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A Fond Farewell and Tribute to Shawn McDuff

By eanderson

January 25, 2018

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to former board member and dear friend, Shawn J. McDuff. Shawn died unexpectedly on Dec. 31, 2017.

A smiling man wearing glasses seated in a power wheelchair with a head support and ventolator.

Shawn was a founding board member of the REquipment Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program, Inc. and served as our treasurer until June 2017.  As a user of DME and long-time Independent living advocate and activist, Shawn was a great fit for our nonprofit, standing by our DME reuse philosophy which emphasizes the principles of consumer choice and control.

Shawn had worked at the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann since 1990 where he served as deputy director. There he started a program, the All People Accessible Business Project which uses volunteers to conduct access surveys of selected North Shore and Cape Ann businesses.

Shawn and I had the pleasure of working together many times over the years on independent living and disability rights issues. In 2015, we marched together in DC for disability rights and equality!

Three men seated in power wheelchairs, one using a ventolator, and three women standing behind them.
Right to left: Shawn McDuff, Maria DiScipio, Charlie Carr, Karen Langley, Joe Tringali, and Kathy Edgell at the ADA 25th Anniversary march in DC

Born and raised in Lynn, Shawn was the son of Joseph and Marie McDuff, of Nahant. He attended Lynn Schools and was a graduate of Lynn English High School, Class of 1986. Shawn earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Salem State College in 1990.

Shawn was an avid Bruins fan, and also a fan of the Patriots and Red Sox “in that order.” He had a great smile and a wonderful sense of humor. He was a hard worker and lived life to the fullest. He and his wife, Maria DiScipio, with whom he shared 17 married years, enjoyed taking cruises, dining out, and exploring trendy restaurants and food shows. I jokingly told my husband that Maria must be a bad cook because they ate out so often!

We played Words With Friends. He beat me badly. All the time. He finally took pity on me and… stopped playing with me.

He was proud of his independence but was proudest of being able to help others achieve their independence. Since his passing, there have been online tributes to Shawn from the many people he guided and mentored through the years, each crediting him with helping them through tough times and helping them achieve their own independence. He was a great role model.

A memorial service is being planned for when the weather is nicer to accommodate those not able to travel in the cold and snow to his wake and funeral.

We will all miss you, Shawn. Rest easy.