Michael “Chevy” Chevrette loved his large circle of family and friends, travel and the Minnesota State Fair. Chevrette died in June in his hometown of Negaunee, Michigan, with family by his side. He was 60 and had lived in Fridley for many years.
Memorial services were held in July in Michigan and Minnesota.
Chevrette grew up in Michigan. He was active in sports at Negaunee High School before a 1979 diving accident resulted in a spinal cord injury. He completed high school in Negaunee and also attended Northern Michigan University.
He went to Courage Center in Golden Valley for rehabilitation. He also took a computer course at Multi-Resource Centers in Minneapolis. He married Jan Folden in 1987; the couple later divorced.
Chevrette worked for several years at Deluxe Corporation, as a computer programmer. He led the company’s Corporate Diversity Council Communications Committee. He was also a member of the Employers’ Network, which was committed to hiring people with disabilities, and served on other groups.
Deluxe helped support a Minnesota disability travel guide Chevrette researched and wrote, as did a Judd Jacobson grant award in 2000.
The guide outlined the accessibility of lodging facilities, restaurants, parks, theaters, museums, art galleries, historical sites and places throughout the state. It included information on a range of features essential to making such places fully accessible, such as accessible parking spots, door widths, bathroom layouts, fire alarms and phones for people with hearing disabilities, Braille availability and other information.
The guide was inspired in 1999 when Chevrette was on his way to a restaurant in Minneapolis, and realized he didn’t have good information on accommodations there.
“There was a need for an in-depth resource for people with all kinds of handicaps mobility, visual, and hearing impairments,” said Chevrette in an interview.
The travel guide became a project of Access for All, an educational nonprofit organization Chevrette started to provide information on accessibility to persons with disabilities and older travelers.
He did interviews about disability travel and about the state fair. He wrote article for Access Press, including one on attending every single day of the fair.
Chevrette also worked as a coordinator of what was Disability Linkage Line and is now Disability Hub. He worked for Goodwill/Easter Seals in employment, which was also a longtime volunteer focus of his. Yet another employer was Opportunity Partner, where he put his IT skills to work.
Chevrette was an active volunteer. He served on and chaired the Access Press Board and what is now the Minnesota Council on Disability. He was very active with the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living. He served on the Big Brothers/Big Sisters board.
He was a mentor for elementary school-age children, and had a soft spot for children with disabilities.
He won several awards, including a national award from U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, the Jacobson award and the 1999 Phillips Award from Courage Center.
He enjoyed concerts and Gophers and Twins games.
Chevrette is survived by a sister, three brothers and their families, and many other relatives. His obituary in the Negaunee Mining Journal also paid tribute to the many personal care attendants who had made his life easier for the past 45 years.
When asked what he thought the biggest obstacle for people with disabilities is, Chevrette said, “There are a lot of barriers you have to break down. If you can get people to know you rather than your disability, you’re breaking down the societal barrier of people’s attitudes toward persons with disabilities. Your life at any time can be difficult or easy; it’s a matter of how you adapt. You have to see the good in every situation.”