Richard Prangley part 2

Uploaded by awiderworld on 10.08.2010


Richard Prangley's compelling personal story and his crusade to reform Michigan's services
for people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities was the kind of reporting most
journalists dream of doing.
Well I was a feature writer at the State Journal at the time and one day in Jan 1980,
Richard came walking through the door there with a big sheaf of paper and a story to
He insisted on speaking to an editor, a woman named Marsha Van Ness, who eventually went
over and spoke to him.
Richard began telling Marsha his story.
Now being an editor, she wasn't the person to interview him.
Now as I said in my book, I was the slowest to duck and got called over to Richard,
shook hands with him and started talking.
I thought either this guy is lying or he's got one heck of a story to tell.
I got to talk to him and after a year or 2 down the road, I got to know John Schneider.
He got interested, took me under his wing.
Got to know his family when his kids were still babies.
Got to know Sharon.
He just got interested in me.
The first story I wrote, probably a week after I spoke to him.
Did a little investigating to make sure about the story.
My first call was to a psychiatrist at MSU, Alex K.
He told me he had some minor disorders but was extremely functional.
So I talked to some more people and ended up writing a page one story about ten days
after we spoke.
That story became the first of many stories about Richard that John Schneider would
Eventually the idea for a biography of Richard was floated and John became the
logical choice to author the book.
The busy father took a brief leave of absence from the Lansing State Journal ,
further committing weekends and evenings to the project.
Eventually Richard's amazing story emerged in Schneider's book, "Waiting for Home." I
waited for home all those years-that's the most bitter part...holidays,
Christmas...never got to go home.
I didn't.
I never had the love.
I think the title of the book, "Waiting for Home" kind of speaks to that sense that
Richard always had...he sort of became excommunicated, disconnected from his family.
That's the one thing he never really recaptured.
He made a lot of friends, people who are like brothers and sisters to him, but I
think he's gonna agree with this that he's always gonna feel that one element of
family that he longed for, especially when he was young, is gone forever and that's
something he's never going to know.
He's made extraordinary efforts to reconcile with his family even though they're the
ones who ought to be making the effort.
During the 15 years Richard resided in Coldwater, John and Dorothy Prangley and their
children had gradually disengaged from their son and brother.
They were pretty much saying "he can't live outside an institution" and now he proved
he can live and thrive.
Now this causes them to question their decision.
Everything that Richard accomplished was a further indictment of their decision
to put him in a home.
I tried to interview his relatives for the book.
His sister initially agreed then cancelled.
His parents didn't want anything to do with this.
I can sort of understand why...there really wasn't a lot they could say that could
justify what happened.
There's something about Richard's personality that makes people want to help him.
We get together for movies and dinner all the time.
He's been to my house many times, sometimes for Christmas, Easter, whatever.
The Schneiders were not the only family to "adopt" Richard.
The Jubeck family, the proprietors of "Clara's Lansing Station" restaurant
got to know Richard as a regular customer.
That was quite a while ago---I've aten at Clara's as long as I worked for the
So I came a good friendship with the Jubecks, go home with them on Thanksgiving holidays.
Pete made sure I was well taken care of, well loved.
He was like a Dad to me, calling me son.
No one ever once called me son.
I got to call him Dad.
They are a wonderful family, the Jubecks.
Richard also has another distinction due to his friendship with the Jubeck
family....his own table in the traincar, Richard's favorite section of the restaurant.
I've learned as much from Richard as he's learned from me, especially as the father
of a developmentally disabled daughter.
I achieved many insights to that situation by knowing Richard.
I fooled the system and fooled my family members with all I can do.
I showed them!
Anybody would say for Richard to succeed in his own life would be more than anybody
would expect given his history.
But to go beyond that and actually become an advocate for the disabled, that just
puts it into a whole new realm.
Living a good life I never had growing up, I appreciate being independent.
It makes me feel proud.
This is my reward.
I'm glad to have a nice lady in my life.
My guardian angel brought me Charlene Hornbecker.
New beginning, got my own home, retirement.
No one dreamed I'd come this far.
So has Richard retired from advocacy, too?
My job isn't over until I say it's over!