For Colleen Starkloff and her husband Max, advocating for people with disabilities has always been about helping them gain independence. When they founded Paraquad in St. Louis 45 years ago, their goal was to enable people with disabilities to live independently.
Colleen Kelly Starkloff has been on the forefront of the disability rights movement ever since she met her late husband, Max Starkloff, in the nursing home where he was confined due to a disabling car accident. Still a young man, Max was determined to live independently and help others in his situation do the same.
Max J. Starkloff in 2008 when he received his star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame
Marca Bristo, president of Access Living in Chicago, pauses in thought in front of the casket of Max Starkloff, an activist for disability rights, during his funeral in St. Louis on January 4, 2011. (Bill Greenblatt / UPI)
Colleen Starkloff greets mourners in front of the casket of her husband Max Starkloff, an activist for disability rights, during his funeral in St. Louis on January 4, 2011. (Bill Greenblatt / UPI)
The sanctuary at St. Francis Xavier Church on the Saint Louis University campus was filled today with people who had gathered for one purpose - to remember the life of Max Starkloff.
Such a crowd, said former Washington University chancellor William Danforth, would have been unheard of in 1959, when an automobile accident left Starkloff a paraplegic and living in a nursing home at the age of 21.