May 21, 2008
Stanley Suterko, a retired Western Michigan University faculty member and leader in the developing blind orientation and mobility curricula around the globe, died April 9. He was 87.
Suterko came to WMU in 1961 to aid in the establishment of what is now the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies. He retired in 1984 as professor emeritus of blind rehabilitation.
During WWII, Suterko served as a lieutenant JG in the U.S. Navy on a sub-chaser in the Pacific Region. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois and a master's degree from WMU.
Suterko began his professional career as a corrective therapist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the V.A. Hospital at Hines, Illinois, where he helped establish the first orientation and mobility program for blinded veterans and later served for 10 years as the program's supervisor. During the Korean War, he headed one of the hospital's units and along with his team, devised many innovative long cane techniques.
While at WMU, Suterko helped refine and advance the orientation and mobility profession and was an emissary in developing orientation and mobility programs around the world. Over his career, he received nearly every major recognition possible in the profession.
These included the international Blaha Award, which is considered the most prestigious award in the field, and being named the inaugural co-recipient of the Suterko-Cory Award, which was created to honor Suterko and one of his students for best representing international dedication to the field of orientation and mobility. In addition, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field in 2002.
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