Friday, September 7, 2007
RICHARD THESING SENDS THE CLASS OF 1957 HIS BIOGRAPHY
Richard Thesing and his grandchildren
Notre Dame High School - Class of 1957
As some of you may remember, a few days after graduation while on what was planned to be a summer trip around the U.S. in a camper with classmates Jim Conway and Mike Capriola, I broke my neck in a diving accident and was paralyzed. I was very fortunate to have a miraculous recovery and, after three months in the hospital, was able to walk with a limp.
I had intended to enter the seminary with my best friend, Jim Conway, but the accident changed those plans. After a year of rehab and part-time classes at Los Angeles Valley College, I entered Loyola and graduated with a degree in Psychology. I immediately went to California State University Los Angeles (L.A. State), earned a Masters, and worked for North American Aviation on the Apollo project.
I then decided to switch careers and got a law degree from Stanford Law School in 1966. In retrospect, it was a great decision and I very much enjoyed law school and the practice of law. I joined a small law firm in San Francisco with five lawyers and I retired 30 years later as Managing Partner when the firm had 400 lawyers in 30 offices in 13 states.
Over the years, the effects of my diving accident made it progressively more difficult to walk and 10 years ago I had such difficulty walking that I now use a scooter. When my wife of 36 years died from cancer in 1999, I decided to retire from law practice and devote time to advocacy on behalf of the disabled.
In 2000, President Clinton appointed me to a four-year term to the U.S. Access Board. It is a small government agency that issues building guidelines for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Upon completion of my term, I joined the boards of several disability organizations.
I am an avid golfer but I need to use an accessible golf cart in order to play, one with hand controls and swivel seat that can go on tees and greens. I am trying to get all golf courses to provide at least one of these accessible golf carts and formed a non-profit, Mobility Golf, to try to accomplish that objective. Some of my activities are: a website that lists all the courses with accessible golf carts, www.mobilitygolf.com, and successfully getting Congress to pass a law requiring the Defense Department to makes its 150 golf courses on military bases accessible to disabled veterans.
I have recently formed another non-profit, www.jidu.us, with a friend of Iraqi descent, to provide wheelchairs to disabled Iraqis. When the security situation there improves, it is our intention to set up small factories in Iraq where disabled Iraqis will manufacture the wheelchairs.
In 2005, I married Francesca Farr who is retired after a career as a family therapist. She is from a political family, her father was a state Senator and her brother is in Congress. I very much enjoy politics and find that my new life, with a new wife, and my disability advocacy activities is interesting and exciting.