can learn anything from him," she said of her brother, "I would hope for it to be to always accept everyone at face value, always be happy, greet everyone with a smile, extend an open hand and heart and never be bothered by the small stuff."

Mr. Specht lived with caregivers at their home in Westminster until this year, when his worsening Alzheimer's required his move to a group home in Frederick.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Monocacy Church of the Brethren, 13517 Motters Station Road, Rocky Ridge.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Frederick County, 516 Trail Ave. Suite C, Frederick 21702.

He is also survived by another sister, Nancy Lee of Libertytown, and several nieces and nephews.

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