Joe Tringali — a 45-year member of the Stavros Center for Independent Living; a passionate, beloved, and fierce leader in the disability justice movement — passed away on December 27.
On January 11, the Senate closed in memory and honor of Joe’s exquisitely-lived life. You can read an excerpt from my remarks, below. You can also watch the video, here. Representative Mindy Domb led the House to pause for a moment of silence for Joe. This also happened yesterday.
Joe’s staunch, strategic, and unwavering advocacy was dedicated to health care and personal care advances, housing accessibility, an end to the state’s draconian MassHealth estate recovery law, and many, many other issues furthing the rights of people living with disabilities.
Joe’s leadership manifested statewide as he propelled our Senate team’s work on both legislation to allow spouses to be compensated as caregivers and efforts to reform the state’s estate recovery policy. He was also passionate about improving access to, and appropriate compensation for, Personal Care Attendants and worked collaboratively with CHAPA and other groups to promote the development of accessible housing across the state.
Joe also worked tirelessly at home in western Massachusetts. He was instrumental locally in developing the accessible curb cuts and traffic signals in Amherst —the first of those kind in western Massachusetts. He was equally key to the development of the fully accessible apartments at Chestnut Court in Amherst in the 1970s, another first in the region. The collaborative Home Sweet Home program, which was Joe’s brainchild, currently helps neighbors in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties acquire safe, affordable wheelchair access ramps for their homes and has, to date, built over 1,000 ramps to help people remain in their homes after becoming disabled. These are but a few of Joe’s many accomplishments.
He was a formidable advocate with a giant heart, a will of iron, and a wonderful sense of humor.
Joe was a champion for the right of people to have self-directed care and to live independently — with appropriate support.
Angelina Ramirez, CEO of Stavros, wrote that “his legacy will endure as a testament to the unwavering fight for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities who are as determined as he was to live independently.”
Joe is survived by his partner, Kathy Edgell, his brother and sister-in-law Tony and Nancy Tringali, his daughter Hannah Gippperich, nieces and nephews, and family, friends, and colleagues near and far who mourn his loss and celebrate his exquisitely-lived life.