Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Alice Falck, 87, helped mentally retarded

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mrs. Falck

Alice R. Falck, a pioneer activist in Cincinnati for those with mental retardation, died Friday of cancer at Hospice of Cincinnati in Blue Ash. The North Avondale resident was 87.

Mrs. Falck took the initiative to improve services to the mentally retarded.

She helped develop special education training for teachers at the University of Cincinnati and started the first scholarship for special-education teachers. She also started a support group that became a chapter of the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC).

Activism wasn't her first choice of careers. Mrs. Falck studied fine arts at the University of Cincinnati, the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Conservatory of Music. She created fashion advertisements for downtown department stores before marrying in 1941 and starting a family.

Her younger daughter, Nina H. Falck, was born autistic in 1948.

As issues with Nina arose, Mrs. Falck was right there pushing for awareness and education. She served as a consultant to the Cincinnati Board of Education and tackled transportation issues for people with disabilities. She also helped found the Kursban Center, a resale shop that hired the disabled.

"She would literally storm into meetings and take over," said her older daughter, Marcia F. Woods of Marstons Mills, Mass.

Mrs. Falck wrote bulletins on retardation for hospitals and pediatricians "at the kitchen table, pounding away on her old Corona" typewriter.

Mrs. Falck retired from activism about 20 years ago, when "her work was kind of done - at least for what she had to do," Ms. Woods said.

Sylvan B. Falck, her husband of 56 years, died in 1997.

In addition to her two daughters, survivors include a grandson and a great-grandson.

The remains were cremated. There will be no service.

Memorials: Fine Arts Fund, 2649 Erie Ave., Cincinnati 45208-2987.


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