Braille Monitor                                                April 2013

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Russ Kletzing Honored by Newel Perry Award

Jacobus tenBroek, Jacob Fried, Russell Kletzing, and Kenneth Jernigan in 1963 as Fried was presented with the Newel Perry Award.From the Editor: As President Maurer has said, many of us know little about former President Russell Kletzing because his significant involvement predates our own. To get a sense of how this leader was regarded in the time when he was active and at the center of the movement, we reprint the following from the August 1966 issue of the Braille Monitor:

"Under his presidency, we have regained unity, vigor, and renewed dedication. Because of him we are stronger as a movement and better as men."

With these words the Federation's leader, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, bestowed the Newel Perry Award upon its chief executive of the past four years, Russell Kletzing, in a ceremony highlighting the convention banquet on the evening of July 7 [1966].

Kletzing was described in the speech of presentation as "the active agent of rehabilitation and reunion" who in 1962 "took arms against a sea of troubles, internal as well as external."

Dr. tenBroek went on to recall his acquaintance of more than twenty years with the Federation's outgoing president. "I first met Russ in the years of World War II when I was a lowly instructor and he was a high-minded student at the University of California at Berkeley," he said.

Pointing to Kletzing's rapid rise in the California Department of Water Resources--"where he has won several achievement awards and a rapid succession of promotions leading to his present eminence as assistant chief counsel"--Dr. tenBroek observed that his professional advance "has been more than matched by his rise in the leadership ranks of the organized blind movement. In 1959 he became president of the California Council of the Blind and held that position until the Federation's national convention chose him for the presidency in 1962 and reelected him in 1964."

Prior to presenting the Newel Perry Award to Kletzing, Dr. tenBroek called attention to the "unique significance" of the award: "In our field, as in the military services, there are basically two kinds of citations. Most of them are simply `good conduct' medals--that is, rewards for cooperating with the powers that be and not rocking the boat.

"The other kind of citation--unfortunately much more rare--is that which is given for valor in combat. The Newel Perry Award is such a citation. It is presented not for good conduct but for outrageous behavior. It is a testimonial to the voice that cries untiringly in the wilderness--like Jacob Freid's in the Jewish Braille Review. It is a tribute to the maverick who kicks off the custodial traces and breaks new orientation and rehabilitation ground--like Ken Jernigan in Iowa.

"It is a celebration of the independent statesman who leads better than he follows--like Vance Hartke, Cecil King, Jennings Randolph, Walt Baring, and that well-remembered young man who authored the Kennedy Bill," Dr. tenBroek said.

"The Newel Perry Award is a means of expressing our appreciation to the intrepid adventurers and missionaries of Federationism--like Isabelle Grant. It is a way of thanking those quiet warriors of welfare who continue year after year to fight the good fight--like Perry Sundquist in California and John Mungovan in Massachusetts.

"The Newel Perry Award is for those who, being unafraid to walk alone, march together with us in our forward movement--or who run ahead on the Biblical mission of removing the mines and stumbling blocks from the path of the blind.

"The man we honor tonight," he said with reference to Kletzing, "the recipient of the Newel Perry Award for 1966, is that kind of person."

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