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    Tribute to a Noteworthy Life



    By Nona Fisher

    Editor’s Note: Rising above a life shackled with limited possibilities this honors a woman who grew beyond those restraints with the help of those who loved her dearly.  This isn’t a obituary, which we don’t do at Citizens Journal, as her coworkers and councilors had asked for, but a tribute.  Denise, you will be missed and never forgotten.

    Denise was a Special Needs person. She worked hard to became good at basketball, bowling and swimming. But her first true love was Special Olympics Track and Field. We enrolled her when our town first started its team in 1970. She was eight. 

    When Denise was 14, I was a divorced, working, single mother of two, and had to place her in a Board and Care Home. She never held a grudge, was just delighted when her brother, Theo, and I came to get her for a visit.

    Fortunately, the Home enrolled her in Westside Special Olympics Track and Field where she continued winning medals, mostly gold. They added Westside Special Olympics Bowling which took second place in her heart. She mostly averaged 120 but had scores from 140 to 179. She took great pride in doing her best in Special Olympics, winning the respect and friendship of coaches, volunteers and other athletes, and when visiting me she substituted at Camarillo Friends and Family Bowling League.

    Her collection of gold, silver and bronze medals and various trophies numbers over 70 from both Track and Field and Bowling.

    She also found joy, pride and self worth in her job at ECF’s Sheltered Workshop in Los Angeles where she worked for close to 35 years. She often proclaimed, “I get pay check just like my brother, Theo.”

    No matter what happened in her life, including her co-ed home being sold and losing the other 14 clients and her roommate of 25 years – even then she continued her friendly, positive attitude.

    Denise is survived by her Mother, Nona M. Fisher, her Brother, Theodore Ragsdale, her Gentleman Friend, Jeff Wilson. She also left behind many people who loved and respected her:  People at Board and Care Homes, Co-workers and staff at her Sheltered Workshop, athletes, coaches and volunteers in Camarillo and those in Westside Special Olympics.

    Denise was a gallant and loving Lady and will be deeply missed.

    Deborah Diaz, counselor at ECF Workshop said it best, “She touched our souls like no one else.”

    Denise Ragsdale

    Nona Fisher lives in Sacramento, CA

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